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Taibbi writes: "Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin."

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Romney and Bain: The True Story

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

29 August 12


he great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn't stand for anything. He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn't be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist - they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin - like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race.

Like John McCain four years before, Romney desperately needed a vice-presidential pick that would change the game. But where McCain bet on a combustive mix of clueless novelty and suburban sexual tension named Sarah Palin, Romney bet on an idea. He said as much when he unveiled his choice of Ryan, the author of a hair-raising budget-cutting plan best known for its willingness to slash the sacred cows of Medicare and Medicaid. "Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party,” Romney told frenzied Republican supporters in Norfolk, Virginia, standing before the reliably jingoistic backdrop of a floating warship. "He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt.”

Debt, debt, debt. If the Republican Party had a James Carville, this is what he would have said to win Mitt over, in whatever late-night war room session led to the Ryan pick: "It's the debt, stupid.” This is the way to defeat Barack Obama: to recast the race as a jeremiad against debt, something just about everybody who's ever gotten a bill in the mail hates on a primal level.

Last May, in a much-touted speech in Iowa, Romney used language that was literally inflammatory to describe America's federal borrowing. "A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation,” he declared. "Every day we fail to act, that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love.” Our collective debt is no ordinary problem: According to Mitt, it's going to burn our children alive.

And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a "turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions - placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you'll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie. It's almost enough to make you think he really is qualified for the White House.

The unlikeliness of Romney's gambit isn't simply a reflection of his own artlessly unapologetic mindset - it stands as an emblem for the resiliency of the entire sociopathic Wall Street set he represents. Four years ago, the Mitt Romneys of the world nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed, shortsightedness and - most notably - wildly irresponsible use of debt in pursuit of personal profit. The sight was so disgusting that people everywhere were ready to drop an H-bomb on Lower Manhattan and bayonet the survivors. But today that same insane greed ethos, that same belief in the lunatic pursuit of instant borrowed millions - it's dusted itself off, it's had a shave and a shoeshine, and it's back out there running for president.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street's greed revolution. He's not a two-bit, shifty-eyed huckster like Lloyd Blankfein. He's not a sighing, eye-rolling, arrogant jerkwad like Jamie Dimon. But Mitt believes the same things those guys believe: He's been right with them on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let's-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let's-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products. Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of "creative destruction,” and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America's rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.

Mitt Romney - a man whose own father built cars and nurtured communities, and was one of the old-school industrial anachronisms pushed aside by the new generation's wealth grab - has emerged now to sell this make-nothing, take-everything, screw-everyone ethos to the world. He's Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR - and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we'll all end up paying for the acquisition.

illard "Mitt” Romney's background in many ways suggests a man who was born to be president - disgustingly rich from birth, raised in prep schools, no early exposure to minorities outside of maids, a powerful daddy to clean up his missteps, and timely exemptions from military service. In Romney's bio there are some eerie early-life similarities to other recent presidential figures. (Is America really ready for another Republican president who was a prep-school cheerleader?) And like other great presidential double-talkers such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Romney has shown particular aptitude in the area of telling multiple factual versions of his own life story.

"I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there,” he claimed years after the war. To a different audience, he said, "I was not planning on signing up for the military. It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.”

Like John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush, men whose way into power was smoothed by celebrity fathers but who rebelled against their parental legacy as mature politicians, Mitt Romney's career has been both a tribute to and a repudiation of his famous father. George Romney in the 1950s became CEO of American Motors Corp., made a modest fortune betting on energy efficiency in an age of gas guzzlers and ended up serving as governor of the state of Michigan only two generations removed from the Romney clan's tradition of polygamy. For Mitt, who grew up worshipping his tall, craggily handsome, politically moderate father, life was less rocky: Cranbrook prep school in suburban Detroit, followed by Stanford in the Sixties, a missionary term in which he spent two and a half years trying (as he said) to persuade the French to "give up your wine,” and Harvard Business School in the Seventies. Then, faced with making a career choice, Mitt chose an odd one: Already married and a father of two, he left Harvard and eschewed both politics and the law to enter the at-the-time unsexy world of financial consulting.

"When you get out of a place like Harvard, you can do anything - at least in the old days you could,” says a prominent corporate lawyer on Wall Street who is familiar with Romney's career. "But he comes out, he not only has a Harvard Business School degree, he's got a national pedigree with his name. He could have done anything - but what does he do? He says, ‘I'm going to spend my life loading up distressed companies with debt.' ”

Romney started off at the Boston Consulting Group, where he showed an aptitude for crunching numbers and glad-handing clients. Then, in 1977, he joined a young entrepreneur named Bill Bain at a firm called Bain & Company, where he worked for six years before being handed the reins of a new firm-within-a-firm called Bain Capital.

In Romney's version of the tale, Bain Capital - which evolved into what is today known as a private equity firm - specialized in turning around moribund companies (Romney even wrote a book called Turnaround that complements his other nauseatingly self-complimentary book, No Apology) and helped create the Staples office-supply chain. On the campaign trail, Romney relentlessly trades on his own self-perpetuated reputation as a kind of altruistic rescuer of failing enterprises, never missing an opportunity to use the word "help” or "helped” in his description of what he and Bain did for companies. He might, for instance, describe himself as having been "deeply involved in helping other businesses” or say he "helped create tens of thousands of jobs.”

The reality is that toward the middle of his career at Bain, Romney made a fateful strategic decision: He moved away from creating companies like Staples through venture capital schemes, and toward a business model that involved borrowing huge sums of money to take over existing firms, then extracting value from them by force. He decided, as he later put it, that "there's a lot greater risk in a startup than there is in acquiring an existing company.” In the Eighties, when Romney made this move, this form of financial piracy became known as a leveraged buyout, and it achieved iconic status thanks to Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Gekko's business strategy was essentially identical to the Romney -Bain model, only Gekko called himself a "liberator” of companies instead of a "helper.”

Here's how Romney would go about "liberating” a company: A private equity firm like Bain typically seeks out floundering businesses with good cash flows. It then puts down a relatively small amount of its own money and runs to a big bank like Goldman Sachs or Citigroup for the rest of the financing. (Most leveraged buyouts are financed with 60 to 90 percent borrowed cash.) The takeover firm then uses that borrowed money to buy a controlling stake in the target company, either with or without its consent. When an LBO is done without the consent of the target, it's called a hostile takeover; such thrilling acts of corporate piracy were made legend in the Eighties, most notably the 1988 attack by notorious corporate raiders Kohlberg Kravis Roberts against RJR Nabisco, a deal memorialized in the book Barbarians at the Gate.

Romney and Bain avoided the hostile approach, preferring to secure the cooperation of their takeover targets by buying off a company's management with lucrative bonuses. Once management is on board, the rest is just math. So if the target company is worth $500 million, Bain might put down $20 million of its own cash, then borrow $350 million from an investment bank to take over a controlling stake.

But here's the catch. When Bain borrows all of that money from the bank, it's the target company that ends up on the hook for all of the debt.

Now your troubled firm - let's say you make tricycles in Alabama - has been taken over by a bunch of slick Wall Street dudes who kicked in as little as five percent as a down payment. So in addition to whatever problems you had before, Tricycle Inc. now owes Goldman or Citigroup $350 million. With all that new debt service to pay, the company's bottom line is suddenly untenable: You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level.

"That interest,” says Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, "just sucks the profit out of the company.”

Fortunately, the geniuses at Bain who now run the place are there to help tell you whom to fire. And for the service it performs cutting your company's costs to help you pay off the massive debt that it, Bain, saddled your company with in the first place, Bain naturally charges a management fee, typically millions of dollars a year. So Tricycle Inc. now has two gigantic new burdens it never had before Bain Capital stepped into the picture: tens of millions in annual debt service, and millions more in "management fees.” Since the initial acquisition of Tricycle Inc. was probably greased by promising the company's upper management lucrative bonuses, all that pain inevitably comes out of just one place: the benefits and payroll of the hourly workforce.

Once all that debt is added, one of two things can happen. The company can fire workers and slash benefits to pay off all its new obligations to Goldman Sachs and Bain, leaving it ripe to be resold by Bain at a huge profit. Or it can go bankrupt - this happens after about seven percent of all private equity buyouts - leaving behind one or more shuttered factory towns. Either way, Bain wins. By power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up.

This business model wasn't really "helping,” of course - and it wasn't new. Fans of mob movies will recognize what's known as the "bust-out,” in which a gangster takes over a restaurant or sporting goods store and then monetizes his investment by running up giant debts on the company's credit line. (Think Paulie buying all those cases of Cutty Sark in Goodfellas.) When the note comes due, the mobster simply torches the restaurant and collects the insurance money. Reduced to their most basic level, the leveraged buyouts engineered by Romney followed exactly the same business model. "It's the bust-out,” one Wall Street trader says with a laugh. "That's all it is.”

rivate equity firms aren't necessarily evil by definition. There are many stories of successful turnarounds fueled by private equity, often involving multiple floundering businesses that are rolled into a single entity, eliminating duplicative overhead. Experian, the giant credit-rating tyrant, was acquired by Bain in the Nineties and went on to become an industry leader.

