In my opinion, this is the main reason we must not vote for Romney: He has assembled the same
team of neoconservatives (neocons) who plotted to attack Iraq on false premises,
and they are now plotting to attack Iran on the same false premises. Their names and
intentions will be revealed below, after I have pointed out some of the
truly odd goings-on
at the recent commencement party of "America's Comeback Team" ...
Battleships and Freudian Slips
When Mitt Romney revealed that his running mate would be Paul Ryan,
the announcement was made in front of a battleship. When Ryan emerged from the
USS Wisconsin, the music being played was from the movie Air Force One.
Was this a signal to allies and enemies of the U.S. that the neocons who
launched the invasion of Iraq are still firmly in control of
the GOP, and now stand ready to use the
immensely powerful American navy and air force to attack Iran
and any other Middle Eastern nations that refuse to submit to U.S. and Israeli
tyranny? (No doubt Bibi Netanyahu and other Israeli neocons were just as "deeply
excited" as Paul Ryan to see this impressive show of power.)
Like Rachel Maddow, I
object to two
men who chose not to serve in the military running down from the battleship to the
podium, laughing and waving. I was reminded of Michael Dukakis playing tank
commander and George W. Bush using a jet dubbed Navy One
to land on the USS Abraham Lincoln (after he had allegedly played truant from the Texas Air National Guard
unit that helped keep him from seeing duty
It was hopefully a good omen that the Wisconsin is a decommissioned WWII-vintage
battleship, currently in mothballs. Perhaps this is a sign that Romney's
campaign will be shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
"Join me," Romney instructed the crowd, "in welcoming the next president of the
United States, Paul Ryan!"
Was this a mistake, or a Freudian slip? (I suspect the latter.)
The ever-dapper, always-wooden
Romney stood at the microphone sans jacket, wearing a light blue tie. Ryan wore a
billowing, cloak-like black
jacket that made him look like a Jedi gone over to the dark side, or perhaps a KGB agent in a
Cold War film noir. Did they dress this way as a signal that Ryan is the more
serious, capable and formidable leader, just as Dick Cheney was a far more
serious, capable and formidable leader than George W. Bush? In any case, Ryan
looked a bit spook-y to me, please pardon the pun.
As Ryan was marveling—"Wow! Hey! Man!"—that he was standing in the shadow of the
mighty (if completely obsolete) Wisconsin, a distant, distraught voice could be heard—"Hold
on! Hold on!"
It was Romney, returning to the stage to renounce his claim that Ryan would be
the next president. (Whew, that was a close call!)
Romney probably came close to giving Ryan a heart attack when he interrupted
his speech with: "Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake." For a
few painful seconds, a puzzled-looking Ryan must have felt like Bain Capital
worker being informed that his job had just been outsourced to China. Romney at
least had the wits to recover somewhat, with: "I did not make a mistake
with this guy. But I can tell you this, he's gonna be the next vice-president of
the United States." Romney sounded more hopeful than confident (as when he talks
about his tax returns).
The marriage made in political heaven seemed to have
suddenly hit the honeymoon rocks. And this was before elderly people in Florida
began protesting what Romney and Ryan propose to do to Medicare, forcing Romney
to cancel a speaking engagement in Orlando, presumably to regroup and think of
new lies (euphemistically called "campaign promises"). In any case, Romney and
Ryan will not be going to the Magic Kingdom anytime soon, except perhaps in
their highly irrational dreams that they are the "saviors" of the "American
way." Since when is it the American way to wage war after illegal war, while
sending our children, parents and grandparents to the poorhouse? Only since the
madness of King George—George W. Bush—has fighting
unwinnable wars while the nation goes bankrupt been a national goal. Before, it
was something we tried to avoid, not always successfully. But the battleship and
triumphant strains of martial music seem to clearly indicate that Romney and
Ryan are ready, willing and able to go to war (as long as they and their
children don't have to risk their lives, and their super-rich patrons don't have
to risk any of their money, which explains why Medicare must be gutted while the
poor and middle classes shoulder even more of the tax loads and war debts).
"He’s never been content to simply curse the darkness," Romney said of Ryan
"He’d rather light candles."
