President Barack Obama's re-election campaign Monday unveiled a new round of attacks on one of the central arguments put forth by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Noting that Romney has campaigned extensively on claims of a record of creating jobs during his tenure as the head of private equity firm Bain Capital, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt called into question the economic philosophy demonstrated by Romney's record.
"Romney economics," LaBolt said, show a clear pattern of putting short-term profits ahead of long-term growth by establishing a system under which there is one set of rules for those at the top and a second for everyone else.
"Romney and his partners got huge returns" on their investments in various companies, LaBolt said, while "workers and communities got the shaft."
To illustrate that point, the Obama campaign pointed to the case of Ampad, a paper company with a plant in Indiana that LaBolt said Romney acquired then quickly drove into bankruptcy - costing roughly 1,500 jobs but reaping roughly $100 million in profits for Romney and his partners.
"Coast to coast, Romney economics has left thousands of victims in its wake," LaBolt said on a conference call with reporters. "From buyout to bankruptcy, he was the man at the top."
That philosophy, LaBolt contended, would follow Romney to the Oval Office if he should defeat Barack Obama in November and enact his plan of "budget busting" tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street.
"Romney economics is the last thing America needs," LaBolt said. "We need an economy built to last … where everyone plays by the same set of rules."
Randy Johnson, a former Ampad worker who is now with the United Steelworkers union, described how, after Romney and his partners bought the company, workers all suddenly found themselves fired.
Some of the workers, Johnson said, were allowed to come back to work, but only after accepting large cuts in wages and benefits.
Romney, Johnson said, then went on to "load up Ampad with debt [while] at the same time demanding millions … in management fees."
After driving the company's debt up to 35 times its level at the time of the buyout, the company was forced to declare bankruptcy. Even the creditors of the company "got the short end of the stick as well," Johnson said, seeing only 2/10th of a cent in return for each dollar invested.
Taking those values to the White House, Johnson said, would be a terrible failure for the country.
"In my book they disqualify" Romney for the Presidency, Johnson said. "President Obama sticks up for the middle class. … Romney sticks it to us."
LaBolt also pushed back against criticism in recent days, including from some prominent Democrats, that the campaign was attacking Romney too harshly.
"We're not questioning the premise of private equity," LaBolt said. Instead, the campaign is questioning the "values and lessons" Romney has drawn from his time at Bain.
"Governor Romney believes any discussion of his record is automatically negative campaigning," LaBolt said. But what the campaign aims to do is to "go back to see if his claim of being a job creator holds up."
And such discussions, LaBolt assured the reporters on the call, will continue to play a large role in the Presidential race.
The conference call also included the announcement of a new Obama campaign video that highlights the story of Ampad.
In a statement responding to the continued attacks on Romney's time at Bain, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, "President Obama continues his assault on the free enterprise system with attacks that one of his supporters, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, called 'nauseating' and a former adviser, Steven Rattner, called 'unfair.'"
"Americans expected a different kind of politics from Barack Obama but, sadly, this is just more of the same failed politics that dominates Washington," she added.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com