But there's a key difference between private equity firms and the businesses that were America's original industrial cornerstones, like the elder Romney's AMC. Everyone had a stake in the success of those old businesses, which spread prosperity by putting people to work. But even private equity's most enthusiastic adherents have difficulty explaining its benefit to society. Marc Wolpow, a former Bain colleague of Romney's, told reporters during Mitt's first Senate run that Romney erred in trying to sell his business as good for everyone. "I believed he was making a mistake by framing himself as a job creator,” said Wolpow. "That was not his or Bain's or the industry's primary objective. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors.” When it comes to private equity, American workers - not to mention their families and communities - simply don't enter into the equation.

Take a typical Bain transaction involving an Indiana-based company called American Pad and Paper. Bain bought Ampad in 1992 for just $5 million, financing the rest of the deal with borrowed cash. Within three years, Ampad was paying $60 million in annual debt payments, plus an additional $7 million in management fees. A year later, Bain led Ampad to go public, cashed out about $50 million in stock for itself and its investors, charged the firm $2 million for arranging the IPO and pocketed another $5 million in "management” fees. Ampad wound up going bankrupt, and hundreds of workers lost their jobs, but Bain and Romney weren't crying: They'd made more than $100 million on a $5 million investment.

To recap: Romney, who has compared the devilish federal debt to a "nightmare” home mortgage that is "adjustable, no-money down and assigned to our children,” took over Ampad with essentially no money down, saddled the firm with a nightmare debt and assigned the crushing interest payments not to Bain but to the children of Ampad's workers, who would be left holding the note long after Romney fled the scene. The mortgage analogy is so obvious, in fact, that even Romney himself has made it. He once described Bain's debt-fueled strategy as "using the equivalent of a mortgage to leverage up our investment.”

Romney has always kept his distance from the real-life consequences of his profiteering. At one point during Bain's looting of Ampad, a worker named Randy Johnson sent a handwritten letter to Romney, asking him to intervene to save an Ampad factory in Marion, Indiana. In a sterling demonstration of manliness and willingness to face a difficult conversation, Romney, who had just lost his race for the Senate in Massachusetts, wrote Johnson that he was "sorry,” but his lawyers had advised him not to get involved. (So much for the candidate who insists that his way is always to "fight to save every job.”)

This is typical Romney, who consistently adopts a public posture of having been above the fray, with no blood on his hands from any of the deals he personally engineered. "I never actually ran one of our investments,” he says in Turnaround. "That was left to management.”

In reality, though, Romney was unquestionably the decider at Bain. "I insisted on having almost dictatorial powers,” he bragged years after the Ampad deal. Over the years, colleagues would anonymously whisper stories about Mitt the Boss to the press, describing him as cunning, manipulative and a little bit nuts, with "an ability to identify people's insecurities and exploit them for his own benefit.” One former Bain employee said that Romney would screw around with bonuses in small amounts, just to mess with people: He would give $3 million to one, $3.1 million to another and $2.9 million to a third, just to keep those below him on edge.

The private equity business in the early Nineties was dominated by a handful of takeover firms, from the spooky and politically connected Carlyle Group (a favorite subject of conspiracy-theory lit, with its connections to right-wingers like Donald Rumsfeld and George H.W. Bush) to the equally spooky Democrat-leaning assholes at the Blackstone Group. But even among such a colorful cast of characters, Bain had a reputation on Wall Street for secrecy and extreme weirdness - "the KGB of consulting.” Its employees, known for their Mormonish uniform of white shirts and red power ties, were dubbed "Bainies” by other Wall Streeters, a rip on the fanatical "Moonies.” The firm earned the name thanks to its idiotically adolescent Spy Kids culture, in which these glorified slumlords used code names, didn't carry business cards and even sang "company songs” to boost morale.

The seemingly religious flavor of Bain's culture smacks of the generally cultish ethos on Wall Street, in which all sorts of ethically questionable behaviors are justified as being necessary in service of the church of making money. Romney belongs to a true-believer subset within that cult, with a revolutionary's faith in the wisdom of the pure free market, in which destroying companies and sucking the value out of them for personal gain is part of the greater good, and governments should "stand aside and allow the creative destruction inherent in the free economy.”

That cultlike zeal helps explains why Romney takes such a curiously unapologetic approach to his own flip-flopping. His infamous changes of stance are not little wispy ideological alterations of a few degrees here or there - they are perfect and absolute mathematical reversals, as in "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country” and "I am firmly pro-life.” Yet unlike other politicians, who at least recognize that saying completely contradictory things presents a political problem, Romney seems genuinely puzzled by the public's insistence that he be consistent. "I'm not going to apologize for having changed my mind,” he likes to say. It's an attitude that recalls the standard defense offered by Wall Street in the wake of some of its most recent and notorious crimes: Goldman Sachs excused its lying to clients, for example, by insisting that its customers are "sophisticated investors” who should expect to be lied to. "Last time I checked,” former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack sneered after the same scandal, "we were in business to be profitable.” Within the cult of Wall Street that forged Mitt Romney, making money justifies any behavior, no matter how venal. The look on Romney's face when he refuses to apologize says it all: Hey, I'm trying to win an election. We're all grown-ups here. After the Ampad deal, Romney expressed contempt for critics who lived in "fantasy land.” "This is the real world,” he said, "and in the real world there is nothing wrong with companies trying to compete, trying to stay alive, trying to make money.”

In the old days, making money required sharing the wealth: with assembly-line workers, with middle management, with schools and communities, with investors. Even the Gilded Age robber barons, despite their unapologetic efforts to keep workers from getting any rights at all, built America in spite of themselves, erecting railroads and oil wells and telegraph wires. And from the time the monopolists were reined in with antitrust laws through the days when men like Mitt Romney's dad exited center stage in our economy, the American social contract was pretty consistent: The rich got to stay rich, often filthy rich, but they paid taxes and a living wage and everyone else rose at least a little bit along with them.

But under Romney's business model, leveraging other people's debt means you can carve out big profits for yourself and leave everyone else holding the bag. Despite what Romney claims, the rate of return he provided for Bain's investors over the years wasn't all that great. Romney biographer and Wall Street Journal reporter Brett Arends, who analyzed Bain's performance between 1984 and 1998, concludes that the firm's returns were likely less than 30 percent per year, which happened to track more or less with the stock market's average during that time. "That's how much money you could have made by issuing company bonds and then spending the money picking stocks out of the paper at random,” Arends observes. So for all the destruction Romney wreaked on Middle America in the name of "trying to make money,” investors could have just plunked their money into traditional stocks and gotten pretty much the same returns.

The only ones who profited in a big way from all the job-killing debt that Romney leveraged were Mitt and his buddies at Bain, along with Wall Street firms like Goldman and Citigroup. Barry Ritholtz, author of Bailout Nation, says the criticisms of Bain about layoffs and meanness miss a more important point, which is that the firm's profit-producing record is absurdly mediocre, especially when set against all the trouble and pain its business model causes. "Bain's fundamental flaw, at least according to the math,” Ritholtz writes, "is that they took lots of risk, use immense leverage and charged enormous fees, for performance that was more or less the same as [stock] indexing.”

'm not a Romney guy, because I'm not a Bain guy,” says Lenny Patnode, in an Irish pub in the factory town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. "But I'm not an Obama guy, either. Just so you know.”

I feel bad even asking Patnode about Romney. Big and burly, with white hair and the thick forearms of a man who's stocked a shelf or two in his lifetime, he seems to belong to an era before things like leveraged debt even existed. For 38 years, Patnode worked for a company called KB Toys in Pittsfield. He was the longest-serving employee in the company's history, opening some of the firm's first mall stores, making some of its canniest product buys ( "Tamagotchi pets,” he says, beaming, "and Tech-Decks, too”), traveling all over the world to help build an empire that at its peak included 1,300 stores. "There were times when I worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day,” he says. "I opened three stores in two months once.”

Then in 2000, right before Romney gave up his ownership stake in Bain Capital, the firm targeted KB Toys. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.

In a typical private-equity fragging, Bain put up a mere $18 million to acquire KB Toys and got big banks to finance the remaining $302 million it needed. Less than a year and a half after the purchase, Bain decided to give itself a gift known as a "dividend recapitalization.” The firm induced KB Toys to redeem $121 million in stock and take out more than $66 million in bank loans - $83 million of which went directly into the pockets of Bain's owners and investors, including Romney. "The dividend recap is like borrowing someone else's credit card to take out a cash advance, and then leaving them to pay it off,” says Heather Slavkin Corzo, who monitors private equity takeovers as the senior legal policy adviser for the AFL-CIO.

