Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Ann Romney’s blind trust had a seeing-eye dog. … Was blind but now can see….

Solamere Capital—named after an exclusive neighborhood in Utah where the family had a vacation home—was incorporated in February of 2008, only weeks after the campaign ended. Its first office address was the Romney campaign headquarters in Boston’s North End. One of its first big commitments was $10 million from Ann Romney’s blind trust… According to a copy of the Solamere prospectus that The Boston Globe obtained, they promised “unique access” to lucrative deals that the partners would land thanks to their “close personal and business relationships.” The New York Times reported that the firm ultimately raised money from a variety of Romney donors and fund-raisers, including John Miller, a longtime family friend and former corporate CEO, and Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay.

Ann Romney’s blind trust had a seeing-eye dog. The trust was blind but then could see.  Truly amazing grace.

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Farmers, Medicare Recipients, and Sons of Multimillionaires, Some of Whom Won’t Take Responsibility for Their Own Lives – [UPDATED]

This summer’s widespread drought has been extremely hard on Midwestern and plains-states crop farmers, and many of them are chafing at the thought of having to take responsibility for their own lives if the Farm Bill doesn’t make it through Congress before the upcoming recess.

They had panicked earlier in the summer when Congress was dallying in passing an emergency relief bill, but were rescued from having to take responsibility for their own lives when the Republican-controlled House agreed at the last minute before Congress’s August recess to allow the farmers—including some who won’t be paying income tax for this year unless those federal subsidies increase their incomes enough—to mooch off the likes of Mitt Romney and his son Tagg, whom Romney convinced to take responsibility for himself

Which Tagg did, by borrowing a reported (if I recall correctly) $10 million from his parents to start a (very) private equity firm whose investors apparently all, or almost all, were people who’d made their fortunes through investments with Bain Capital. 

Tagg is a role model for young people just starting out today who want to take responsibility for themselves.  His father suggested last winter that other young people should emulate the son: “Start a business.  Borrow money from your parents, if you have to,” Romney told a group of them.  Or something like that.

In that same speech, he advised young people to “get that education.”  Presumably, by having their parents pay their tuition and expenses.  Like Mitt Romney himself did.  And like all his kids did.

No silver spoon for the Romneys, though.  No sir. Just personal responsibility. Unlike all those farmers in Kansas, Nebraska and Indiana who are part of Obama’s base.

Then, of course, there the Medicare recipients who refuse to take responsibility for their lives by paying their healthcare costs, or at least the part of their healthcare costs that exceed the amounts they’d paid into the fund over the years. People who think they’re entitled to healthcare.  And, probably, to you-name-it.

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UPDATE: A commenter on another blog pointed out that Israelis, whose healthcare system Romney praised during his July overseas rollout, are similar to Obama supporters in that they think they’re entitled to healthcare. 

For that matter, so are Poles, who’s free-enterprise culture Romney praised during that same overseas trip.

And, now that I think about it, so do the Australians, Austrians, Germans, Japanese, Dutch, Taiwanese, and the citizens of quite a few other countries that are known for their people’s feelings of victimhood and socialist freeloading. 

SECOND UPDATE:I’m copying here the three comments posted to this post:

Elliot MacLeod-Michael Sep 18, 2012 1:44:00 PM

I sure hope people like Boeing don’t catch wind of this, or any other massive company type people who do not pay taxes.

little john Sep 18, 2012 2:12:00 PM

This blog told me earlier that the Farm Bill was welfare for Agribusiness. Now it’s just for “regular” farmers in Kansas, Nebraska and Indiana? Hmmm.

Beverly Mann Sep 18, 2012 3:23:00 PM  

No, john, my post doesn’t say that the Farm Bill is just for regular farmers. It’s also for agribusinesses, who, as Elliot points out, are people too. And some of them may not pay taxes, and the rest pay taxes at, I guess, about the rate that Romney did for 2010.

Presumably, the ones who pay no taxes will vote for Obama in the hope of avoiding taking personal (they’re people, after all) responsibility for themselves.

So sorry; I couldn’t resist.

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Solamere Capital offered to help fund the auto-industry managed bankruptcy … just like Bain Capital!

Ah.  Well, now we know what Romney has in mind when he says that GM and Chrysler didn’t need federal bailout funds in late 2008 and early 2009 in order to undergo bankruptcy reorganization rather than be forced to liquidate, because there was private-equity funding available for that purpose.  Solamere Capital and its Rolodex of potential investors were available to provide the funding, but, stupidly, no one from the Obama administration thought to contact them. 

Anyway, I can’t wait to hear the statistics on how many jobs Tagg Romney created!

