ABC News Debate Ignores Mitt Romney’s Admission That His Bain Jobs Claim Is Bunk


At Saturday night’s ABC News/WMUR Republican presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, moderator George Stephanopoulos began to press former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on his claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain Capital, but after extracting a major admission from Romney about a glaring flaw in that calculation, Stephanopoulos mysteriously ignored it completely.

After asking Newt Gingrich about a new short film attacking Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, Stephanopoulos asked Gov. Romney to respond. Among other things, Romney said he was “proud of the fact that the two enterprises I led were quite successful,” and that “in the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs.”

“Now, there have been questions about that — that — that calculation of a hundred thousand jobs,” Stephanopoulos said. “I’ve read some analysts who look at it and say that you’re counting the jobs that were created but not counting the jobs that were taken away. Is that accurate?”

“No, it’s not accurate,” Romney replied. “It includes the net of both. I’m a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that.”

That’s not true, according to his campaign, but we’ll come back to that.

Stephanopoulos pointed out, “But that includes jobs that were created even after you left, right?”

“Oh, yes. Oh, yes,” Romney replied. ” Those — those are businesses we started that continue to grow.”

Here’s the clip, from ABC News:

For some reason, after exposing part of the recipe for Romney’s cooked jobs claim, Stephanopoulos just dropped the whole thing. The fact is, Romney’s claims about Bain are a cheat from both ends. Not only is he taking credit for jobs that were added long after Romney’s involvement, he’s also cherry-picking the top three examples and ignoring the “over 100 different businesses” that Bain raided under his tenure.

That’s according to Romney’s campaign, who told The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler that “the 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (7,900 jobs).” (This is good reporting by Kessler, but lousy “fact-checking,” ratings-wise; he inexplicably rates the completely useless jobs claim at 1, out of a possible 4, “Pinocchios,” and has a history of such generosity toward Romney.)

By all accounts, arriving at a net jobs figure for Romney’s tenure at Bain is impossible, and while that unknowable number is somewhat relevant, the real point is that people’s jobs are incidental to Bain’s mission. Indeed, the firm’s modus operandi, buying companies and extracting maximum short-term profit by cutting costs (i.e. layoffs), then selling them before they either collapse or are fixed by the next guy, tends to encourage job losses, not gains. It’s possible that even when Bain acquisitions gained jobs, those companies would have gained more jobs, had Bain left them alone.

Mitt Romney’s pitch is that his skill as a businessman qualifies him to fix our economy, but his real skill is creating wealth for people who are already wealthy (like Mitt Romney and Friends). We already live in that America, and have for a long time.

For a different look at Romney’s time at Bain, check out this segment of Up With Chris Hayes, in which, among other things, author Josh Kosman points out that “during (Romne’ys) time (at Bain), the ten biggest investments, five went bankrupt, yet Bain did very well.”

He goes on to tell the story behind the numbers of such Bain “success” stories as Domino’s Pizza, which had to revive itself with an unprecedented “sorry our pizza was so shitty” campaign, and Sealy Mattresses, whose cost-cutting led to huge profits for Bain, but also kneecapped their long-term ability to compete.

What so-called “pro-business” Republicans who worship the Mitt Romneys of the world fail to realize is that a strong economy rests on three pillars: businesses, workers, and consumers. Romney, and Bain,  bloat the first pillar by eating huge chunks out of the latter two, then run to those same people (in the form of the federal government) to dig them out when the roof collapses.

Here’s the segment, from MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes:

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