Bain ended up earning a return of at least 370 percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. KB's former parent company, Big Lots, alleged in bankruptcy court that Bain's "unjustified” return on the dividend recap was actually "900 percent in a mere 16 months.” Patnode, by contrast, was fired in December 2008, after almost four decades on the job. Like other employees, he didn't get a single day's severance.

I ask Slavkin Corzo what Bain's justification was for the giant dividend recapitalization in the KB Toys acquisition. The question throws her, as though she's surprised anyone would ask for a reason a company like Bain would loot a firm like KB Toys. "It wasn't like, ‘Yay, we did a good job, we get a dividend,'” she says with a laugh. "It was like, ‘We can do this, so we will.' ”

At the time of the KB Toys deal, Romney was a Bain investor and owner, making him a mere beneficiary of the raping and pillaging, rather than its direct organizer. Moreover, KB's demise was hastened by a host of genuine market forces, including competition from video games and cellphones. But there's absolutely no way to look at what Bain did at KB and see anything but a cash grab - one that followed the business model laid out by Romney. Rather than cutting costs and tightening belts, Bain added $300 million in debt to the firm's bottom line while taking out more than $120 million in cash - an outright looting that creditors later described in a lawsuit as "breaking open the piggy bank.” What's more, Bain smoothed the deal in typical fashion by giving huge bonuses to the company's top managers as the firm headed toward bankruptcy. CEO Michael Glazer got an incredible $18.4 million, while CFO Robert Feldman received $4.8 million and senior VP Thomas Alfonsi took home $3.3 million.

And what did Bain bring to the table in return for its massive, outsize payout? KB Toys had built a small empire by targeting middle-class buyers with value-priced products. It succeeded mainly because the firm's leaders had a great instinct for what they were making and selling. These were people who had been in the specialty toy business since 1922; collectively, they had millions of man-hours of knowledge about how the industry works and how toy customers behave. KB's president in the Eighties, the late Saul Rubenstein, used to carry around a giant computer printout of the company's inventory, and would fall asleep reading it on the weekends, the pages clasped to his chest. "He knew the name and number of all those toys,” his widow, Shirley, says proudly. "He loved toys.”

Bain's experience in the toy industry, by contrast, was precisely bupkus. They didn't know a damn thing about the business they had taken over - and they never cared to learn. The firm's entire contribution was $18 million in cash and a huge mound of borrowed money that gave it the power to pull the levers. "The people who came in after - they were never toy people,” says Shirley Rubenstein. To make matters worse, former employees say, Bain deluged them with requests for paperwork and reports, forcing them to worry more about the whims of their new bosses than the demands of their customers. "We took our eye off the ball,” Patnode says. "And if you take your eye off the ball, you strike out.”

In the end, Bain never bothered to come up with a plan for how KB Toys could meet the 21st-century challenges of video games and cellphone gadgets that were the company's ostensible downfall. And that's where Romney's self-touted reputation as a turnaround specialist is a myth. In the Bain model, the actual turnaround isn't necessary. It's just a cover story. It's nice for the private equity firm if it happens, because it makes the acquired company more attractive for resale or an IPO. But it's mostly irrelevant to the success of the takeover model, where huge cash returns are extracted whether the captured firm thrives or not.

"The thing about it is, nobody gets hurt,” says Patnode. "Except the people who worked here.”

omney was a prime mover in the radical social and political transformation that was cooked up by Wall Street beginning in the 1980s. In fact, you can trace the whole history of the modern age of financialization just by following the highly specific corner of the economic universe inhabited by the leveraged buyout business, where Mitt Romney thrived. If you look at the number of leveraged buyouts dating back two or three decades, you see a clear pattern: Takeovers rose sharply with each of Wall Street's great easy-money schemes, then plummeted just as sharply after each of those scams crashed and burned, leaving the rest of us with the bill.

In the Eighties, when Romney and Bain were cutting their teeth in the LBO business, the primary magic trick involved the junk bonds pioneered by convicted felon Mike Milken, which allowed firms like Bain to find easy financing for takeovers by using wildly overpriced distressed corporate bonds as collateral. Junk bonds gave the Gordon Gekkos of the world sudden primacy over old-school industrial titans like the Fords and the Rockefellers: For the first time, the ability to make deals became more valuable than the ability to make stuff, and the ability to instantly engineer billions in illusory financing trumped the comparatively slow process of making and selling products for gradual returns.

Romney was right in the middle of this radical change. In fact, according to The Boston Globe  - whose in-depth reporting on Romney and Bain has spanned three decades - one of Romney's first LBO deals, and one of his most profitable, involved Mike Milken himself. Bain put down $10 million in cash, got $300 million in financing from Milken and bought a pair of department-store chains, Bealls Brothers and Palais Royal. In what should by now be a familiar outcome, the two chains - which Bain merged into a single outfit called Stage Stores - filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000 under the weight of more than $444 million in debt. As always, Bain took no responsibility for the company's demise. (If you search the public record, you will not find a single instance of Mitt Romney taking responsibility for a company's failure.) Instead, Bain blamed Stage's collapse on "operating problems” that took place three years after Bain cashed out, finishing with a $175 million return on its initial investment of $10 million.

But here's the interesting twist: Romney made the Bealls-Palais deal just as the federal government was launching charges of massive manipulation and insider trading against Milken and his firm, Drexel Burnham Lambert. After what must have been a lengthy and agonizing period of moral soul-searching, however, Romney decided not to kill the deal, despite its shady financing. "We did not say, ‘Oh, my goodness, Drexel has been accused of something, not been found guilty,' ” Romney told reporters years after the deal. "Should we basically stop the transaction and blow the whole thing up?”

In an even more incredible disregard for basic morality, Romney forged ahead with the deal even though Milken's case was being heard by a federal district judge named Milton Pollack, whose wife, Moselle, happened to be the chairwoman of none other than Palais Royal. In short, one of Romney's first takeover deals was financed by dirty money - and one of the corporate chiefs about to receive a big payout from Bain was married to the judge hearing the case. Although the SEC took no formal action, it issued a sharp criticism, complaining that Romney was allowing Milken's money to have a possible influence over "the administration of justice.”

After Milken and his junk bond scheme crashed in the late Eighties, Romney and other takeover artists moved on to Wall Street's next get-rich-quick scheme: the tech-Internet stock bubble. By 1997 and 1998, there were nearly $400 billion in leveraged buyouts a year, as easy money once again gave these financial piracy firms the ammunition they needed to raid companies like KB Toys. Firms like Bain even have a colorful pirate name for the pools of takeover money they raise in advance from pension funds, university endowments and other institutional investors. "They call it dry powder,” says Slavkin Corzo, the union adviser.

After the Internet bubble burst and private equity started cashing in on Wall Street's mortgage scam, LBO deals ballooned to almost $900 billion in 2006. Once again, storied companies with long histories and deep regional ties were descended upon by Bain and other pirates, saddled with hundreds of millions in debt, forced to pay huge management fees and "dividend recapitalizations,” and ridden into bankruptcy amid waves of layoffs. Established firms like Del Monte, Hertz and Dollar General were all taken over in a "prairie fire of debt” - one even more destructive than the government borrowing that Romney is flogging on the campaign trial. When Hertz was conquered in 2005 by a trio of private equity firms, including the Carlyle Group, the interest payments on its debt soared by a monstrous 80 percent, forcing the company to eliminate a third of its 32,000 jobs.

In 2010, a year after the last round of Hertz layoffs, Carlyle teamed up with Bain to take $500 million out of another takeover target: the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. Dunkin' had to take out a $1.25 billion loan to pay a dividend to its new private equity owners. So think of this the next time you go to Dunkin' Donuts for a cup of coffee: A small cup of joe costs about $1.69 in most outlets, which means that for years to come, Dunkin' Donuts will have to sell about 2,011,834 small coffees every month - about $3.4 million - just to meet the interest payments on the loan it took out to pay Bain and Carlyle their little one-time dividend. And that doesn't include the principal on the loan, or the additional millions in debt that Dunkin' has to pay every year to get out from under the $2.4 billion in debt it's now saddled with after having the privilege of being taken over - with borrowed money - by the firm that Romney built.

f you haven't heard much about how takeover deals like Dunkin' and KB Toys work, that's because Mitt Romney and his private equity brethren don't want you to. The new owners of American industry are the polar opposites of the Milton Hersheys and Andrew Carnegies who built this country, commercial titans who longed to leave visible legacies of their accomplishments, erecting hospitals and schools and libraries, sometimes leaving behind thriving towns that bore their names.

The men of the private equity generation want no such thing. "We try to hide religiously,” explained Steven Feinberg, the CEO of a takeover firm called Cerberus Capital Management that recently drove one of its targets into bankruptcy after saddling it with $2.3 billion in debt. "If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person,” Feinberg told shareholders in 2007. "We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it.”