(NOTE: This entire post, including its title, is intended as facetious.)

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Steven Rattner Misses the Point (Romney’s and Obama’s) – POSTSCRIPT ADDED 5/16*

Last February, in the lead-up to the all-important Michigan primary, Romney wrote an op-ed piece in the Detroit News titled “U.S. autos bailout ‘was crony capitalism on a grand scale’.”  The dual purpose of the piece was to defend the recommendation he made in a November 18, 2008 op-ed article in the New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” by saying falsely that GM and Chrysler did not need federal funds to proceed successfully through bankruptcy reorganization rather than having to liquidate, and to complain that the terms of the federally-financed bankruptcy outcome included an agreement by which the UAW received shares of stock in GM in exchange for the union’s assuming the company’s healthcare liability. 
In a rebuttal op-ed in the New York Times, Steven Rattner, the Obama administration’s auto taskforce chief advisor and himself a venture capitalist, deconstructed Romney’s claims, especially the statement that private capital was available to fund the reorganization process.  Rattner wrote:

In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines.

I know this because the administration’s auto task force, for which I was the lead adviser, spoke diligently to all conceivable providers of funds, and not one had the slightest interest in financing those companies on any terms. If Mr. Romney disagrees, he should come forward with specific names of willing investors in place of empty rhetoric. I predict that he won’t be able to, because there aren’t any.

So even though Rattner is a venture capitalist, I was a little surprised to read that he characterized a new Obama ad as unfair for targeting Romney’s work as a venture capitalist for Bain Capital by illustrating what that work actually entailed.  The ad, which responds to Romney’s claim to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain, shows what happened at a Kansas City steel mill that Bain bought not for the purpose of creating jobs but for the purpose of shuttering it after Bain had made some money from it. 

Rattner said that the two candidates should not pretend that the purpose of venture capitalism is to create jobs.  Romney, he said, should not have claimed that he created 100,000 jobs while at Bain.  And Obama should not complain that Bain’s brand of venture capitalism often was to buy ongoing businesses, milk them quickly, and disassemble them in liquidation or for the value of their parts.

“Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for its investors,” Rattner is quoted as saying. “This is part of capitalism, this is part of life.  I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.”

Well, okay.  And the more common types of venture capitalism—of the funding-of-Silicon-Valley-or-biotech-start-up variety, for example—will, if all goes well, create profits for the investors and create jobs.  But that’s not the type of venture capitalist Romney was. 

Yet the entire premise of Romney’s campaign is that he’ll use his business acumen, demonstrated during his Bain years, to create jobs, not that he’ll use it to create profits for investors.  He’s running for president, not for chairman of the board of Goldman Sachs.  Which is why he says he created 100,000 jobs as head of Bain Capital.  And which is why Obama wants to show that, well, Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number; it was instead to create profits for its investors.  And that it created profits for its investors.  And exactly how it did that, and what the consequence was for the employees who were the collateral damage.  (“Like watching an old friend bleed to death,” one of the former steel mill employees says in the ad.)

Rattner’s right that it is indeed part of capitalism, part of life.  And Bain Capital may not have done anything it needs to be embarrassed about.  But Bain Capital is not running for president claiming that its purpose is to create jobs and that it knows how to have the economy create hundreds of thousands of jobs each month, when in fact its sole purpose is to make a profit for its investors and all it has demonstrated is that it can do that well and that job creation and job loss are irrelevant to its purpose and to the outcomes.  Romney, by contrast, is running for president claiming exactly that.  An ad by his opponent pointing out that, contrary to his incessant assertions, Romney’s work at Bain was disconnected from job creation in both purpose and result is not only fair but directly on point.  

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*POSTSCRIPT: In the comments to this post, reader SW wrote:

Isn’t this completely obvious to everyone except those who are paid to confuse the issue?  Or who are incredibly stupid?

I responded:

I would think so, and for that reason I debated whether to write the post.  I decided to write it because I’ve been surprised that there has been almost no public discussion, best as I can tell, about the difference between the type of venture capitalism that helps startups or helps companies expand, and the type of venture capitalism—appropriately nicknamed vulture capitalism—that Romney practiced at Bain Capital.  For example, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists do not (to my knowledge) buy companies in order to strip them down or outright liquidate them. The key paragraph in my post is:

Well, okay.  And the more common types of venture capitalism—of the funding-of-Silicon-Valley-or-biotech-start-up variety, for example—will, if all goes well, create profits for the investors and create jobs.  But that’s not the type of venture capitalist Romney was. 

I’d love to see mainstream news outlets and the Obama campaign discuss this.  

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