This seemed to be a reference to Eleanor Roosevelt, who once said that it's
better to light a candle than curse the darkness. But she was ahead of her time
in demanding equal rights for everyone. Paul Ryan is no Eleanor Roosevelt, as he
seems intent on denying fully equal rights to gays and, like many Republicans, also seems determined to return women's
reproductive rights to the Dark Ages. To date, Ryan
is best known as the author of a budget plan so radical The New York Times
called it "the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern
times." Newt Gingrich dismissed it as "radical" and "right-wing social engineering." Ryan's budget would end Medicare as we know it and transfer huge sums of money
to the super-rich by slashing their taxes—yet again!—while
raising taxes for the middle class.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center's number-crunching indicates that Ryan's plan
would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade, resulting in
2020 deficit of roughly $1.3 trillion. Ryan may talk about the deficit in
"apocalyptic terms," which is easy enough to do, but his "Roadmap" would
actually increase it. The TPC estimates that Ryan's plan
would slash taxes on the richest 1% in half, giving them 117% of the plan’s total
tax cuts! But taxes would go up for 95% of the
population. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that elderly Americans
would pay $6,400 more for healthcare by 2022. According to a New York Times
editorial, "The Romney-Ryan Plan for America," the Ryan budget plan has other
serious flaws: "Even less familiar to voters are Mr. Ryan’s plans for the rest
of the federal budget, which if anything are worse than his Medicare proposal.
By cutting $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, he would
eliminate or slash so many programs that the federal government would be
unrecognizable. That has long been a goal of the Tea Party ideologues who
support Mr. Ryan fervently, but it is not one shared by anywhere near a majority
Please excuse me for not applauding!
Romney called the 42-year-old policy wonk the Republican Party's
"intellectual leader." Was this another signal? Like George W. Bush, Romney is no deep thinker, but merely
"presidential." As the book Angler makes clear, Bush was way over his
head on complex issues, so Cheney ended up running the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq. Did the Republican party's money men inform Romney that the only way he's
going to get elected is by promising to defer to Ryan on complex issues, hence
the slip of the tongue? Did the neocons instruct Romney to stage the
announcement in front of a battleship, to the strains of the music of Air
Force One, as a way of communicating to various world leaders that the real
commander in chief will be Ryan, not Romney?
Of course I have no way of knowing such things, and thus can only speculate. But
it hardly matters who leads, since Romney and Ryan share the same nefarious
goals. Ryan is the architect of the Republican master plan to boost U.S.
military spending to $8 trillion dollars over the next decade, even if it
bankrupts the nation. Romney has been even more hawkish on military spending,
always a neocon priority. His plan is to spend a minimum of 4% of GDP on the
Pentagon. That would increase an already-bloated military budget by more than
$200 billion in 2016, a 38% hike over President Obama’s budget, according to the
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Romney’s proposal to embark on a second
straight decade of escalating military spending would be the first time in
American history that war preparation and defense spending had increased as a
share of overall economic activity for such an extended period,” wrote Merrill
Goozner in the Fiscal Times. “When coupled with the 20% cut in taxes he
promises, it would require shrinking domestic spending to levels not seen since
the Great Depression—before programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
began.” Such cuts, Goozner noted, “would likely throw the U.S. economy back into
Why do Romney and the neocons want to spend so much money on the military? The main goal of the
neocons (emphasis on "cons") is the establishment of an "American Century"
(think "thousand year Reich") via U.S. domination of the globe through massive
military superiority, which of course means massive military spending. If you doubt me, you can
easily confirm that Romney subscribes to
the philosophy of Hitler and the Nazis by the number of times he has voiced the same
Romney's goofy idea that American "exceptionalism" gives the U.S. the right to
establish a global "American Century" in which it dominates all other nations is essentially the same as Hitler's goofy idea that Aryan "exceptionalism"
gave Germany the right to establish a thousand year reign in which Germany would
dominate all other nations.
When Romney starts ranting about the "American Century" and how he is the
person who can make it happen (as in the remarks below from a speech he made at
the Citadel), he sounds suspiciously like Hitler:
I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century
must be an
In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads
the entire world.
God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.
I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the
America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers.
America must lead the world, or someone else will.
If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take
The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic.
Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post and keep guard of the
freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends.
The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to
influence events before they erupt into conflict.
While America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act
alone to protect our vital national interests.
As president of the United States, I will devote
myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America.
I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of
America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.
It is only American power—conceived in the broadest terms—that can
provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and
prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies around the world.
Romney is clearly saying what Hitler and the Nazis once said: that because of
their conviction and passion about German/American
exceptionalism, Germany/America must fulfill its duty and
destiny to lead the world, using superior military power preemptively
to take out any perceived threats to German/American hegemony. Thus Germany
could preemptively attack Poland and Czechoslovakia, even though they posed no
immediate danger to Germany. Thus, the US can attack North Vietnam, Afghanistan,
Iraq and (soon) Iran.