Which brings us to another aspect of Romney's business career that has largely been hidden from voters: His personal fortune would not have been possible without the direct assistance of the U.S. government. The taxpayer-funded subsidies that Romney has received go well beyond the humdrum, backdoor, welfare-sucking that all supposedly self-made free marketeers inevitably indulge in. Not that Romney hasn't done just fine at milking the government when it suits his purposes, the most obvious instance being the incredible $1.5 billion in aid he siphoned out of the U.S. Treasury as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake - a sum greater than all federal spending for the previous seven U.S. Olympic games combined. Romney, the supposed fiscal conservative, blew through an average of $625,000 in taxpayer money per athlete - an astounding increase of 5,582 percent over the $11,000 average at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. In 1993, right as he was preparing to run for the Senate, Romney also engineered a government deal worth at least $10 million for Bain's consulting firm, when it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. (See "The Federal Bailout That Saved Romney,” page 52.)

But the way Romney most directly owes his success to the government is through the structure of the tax code. The entire business of leveraged buyouts wouldn't be possible without a provision in the federal code that allows companies like Bain to deduct the interest on the debt they use to acquire and loot their targets. This is the same universally beloved tax deduction you can use to write off your mortgage interest payments, so tampering with it is considered political suicide - it's been called the "third rail of tax reform.” So the Romney who routinely rails against the national debt as some kind of child-killing "mortgage” is the same man who spent decades exploiting a tax deduction specifically designed for mortgage holders in order to bilk every dollar he could out of U.S. businesses before burning them to the ground.

Because minus that tax break, Romney's debt-based takeovers would have been unsustainably expensive. Before Lynn Turner became chief accountant of the SEC, where he reviewed filings on takeover deals, he crunched the numbers on leveraged buyouts as an accountant at a Big Four auditing firm. "In the majority of these deals,” Turner says, "the tax deduction has a big enough impact on the bottom line that the takeover wouldn't work without it.”

Thanks to the tax deduction, in other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. Romney the businessman built his career on two things that Romney the candidate decries: massive debt and dumb federal giveaways. "I don't know what Romney would be doing but for debt and its tax-advantaged position in the tax code,” says a prominent Wall Street lawyer, "but he wouldn't be fabulously wealthy.”

Adding to the hypocrisy, the money that Romney personally pocketed on Bain's takeover deals was usually taxed not as income, but either as capital gains or as "carried interest,” both of which are capped at a maximum rate of 15 percent. In addition, reporters have uncovered plenty of evidence that Romney takes full advantage of offshore tax havens: He has an interest in at least 12 Bain funds, worth a total of $30 million, that are based in the Cayman Islands; he has reportedly used a squirrelly tax shelter known as a "blocker corporation” that cheats taxpayers out of some $100 million a year; and his wife, Ann, had a Swiss bank account worth $3 million. As a private equity pirate, Romney pays less than half the tax rate of most American executives - less, even, than teachers, firefighters, cops and nurses. Asked about the fact that he paid a tax rate of only 13.9 percent on income of $21.7 million in 2010, Romney responded testily that the massive windfall he enjoys from exploiting the tax code is "entirely legal and fair.”

Essentially, Romney got rich in a business that couldn't exist without a perverse tax break, and he got to keep double his earnings because of another loophole - a pair of bureaucratic accidents that have not only teamed up to threaten us with a Mitt Romney presidency but that make future Romneys far more likely. "Those two tax rules distort the economics of private equity investments, making them much more lucrative than they should be,” says Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel at the Center for Tax Justice. "So we get more of that activity than the market would support on its own.”

isten to Mitt Romney speak, and see if you can notice what's missing. This is a man who grew up in Michigan, went to college in California, walked door to door through the streets of southern France as a missionary and was a governor of Massachusetts, the home of perhaps the most instantly recognizable, heavily accented English this side of Edinburgh. Yet not a trace of any of these places is detectable in Romney's diction. None of the people in any of those places bled in and left a mark on the man.

Romney is a man from nowhere. In his post-regional attitude, he shares something with his campaign opponent, Barack Obama, whose background is a similarly jumbled pastiche of regionally nonspecific non-identity. But in the way he bounced around the world as a half-orphaned child, Obama was more like an involuntary passenger in the demographic revolution reshaping the planet than one of its leaders.

Romney, on the other hand, is a perfect representative of one side of the ominous cultural divide that will define the next generation, not just here in America but all over the world. Forget about the Southern strategy, blue versus red, swing states and swing voters - all of those political clichés are quaint relics of a less threatening era that is now part of our past, or soon will be. The next conflict defining us all is much more unnerving.

That conflict will be between people who live somewhere, and people who live nowhere. It will be between people who consider themselves citizens of actual countries, to which they have patriotic allegiance, and people to whom nations are meaningless, who live in a stateless global archipelago of privilege - a collection of private schools, tax havens and gated residential communities with little or no connection to the outside world.

Mitt Romney isn't blue or red. He's an archipelago man. That's a big reason that voters have been slow to warm up to him. From LBJ to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin, Americans like their politicians to sound like they're from somewhere, to be human symbols of our love affair with small towns, the girl next door, the little pink houses of Mellencamp myth. Most of those mythical American towns grew up around factories - think chocolate bars from Hershey, baseball bats from Louisville, cereals from Battle Creek. Deep down, what scares voters in both parties the most is the thought that these unique and vital places are vanishing or eroding - overrun by immigrants or the forces of globalism or both, with giant Walmarts descending like spaceships to replace the corner grocer, the family barber and the local hardware store, and 1,000 cable channels replacing the school dance and the gossip at the local diner.

Obama ran on "change” in 2008, but Mitt Romney represents a far more real and seismic shift in the American landscape. Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart. The entire purpose of the business model that Romney helped pioneer is to move money into the archipelago from the places outside it, using massive amounts of taxpayer-subsidized debt to enrich a handful of billionaires. It's a vision of society that's crazy, vicious and almost unbelievably selfish, yet it's running for president, and it has a chance of winning. Perhaps that change is coming whether we like it or not. Perhaps Mitt Romney is the best man to manage the transition. But it seems a little early to vote for that kind of wholesale surrender. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+96 # karlarove 2012-08-29 12:03
The truth is the transition that coming will happen faster if Romney is elected. Most cultures don't riot or question change until they have no food and they don't know where their next meal is coming form. We aren't quite there yet. My mentor Dr.Jeremy Taylor says any plan of salvation is doomed if we don't look at our shadow.If Romney-Ryan are elected there will be no question we are a plutocracy.
+49 # brux 2012-08-29 13:32
When i read this article it is clear that we always were a plutocracy, it's just that the small islands of where it was in control have no expanded and bled over to everywhere and everything. The rest of us either fit in as slaves or pests.
+12 # RLF 2012-08-30 05:27
It is also true that this type of business model has been the same since Michael Milkin in the early 80's. It was the creation of Raygun and targets the companies that are rongly funded retirement has traditionally been one of the favorite of these guys. The "correct" the overfunding, load up the company with debt, fire lots of people especially ones that would retire soon with a healthy pension....and then watch the company implode...laugh ing all the way to the bank. This country is so f#*ked if they think this is a business model that is sustainable...w e are headed for a fall that will make the great depression look like a feast...Romney or not...remember Clinton and Obama have both put their stamp of approval on this form of business.
-19 # RobertMStahl 2012-08-30 13:16
And, all of Carl Jung's family heard voices and saw ghosts until Jung began. What he did first was write songs to seraphim. Do I think you are doing that here? Furthermore, for one of the best articles about money in our day, and there is a lot of competition, Tiabbi, you seem to end with an apology. Is that because all wars are won by flanking, and Obama murders children while pardoning the lawbreakers that make it possible? A little Gregory Bateson would be refreshing.

Then, of course, pertaining to this story about kidding around, where is Indira Singh?
+9 # maddave 2012-08-31 08:42
Somebody has to say it, so why not I?

Let's face it, in today's economy and culture, Romney is our political Anti-Christ and Ryan is his willing acolyte.
+56 # medusa 2012-08-29 12:48
fascinating article but to have influence doesn't it need to be edited down to a readable length, and made crystal clear for people who don't read the financial pages, let alone the Wall Street Journal? I have a PhD and find it a little long
Not a complaint--on the contrary I wish these facts would have influence
+45 # brux 2012-08-29 13:56
I agree, in fact that was my first thought. No one reads most of these things anyway most of the time, they just chime in with their propaganda from whatever side.

I posted that this article is really about 20 regular sized internet posts. It is not that it can be edited down, there are way too many ideas and facts to absorb here, of disaparate mindsets ... factual, and emotional.

I wish everyone in the US could get some of these facts,

Are we so broken that dictatorship/fa scism is our only real option? God, I hope not.
+36 # panhead49 2012-08-29 14:54
Quoting medusa:
fascinating article but to have influence doesn't it need to be edited down to a readable length, and made crystal clear for people who don't read the financial pages, let alone the Wall Street Journal? I have a PhD and find it a little long
Not a complaint--on the contrary I wish these facts would have influence

Well, I'm just a humble non-PhD and had no problem reading the entire article and understanding it. Keep writing like you always do Matt - we need to smarten up the readership, not dumb down the articles.
+17 # dhugos 2012-08-29 18:27
I too hope these facts have influence. The problem is that some of these stories take time to understand, time that most people won't commit. So outrageous schemes don't seem that outrageous because you don't really get it. Meanwhile people are gathering up the corners of the rug and just about to pull.
+26 # natalierosen 2012-08-29 20:57
medusa, I agree with you. I am not the greatest when it comes to economics and finance. I have tried to learn the necessities. This article took me a long time to read. I tried to cull out the essence. It is clear when one travels down a once store lined main highway to see so many businesses gone. What is being built like crazy? Banks BIG ONES and lots of them. Why? They are flush with cash.

It is clear the trickle down never trickled and that goods will be made outside of the US UNLESS and until the goods carry a tarrif when imported back. Who will do that? Republicans? Doubtful. Romney raped (legitimately of course) companies, devoured the entrails and took the money leaving thousands upon thousands without jobs.

This if one is voting Republican what you are voting for. It will be a permanent plutocracy and ripe for god forbid violent overthrow. When the people are hungry, have no jobs, no clothing or food anger is the only substance they have left.

Romney/Ryan is compellingly DISGUSTING and will begin the fall of the American Empire perhaps not now but the future may not be so far away! Re-elect the president, it is the ONLY choice!
+26 # Nominae 2012-08-29 23:03
@ medusa

Serious subjects cannot be whittled down to the present-day five second sound byte.

I am grateful that we are even *getting* such detailed and easy-to-compreh end information.

I have zero background in the machinations of Wall Street, and Matt's writing makes this stuff crystal clear to me. In the final analysis, none of this is any more complicated, or any more sophisticated than the time-worn Ponzi scheme.

Wall Street purposely obfuscates and buries everything in arcane argot so that that the "average Joe" (and many Judges as well) will not be able to follow the shenanigans.

Taibbi puts it all into easy-to-grasp common language simply by calling a "spade" a "spade". That's all most of us need to see for ourselves that "The Emperor Has No Clothes".

BTW, no offense, but how does one achieve a PHD, if a simple article such as the above proves overwhelming and intimidating in it's length ?

Education, I see, is definitely *not* what it used to be.
+5 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:04
Yes, I am in complete agreement, as I got past the halfway point, I began to ask myself, who will read this far, people who need to know, will not be getting this information before November 6. Somehow the voting public should be made aware of this, yet there is much information and none of it should be sacrificed. Any ideas?
+1 # ilenewells 2012-08-31 13:44
Don't worry, it will. The juicy bits will get quoted by a lot of people.
+55 # brux 2012-08-29 12:48
> The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move.

Brilliant, there is something really wrong in our nation, and something really bad coming on ....
+6 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:11
Yes, I can see it coming and nobody seems to be able or willing to stop the train crash. My only hope is that Congress gets off its lazy duff and puts up some roadblocks that Obama will sign before its too late, assuming we have not gone past the point of no return.
+23 # omomma 2012-08-29 12:48
Words fail.
+11 # maddave 2012-08-31 09:29
OK, Omomma - let me help you with a whole new statement regarding leveraged buy-outs in general and Romney in particular:

Make no mistakes about the fact that successful, functioning economy MUST have:
1. Aa wealth of new ideas and viable products,
2, Capital to finance the ideas/products,
3. Alert management to keep the train on track
4. Efficient workers to produce the product AND who are paid a wage sufficient to allow these workers to buy the goods that they produce.
5. Consumers - primarily the presumably-well -paid workers who make/buy the cars, washing machines, clothing, TV sets, etc. that the economy produces

I maintain that IF any individual or group of individuals deliberately and systematically attacks and destroys this structure for personal gain, then he is attacking our economic system just as surely as Japan attacked Pearl harbor and, consequently, our culture, the fabric of our society and eah and every one of our 300.000.000+ citizens.

Based upon Taibbi's article, it's clear that , in company after company, Romney & Bain (and others) attacked and destroyed levels 2 & 3, above thus reducing their net workforce from a status of National economic asset to that of a National economic liability ... all for personal gain.

Some might call this treason and perhaps they are correct.
+35 # HowardMH 2012-08-29 12:56
Agree, the problem is the millions of really stupid people that believe the campaign videos the richest 50 people are paying for. Until the Idiots (and I’m not referring to the politicians who are totally bought and paid for) engage brain and realize how bad they are being screwed nothing is going to happen on Capital Hill.
Fact-checkers results only work if the actual results are understood by the millions of stupid people, and we know that isn’t going to happen. When polls ask questions who do you like better as a person, instead of who do you think really understands the complex issues and how to solve them in a manner that will benefit the average American. They liked Obama better than they liked McCain, issues be damned.
+37 # isafakir 2012-08-29 13:18
this is exactly in some detail what i have been critical of bush cheney mcconel republicanism since gore was finagled by bush's handlers and the bush corporation and halliburton owned scotus. in 2000. that was a coup d'etat. this is the culmination. it is not a conspiracy so much as new political system. there is a lot of collusion and a lot of conspiracy in it. it is amazing how prescient late 20 century science fiction has been about corporate cartel takeover of world government has been.

will's corporate leveraged takeover of the USA will leave halliburton BP GE essentially governments without mouths to feed and all the liabilities that entails, bringing china brazil india russia and the eu all down with them, turning them into banana republics in the hands of a few dozen rich families each.
+39 # pagrad 2012-08-29 13:20
I have come to the conclusion that anyone who votes for an American Republican Party candidate is not thinking rationally and not logically. Such a person is not just misguided; they have not received a credible education. In doing so, they are actually dangerous. What should be done with someone who actually endorses Treason?

I used to think that such an act is just a misjudgment or a poor opinion. Not so, these folks are putting the rest of society in danger. A convicted criminal is isolated and put in prison so that they will no longer harm other people. What should be done with individuals who advocate the destruction of our cities and our country?

One just has listen to the nonsense platitudes and irrational statements of these Republicans. If permitted, I can easily show their statements to be irrational. In the meantime, uneducated citizens are easily convinced that truth is being expressed.

The American Republican candidate for President has publicly stated that he prays several times a day. There is no way that this may be proven. However, how can the American public support someone who exposes to lead a nation, based on superstition and unsupported ‘faith’, rather than actuality and facts?
+28 # skipb48 2012-08-29 13:23
Understanding how Bain Capital operated after Mitt left only feeds into his assertions that, "He wasn't there." What really needs to be looked at is how the company operated and dealt with firms they took over while he was there.
+10 # universlman 2012-08-30 09:22
[quote name="skipb48"" He wasn't there."

Excuuse me. Whether or not he was "there" has not officially been determined. I would say that if he attended board meetings as chairman or as a bookend, he was there. He seems to think that if he was not "at work" in the office every day, he was not "there."

No one has asked him if he attended board meetings. Call me sentimental, and God knows that most boards appear useless and impotent when their executives keep asking for huge bonuses and get them, but I beleive that if a board meets, and has a chairman running the meeting, that they are "there," even if they claim to be somewhere else running something else.
+19 # brux 2012-08-29 13:30
I doubt most of the people here even know what an archipelago is ... this article is really great, but really what it is or should be is about 20 different articles or short chapters in a book.

Too bad that book should have come out over a year ago.
+9 # brux 2012-08-29 18:09
Just in case:

archipelago |ˌärkəˈpeləˌgō| noun a group of islands.

So, this article is like an archipelago of articles all mashed together! ;-)
+13 # akh752 2012-08-29 13:36
+34 # CandH 2012-08-29 13:44
Bain Capital, and their ilk, are disgusting. Problem is, the DNC, and specifically the Obama camp have taken campaign donations from Bain Capital, and others of their ilk (the banksters for instance.) No getting around it. Houston, we have a BIG democracy representatives problem.
+46 # BradFromSalem 2012-08-29 14:06
The bottom line here (sorry for the pun) is that any explanation that goes beyond 2 sentences is deemed too long for TV news. Too complicated by large numbers of the populace, especially the undecided. So, when some explains how Bain does business, the only part that people hear is that they buy up a company. How the transaction was constructed is more information than they need. Everyone knows when you buy something you pay for it, then you own it, then you can sell it. If you made a profit selling it, good for you. They never get to hear that Bain buys it and doesn't pay for it. They never hear that Bain never has to pay back the cost of buying the company.
Of course these deal are all legal, but the question not asked is should it be legal. Aren't these transactions fraudulent, in that while Bain and NewCompany have effectively merged, Bain offloads all the bad debt (namely NewCompany) onto one set of books, while Bain's books remain clean. Do we need an AG that will enforce the RICO laws against more than just a few Italian and sometimes Jewish thugs?
Elect Romney, and we elect a mobster, if not in law, then in deed. And this mobster doesn't quite understand the internal brake the mob used called honor.
+9 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:21
"Of course these deal are all legal, but the question not asked is should it be legal. Aren't these transactions fraudulent, in that while Bain and NewCompany have effectively merged, Bain offloads all the bad debt (namely NewCompany) onto one set of books, while Bain's books remain clean. Do we need an AG that will enforce the RICO laws against more than just a few Italian and sometimes Jewish thugs?
Elect Romney, and we elect a mobster, if not in law, then in deed. And this mobster doesn't quite understand the internal brake the mob used called honor."
And there you have it, all in a couple of sentences, now the undecided need to learn it.
+31 # angelfish 2012-08-29 14:18
I'd like to know WHO is writing the Law that ALLOWS this kind of DAMAGING "business" to go on in what is SUPPOSED to be the greatest Country in the FREE (?) World? We are no better than savages to have allowed this kind of destruction, not only to the businesses taken over but to the unsuspecting workers who paid the REAL price of Romney's "success". Please, dear Folks, never, EVER Vote ReTHUGlican!
+36 # AMLLLLL 2012-08-29 14:45
Thanks, Matt, for yet another lucid,salient reveal into the souless Mr. Romney and his ilk. As he said, he only needs 50.1% to win.... the way this 'man' thinks is so scary.

Last night, listening to the RNC speeches, you hear all the speakers talk about getting help along the way, but meanwhile denying that the government had a role in that help. The disconnect is stunning.

Disingenuous is the theme, and will continue to be.
+9 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:23
He does not even need 50.1%, if there is a third party drawing votes away from Obama.
+22 # wleming 2012-08-29 14:59
he drives as hard a bargain
as do the wind and rain
which blow thru firms that hes destoyed
greeds his middle name
his sales force is united
in a great clause
you'll find his words in that great tome
he calls his book of laws
chorus: in that free market system called bain
there is only one chairman of the board
his door is always open
and his salesmen call him the lord,
his salesmen call him the lord
+3 # tigerlille 2012-08-29 17:10
+8 # brux 2012-08-29 17:35
nothing poetic about this story.
+20 # Shorey13 2012-08-29 15:45
Hard to imagine a more telling indictment of our so-called democracy. HBO's The Newsroom just called the Tea Party the American Taliban. Plato is snickering someplace: he said that the primary fallacy of democracy is the incorrect assumption that all citizens are equally capable of self-government . No surprise that this commentary is deemed "too long." The average American attention span is about 30 seconds.

BTW, Thomas Frank's new book, "Pity the Billionaire" savages not only the Tea Party and its clueless supporters, but also the abysmal failure of Obama and the Democratic Party to marshall the "grandly idealistic" vision necessary to derail this onrushing train. God help us!
+37 # Buddha 2012-08-29 15:55
Matt Taibbi again shows he is one of the few honest journalists who is willing to call out our lying Plutocrat class and corrupt Corporate entities. Too bad his audience is small, the few of us with the intellectual curiosity to read his commentaries and bother to understand what he is saying...
+35 # stonecutter 2012-08-29 16:00
I'm avoiding the RNC completely. I missed hearing Christie or Ann Romney about as much as I miss a case of shingles. Same for Ryan, and tomorrow night the Android. Matt Taibbi is a brilliant young guy with an acid sensibility and machete wit, and he has dissected the whole Wall Street RICO thing in the past 3 years better than anyone anywhere; but of course, as many here have opined, this article has as much chance of influencing the electorate as I do of winning Powerball. If we lived in the world we hoped for, the Justice Department would have trotted out RICO under the lights a long time ago and slapped it all over these financial psychopaths. Taibbi himself recently blogged that was at best a wet dream (my metaphor), since Holder and his crew of mediocrities (all the great attorneys are on the other side) are only looking for the easy, slam-dunk cases, and their limited resources in an embattled administration don't help. They end up going after the "street dealers" while the "kingpins" remain on their ocean-going yachts. Where have we seen this before?

I suppose we can all hope somehow Romney's true DNA comes through tomorrow night, and his speech serves to turn off enough Americans to make him "damaged goods", or that the debates show him for the empty suit he is. Don't hold your breath. Gekko (Romney?) said "Greed is good"; play your cards right, it can get you all the way to the White House.
+15 # Doll 2012-08-29 16:08
Romney went from being a Venture capitalist to being a Vulture capitalist.

Yes, I read the whole thing. There is so much to learn here.
+4 # ilenewells 2012-08-31 13:48
I call it Vampire Capitalism because they suck their victims' dry and leave them for dead.
+19 # phyllisbrown 2012-08-29 17:55
If ever I were to label anyone as the anti-christ, it would be Romney. The vicious, heartless way he plotted and destroyed companies is without equal.
+23 # dhugos 2012-08-29 18:32
The problem is that it's a matter of degree - everything is. But the choices are still very clear. You may not "like" Obama or Romney but the choice could not be more stark. Those who say tedious acts like voting are wastes of time, play into the hands of powerful people who want less and less people to actually think.
+16 # Lars Aanning 2012-08-29 18:39
Romney is a very sad sociopathic financial crook.
+11 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:44
I would replace "sad" with "slimy disgusting"
+33 # wrknight 2012-08-29 19:02
I don't see much difference between what Bain Capital did with Ampad and what G. W. Bush did with America. He took over the country with a small down payment out of his own pocket, saddled the country with debt, sold it off to Obama and American taxpayers who now have to find ways to pay off that debt, and reaped substantial personal profits in the process.

Now Romney sees opportunity where Bush didn't finish the job. (There's still a lot left.) He can take over what's left of America (with a little bit of his money and lots of other people's money) and once he has it, he can saddle it with more debt (by cutting taxes) and selling off more assets (jobs, land, factories) to other countries. The 1% profits immensely and he profits by cutting himself in on the deal.

Romney taking over and selling off America would be a feat that would make Bain Capital look like bush league players. Just think what stories he could tell his grandchildren. He could tell them "I helped America".
+18 # Wolfchen 2012-08-29 20:08
Quoting wrknight:
I don't see much difference between what Bain Capital did with Ampad and what G. W. Bush did with America. He took over the country with a small down payment out of his own pocket, saddled the country with debt, sold it off to Obama and American taxpayers who now have to find ways to pay off that debt, and reaped substantial personal profits in the process.

Now Romney sees opportunity where Bush didn't finish the job.

Excellent observation and analogy!

Nation of exceptionally? What a sick joke we've become as a people.

More truthful is the fact that we've become a nation that aids and abets acts of treason against itself! We then ask the crime bosses to put us out of our misery.

In some parts of the world, millions of people are revolting against tyranny. In contrast, many Americans won't even vote with some semblance of intelligence.
+19 # Doc Mary 2012-08-29 20:05
How do you make people understand it? LOCALLY. Where were the companies? Whose jobs were lost? There should have been organizers looking for them - it's a little late, tho it can be done. When you find them? Get them good and pissed off and take them to a Romney rally.

The saddest sentence in that entire article was that the man who's devoted work for K & B was tossed out with the garbage, was careful to say, "But I'm not an Obama guy, either. Just so you know."
+10 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:48
What can you do with people like that? There must be a masochistic gene is his DNA and in a substantial number of the voting public.
+23 # xflowers 2012-08-29 20:07
I don't think the problem is just that people are stupid, maybe they are naive. They can't imagine that a nice looking white guy like him with his pretty blond wife would screw them and our country like he and his ilk have done. Better to blame it on Obama. And we have a press that for the most part lacks the intellect, courage and ability that Taibbi regularly demonstrates to even begin to adequately inform the public, certainly to be the first one who does. But this article is dynamite that cannot be overlooked, and will no doubt inspire discussion in smaller sound bites. I just hope the public will be able to take it all in.
+14 # dovelane1 2012-08-30 05:37
I read somewhere that there are two delusions that most people carry - on, that they are good judges of character, and two, that they are good drivers.

The con artists LOVE dealing with those who think they are good judges of character.

I think it is possible that most of the adoring Republicans are "honest" people. The problem is that they assume that all the Republican politicians are going to be just as honst and forthright as they are. And, of course, many politicians on both sides will say what they have learned they have to say to get elected. The end always justifies the means, even if they are hypocritical, disingenuous, and liars.

The big problem with most liars is that they cannot believe anyone elswe might be telling the truth. Using that assumption, they never trust anyone outside their circle, and they can use that assumption to rationalize their lies and half-truths.

Most of the time, people of this sort will tell you the "truth" (or partial truth) that makes them look good, or, at least, doesn't make them look bad.

And there may be a lot of people, republicans, independents, and democrats that do the same thing. If most of us are usually telling partial truths so as to avoid conflict, how will we know the real and whole truth when we hear it? If we, the people, don't start telling the truth as we know it at this point in time, what is going to change.
+19 # Willman 2012-08-29 20:22
The American people need to see and hear Matt Taibbi interview Willard romoney for 1 hour on prime time TV and radio, prior to the election.
All the so called journalists that do get an audience with the dope pose softball questions so as to insure the continued advertising buys of the republicant"s.
+6 # mdhome 2012-08-30 08:50
Quoting Willman:
The American people need to see and hear Matt Taibbi interview Willard romoney for 1 hour on prime time TV and radio, prior to the election.
All the so called journalists that do get an audience with the dope pose softball questions so as to insure the continued advertising buys of the republicant"s.

I do believe you have hit on exactly the reason for the problem in your last sentence!
+19 # Eliza D 2012-08-29 21:20
Thank you Mr. Taibbi for a brilliant biography of the mature Romney and his relationship to Bain. This is a horror movie that makes the Scream movies look like a fairy tale. He and the company remind me of the parasitic wasp who injects her eggs into a living host which is then literally eaten alive by the larvae and dies a slow, agonizing death. If only more people would read you, we might have a chance of stopping this zombie dance Romney is forcing on American companies, and then, American citizens. I'll do my part in sharing this travesty of capitalism.
+11 # Working Class 2012-08-29 23:12
True, Matt Taibbi uses a lot of words to explain the necessary background needed to understand how these pirates in pinstripes work. I too share the concern that not very many people will take the time to read, least of all understand this matter. The Dems need to explain how Mitt and his ilk use the tax code to their advantage. Or emphasize that people only off-shore their money for one reason, to avoid their obligations to this country. Making Mitt a tax-dodger who sticks the rest of us to foot the bill of what it takes to run the country
+15 # tigerlille 2012-08-29 23:54
Excellent article that doesn't condescend to it's readers. I read the whole thing, and I have a very low tolerance for economic discussions. The essence of the article can be summed up very concisely. My question is, why isn't the Obama campagin crucifying Romney with their political ads? There is no spin in the world that can make the predatory, sociopathic 'capitalism' practiced by Romney/Bain do anything but stink to high heaven.

(BTW, my remarks are not partisan. I am hardly a fan of the Democrats.)
+15 # mikes1060 2012-08-30 01:23
Keep in mind that this appeared in Rolling Stone and is a feature-length piece of investigative journalism. Anybody remember that? This is something that is written for an intelligent, discerning and skeptical reader. Matt Taibbi has done his usual excellent job. If the typical Fox viewer won't read it (and they won't), it is up to us to do the "Cliff Notes" oral version in our intelligent and discerning minds and dispense it to our parents, kids, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. The old-fashioned way-- the way that Romney's Citizen's United billions can't--face to face, one on one.
+10 # namewon 2012-08-30 09:42
I have this wild hope that even without understanding the tortured twists and turns of financial logic that make it possible for people like Romney to thrive as legal Mafiosos, the American public possesses an intuitive sense of common decency that will see through this plastic man Romney (and the faux-intellect of his side-kick Ryan) and reject this attempted power grab for the Presidency. I only wish Obama would make the clear case for something substantively better! In any case, thank you Matt Taibbi for all your hard investigative work.
+4 # edwin_ 2012-08-30 15:20
when any company goes bankrupt , the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) as an independent agency of the United States government will provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits.

anothe case where Robmoney takes the $ and the taxpayers pay the bill
+2 # mikes1060 2012-08-31 06:09
[quote name="edwin_"]w hen any company goes bankrupt , "the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) as an independent agency of the United States government will provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits."

If you're lucky at .50c on the dollar! PBGC is not supposed to be another piece of corporate welfare for Mitt Romney and other Gordon Gecko wannabees..
+2 # BradFromSalem 2012-08-31 08:02
The guarantee only works if the Pension was was not diluted as being included as part of the collateral pledged to the banks when Bain takes over the target. In those instances, which is the most common, the banks collect full value first and the pensions may get nothing, since the company essentially voided them while the company was still solvent.

I may have some details wrong, and there are probably many flavors depending on various deal are structured, but Pensions are looked at by Bain as just another asset to raid.
+7 # Joe6pK 2012-08-30 16:29
Judas goat
It goes without saying I would never, even at 66 years of age try and tell a women what to do in the 21st century. Especially my mother of 93, my sister, or my better half. It is only those who think they’re still living in the 7th BC that do. And that is a simpleton definition of typical gop. Too bad we cannot hark back to an even earlier time when women cut-off men from sex until they ended their endless wars! As for those women who side with the gop I dare them to voluntarily give up their all rights and withdrawal from SSI, Medicare and the right to vote!
No not the Romney’s of the world, but the average redneck families that are doing these treasonable acts for money to keep the rights efforts to destroy the United States viable. And for the young and under- informed, I beg you to go on -line and read about the 1970 Corporate Raiders, the RomneyNaziGroup that tore to pieces our countries independence manufacturing capabilities and made us dependent on China!
Millions of lives and households were destroyed by the Bain-Romney types, retirements, insurance, homes all gone by a deliberate act of an so called American company, this same wanna-be president leader now seems to wants to be president so he can sell out the rest of our country, that is how this veteran sees this scumbag!
This guy is the devil reincarnated, he is the anti-Christ you crackheads have been waiting for! [Judas goat]
+5 # Wolfchen 2012-08-30 17:38
Quoting Joe6pK:
Judas goat
As for those women who side with the gop I dare them to voluntarily give up their all rights and withdrawal from SSI, Medicare and the right to vote!
[Judas goat] a spear thrust into the heart of the matter. Of course, the dim-witted don't see how they act like court jesters playing against their own self-interests. Like the fool who shouts before the TV cameras that all government programs must be destroyed, and that Obama better not take away her Medicare.

Who says the South lost the war...hell, their victory is their ability to spread their racist, bible-thumping ignorance throughout our nation!
+3 # Tamsin 2012-08-30 18:55
best article yet
+4 # Scott479 2012-08-30 19:15
I live in Pittsfield-Bain and Romney are common thieves.
+2 # Willman 2012-08-30 20:26
If this is TOOO long try the edited version put out by Willard RoMONEY.
+2 # cherylpetro 2012-08-31 00:22
Move over Bernie Madoff! Why aren't he and Romney sharing cells?
+1 # eldoryder 2012-08-31 06:05
There are parallels to this story. If everyone in America had read "Shrub" (the short happy political life of George W. Bush) by Molly Ivins, they would have seen that he was a complete business failure, bailed out by his Daddy and important Saudi benefactors in each business he ran to the ground.

Therefore, he would have most likely lost the first Presidential election (Florida manipulations nonwithstanding).

But much like the lack of dissmination of the book "Shrub", the key items of Matt's piece will NOT be read or repeated by the mainstream media, and people will vote for Romney simply because they are either disappointed by Obama, or are holding their conventional "Christian" noses to vote for a cultist Vulture capitalist who looks and sounds more like themselves.

Politics in real life here in the USA seems to have boiled down to a High School Popularity contest, and Romney will survive any real "fact-checking" to fool the voters into once again voting against their own best self-interest.

May God help us all.
-1 # 2wmcg2 2012-08-31 11:55
I knew Mitt Romney back then. Taibbi's characterizatio n is a distortion. George Romney was not filthy rich. American Motors was always on the verge of going under. George also had to deal with corporate raiders. I went to evening classes in welding with another Romney son to learn a practical skill in case we needed to support ourselves that way. There were lots of black people in the Detroit area - but what does this have to do with anything?

I had the good fortune to visit Mitt's mother in 1994 & have posted the story at
+1 # ilenewells 2012-08-31 13:53
Did he get a scholarship to that prep school? Seriously, I thought they were pretty rich by that time. His father was Governor by then, right? I think that is probably when he learned what money can buy...
+2 # C.H.Winslow 2012-08-31 22:40
Quoting 2wmcg2:
I knew Mitt Romney back then. Taibbi's characterization is a distortion. George Romney was not filthy rich. American Motors was always on the verge of going under. George also had to deal with corporate raiders. I went to evening classes in welding with another Romney son to learn a practical skill in case we needed to support ourselves that way. There were lots of black people in the Detroit area - but what does this have to do with anything?

I had the good fortune to visit Mitt's mother in 1994 & have posted the story at

Perhaps Taibbi's muckraking style does distort the man, but what about the deeds at Bain Capital, about the fact that bedouins like Romney, Ikah, Milkin, and Gekko (citizens of nowhere) have no stake in anything except what boosts a profit margin. Goats, unlike sheep, eat the grass, roots and all, competing and destroying their habitat.
+1 # ValerieATL 2012-08-31 15:07
Obviously a lot of hard work and serious thought went into this excellent article. Thank you!!!
I wish there was a way to get people, especially the 18-35 group, to ACTUALLY go out, register to vote, and then VOTE.
Maybe more of these kinds of articles will help.
+1 # ValerieATL 2012-08-31 15:19
Great line in this article about the Romney/Ryan ticket being, "self-righteous ly anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left."
Made me laugh.
0 # C.H.Winslow 2012-08-31 22:34
Quoting ValerieATL:
Great line in this article about the Romney/Ryan ticket being, "self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left."
Made me laugh.

Made me cry.
+3 # osopolar 2012-08-31 16:07
Great article (as articles - and books - by Matt Taibi tend to be! I've shared it, tweeted about it, discussed it, got into arguments over it, but that what good, factual and carefully researched, investigative journalism should do: get people motivated to act! Do Something, Thanks!
0 # djcl12960 2012-08-31 17:42
{Part 4]: Also, this is great fun, with music performed by Nick Jameson in support of president Obama:
Nick Jameson started taking piano lessons from Marjorie Paddock at age 5. Nick was already a lover of Beethoven and other greats. Soon Nick was locked away in his room for two years learning the double bass. He performed regularly at my nursery school on acoustic guitar as well as at other schools in the suburbs of Philadelphia from about age 11.
Nick Jameson has recorded 3 solo albums, was lead guitarist/vocal ist and singer songwriter of The American Dream (1968 to mid January 1971-http://www tch?v=Y4QCteOEl TI), has a huge catalogue of unreleased work - has been recording professionally since age 14 (Athens, Greece) - first release Philips records "I Cry"/Forget Today", and 4 more songs were released early 1966 in Greece.It's getting rather late for the Democratic Convention! David
Other YouTube links: Nick Jameson A Crowd Of One Nick Jameson, Already Free
0 # djcl12960 2012-08-31 17:44
[Part 3]:
Most recently Nick produced The Hooters Five by Five EP (2011). Nick has produced Tim Moore, Richie Havens, Foghat, Paul Butterfield's Better Days, Sparks, and many more.
Nick has been working in acting; /music/improv comedy (The Flying Fannoli Brothers), voice over, etc. for many years.

In the last few years or so Nick has written and recorded (also a recording engineer) a huge catalogue of great songs - yet to be released.

Nick was a member and producer of the hugely successful 70s British rock band Foghat and produced and engineered about a dozen of their albums as well as co-writing the hugely successful radio hit "Slow Ride" (featured in the sports in the Super bowl, TV show The Sopranos, and also movies) and produced and engineered the double platinum album Foghat Live.

Other fun links: Flying Fannoli Brothers YouTube - I will include a few here - there were about half a dozen released on YouTube in the last couple of months. ; ; ;
0 # djcl12960 2012-08-31 17:46
The 2nd solo album Nick Jameson released was way back in 1986 A Crowed Of One (on Motown Records) under the management of Johanan Vigoda (long-time Stevie Wonder manager).

Nick is a true expert in languages/diale cts. As an actor, Nick has since season 2 been featured as Russian President, Yuri Suvarov on probably currently the most successful USA television show, 24. He was 3 times as Australian psychic, Richard Malkin in LOST, and even fulfilled a life-long dream of being featured in Mad Magazine in the LOST parody! ... Us four brothers (I'm the youngest at 54, Nick the eldest at 61) would perform sketches from Mad Magazine in 1965 in Greece, where my father , Michael Jameson was lead archeologist of the ancient Greek city of Hallies (half the ancient city is under-water and still can be viewed by tourists), in Porto Cheli, on the Argolid peninsula.
There are few major USA TV shows that Nick has not acted in.
0 # djcl12960 2012-08-31 17:52
[In 4 Parts] Part1:
Please email Democratic National Convention Co-Chairman Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee at regarding the below email as soon as possible. We need to recognize the good things Obama has done and to Stop Romney/Ryan. We need to get the young vote out on election day ( Democrats, Republicans, and Independents for Obama) in order for Obama to be reelected. Thank you. ...Please check out this Nick Jameson song on YouTube video in regards to Barrack Obama's support for gay and lesbian marriage just released on YouTube several of weeks or so ago:
It would be a great shame not to have Nick Jameson involved in the re-election campaign of Barrack Obama.
Top comedian, multi-instrumen talist, singer/songwrit ers, international and domestic voice dialect and accent professionals, producer, director, under-rated artist, Democrat, and strong supporter of Barrack Obama, Nick Jameson, posted this pro gay/lesbian rights song regarding hatred towards gays (Nick wrote, produced, engineered and performed this amazing gospel song (as yet, un-released) and released it on YouTube as a celebration of President Obama coming out in support of gay and lesbian marriages.
0 # djcl12960 2012-08-31 18:02
One more link I forgot
+3 # dajorie 2012-08-31 18:43
LBO's, especially the hostile type, are vehicles of corruption enabled by the mother-nest of all things corrupt - the campaign finance system. A simple indication of the LBO's illegitimacy is the fact that the risk is totally disproportionat e to the reward, sort of like the Mafia's protection racket. The Democrats would be well advised to pepper us with examples of families and communities the have been economically devastated by Bain Capital.
+2 # C.H.Winslow 2012-08-31 22:19
I read the Taibbi article in Rolling Stone this morning. Tayyib, Matt, tayyib jiddan. It is seldom that a journalist provides readers with analysis that goes beyond facts + interpretation + opinion. He has done so with his statement that the new contest is between people who reside somewhere (and have a stake in what they are attached to) and people who reside nowhere (and only have a stake in scraping up value and moving on). This is the bedouin ethos operating in a global arena with a global economy but with no global political system. The tribes still roam.
+3 # C.H.Winslow 2012-08-31 22:32
dajorie is on the mark here. Economic power is able to purchase political power. It can even persuade people to vote for the very financiers who do them harm. Perhaps the Democrats can raise popular awareness enough to defeat some of the most dangerous Republicans, but then what? Democrat officeholders have to kow-tow to money, too. Will they vote against an arrangement that puts them in power? Even those who would do so don't have the votes. Perhaps only system breakdown will mobilize the power to bring about genuine change.
+2 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-09-01 14:23
Matt Taibbi, you are amazing ! Thank you for your great investigating and diagnosis.

I confess, you've gotten me to put on my old journalist (with major in advertising) hat, and now I'm in translate this vital info. into 'get folks understanding what this means' mode.

romney = raw money is B(v)ain
+1 # dmgg711 2012-09-02 03:01
I so enjoyed your article because it was concise, informative, and comprehensible. You don’t need a PhD or dictionary to look up word definitions so it was easy reading.

I find your article complete in describing Romney and Bain’s connection and it has helped me to understand Romney’s hesitancy in giving out too much information into his business and private life. If he would have been running for the presidency there wouldn’t have been someone like you delving into the life he really lives in and not the “I know how to create jobs”....not! For being a Bishop of Latter Day Saints I wonder if he ever cringes with every lie he tells about President Obama.

Now I have an article I can pick through whenever I need some facts concerning Willard Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.
Thank you, thank up. thank you.
+1 # stonecutter 2012-09-02 12:56
The debates will determine the whole enchilada. Just as they did 50 years ago between JFK and Tricky Dick. That election was won by less than 215,000 votes around the whole nation; this one's also gonna be very, very close, but they didn't have voter ID in 1960! It boils down to registration and getting out the vote. A nail-biter.
+1 # djcl12960 2012-09-03 01:55
A very fine article by Matt Taibbi. I'm not in denial of any "negative" things Matt says about Obama, or even (to an extent)the very negative things said by writer/journali st Chris Hedges. But Romney/Ryan are more like Armageddonists and must be stopped. Apologies for not including Matt's article in my above blogs.
0 # BoyFromOz 2012-09-19 09:05
Wow... a really interesting and well constructed read.

I should say, I'm from Australia so I don't get to vote in the US election and I don't know the ins & outs of US tax and other law.

On a human level, the sad stories about towns being eviscerated, lives being uprooted and people being thrown aside is heart-wrenching and terribly sad.

The combination of tax-relief for massive debt and the ability to shunt that debt into different entities certainly seems to create adverse incentives (to put it politely).

But here's my question... in the context of rising Chinese production, Indian off-shoring and other global forces, what was the prognosis for those companies really?

Is there a reason why the Walmarts appeared like space-ships and replaced the corner store? It seems from afar that the consumers rushed to buy all those low price goods, presumably even the imported ones that were directly threatening their own livelihood.

So please don't accuse me of condoning this, I don't know enough (even after reading Matt's whole article) to presume to do that. I just wonder why the takeover targets were "distressed assets" in the first place and if Bain's intervention merely hastened their decline... as opposed to being the proximate (and easy to identify and vilify) cause.
0 # laserdliquidator 2013-09-11 19:02
I've got the real goods on Mitt Romney and I need someone who can write - and is not connected to the case.

Please advise?

Laser dot haas at yahoo

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