This "family resemblance" should not surprise anyone, because Hitler was a
fascist, and American neocons are also fascists. Fascist believe that might
makes right, so if a nation has superior firepower, it has the
automatic "right" to dominate other nations, or destroy them if they
refuse to submit. German and American fascists have the same
beliefs and the same cold-blooded, calculating methods. Here are some rather
the American century = the thousand-year Reich
American exceptionalism = Deutschland uber alles (Germany over all)
"dangerous" Muslims = "dangerous" Jews
Iraq = Poland
Iran = Czechoslovakia
History really does seem to repeat itself, and Romney strikes
me as a
slightly spruced-up, slicked-down version of Hitler. But I digress ...
Here is Ari Berman's analysis of Romney's Citadel speech: "The cornerstone of
Romney’s speech was a gauzy defense of American exceptionalism, a theme the
candidate adopted from [Romney adviser] Robert Kagan. The speech and
[corresponding] white paper were long on distortions—claiming that Obama
believed 'there is nothing unique about the United States' and 'issued apologies
for America' abroad—and short on policy proposals. The few substantive ideas
were costly and bellicose: increasing the number of warships the Navy builds per
year from nine to fifteen (five more than the service requested in its 2012
budget), boosting the size of the military by 100,000 troops, placing a missile
defense system in Europe and stationing two aircraft carriers near Iran. 'What
he articulated in the Citadel speech was one of the most inchoate, disorganized,
cliché-filled foreign policy speeches that any serious candidate has ever
given,' says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation."
I agree with Daniel Larison, who wrote for American Conservative: "At times,
Romney’s speech sounded like a technocrat’s brief for divinely-ordained U.S.
hegemony: 'God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America
is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America
must lead the world, or someone else will.' It seems presumptuous at best to
claim knowledge of God’s foreign policy preferences, but the most misleading
statement here is that another state will assume the role of a global hegemony
if the U.S. does not fill it. There is no one state or group of states aspiring
to the international role that the U.S. currently has, and no other is capable
of filling that role if it wished. Probably the most remarkable thing in the
speech was how little [respect] Romney paid to the other major powers in the
world. He poses some questions about future scenarios in the beginning of the
speech, but he never answers any of them. Today’s speech lifted quite a few
arguments that Romney had already made two years ago in a speech at
the Heritage Foundation. The main difference is that the “nations or groups of
nations” he identified as the main international threats back then have now
become threatening “forces.” There’s nothing the matter with recycling his own
material, but it is still bad material."
American neocons like Romney want the U.S. to dominate the globe. All they need to
implement their dark designs is a malleable, witless figurehead like George W.
Bush or Willard M. Romney, a clever Vice President to act a a conduit (and
perhaps replace the president if he gets out of line), and highly-placed
advisers to make sure the war games proceed according to plan. Now the neocons have
reassembled the old team, with Romney replacing Bush and Ryan replacing Cheney
(although Cheney remains busy in the background, waddling around, constantly doing evil, like his
alter ego the Penguin).
Romney and Ryan are calling themselves "America's Comeback Team." I think
it would be more accurate to call them "America's Throwback Team."
After all, they're clearly trying to return us to the kind of thinking that led
to the Vietnam War.
As Vice President Joe Biden said recently in a major foreign policy speech,
Romney and his chief advisers “see the world through a cold war prism that is
totally out of touch with the realities of the twenty-first century.” We won the
Cold War and Russia is no longer a major threat to our security, if it ever was.
Neither Russia, China nor Iran are going to attack the U.S., unless they are
attacked first. And there lies the greatest danger to the U.S., because the
neocons are radical ideologues who fully intend to go on the offensive, following
the dangerous philosophy of "preemptive retaliation."
Neo-con Hall of Shame
As quoted in Foreign Policy, Rep. Adam Smith pointed out that of
"Romney’s 24 special advisors on foreign policy, 17 served in the Bush-Cheney
According to an article by Ari Berman in The Nation, "a comprehensive
review of [Romney's] statements during the primary and his choice of advisers
suggests a return to the hawkish, unilateral interventionism of the George W.
Bush administration should he win the White House in November."
And Romney's advisors seem to confirm such suspicions.
According to an article in The Fiscal Times, Romney advisor Richard
Williamson said that a Romney presidency would offer
a "more aggressive" approach toward China, Russia and the Middle East. "I think
our biggest single difference [with the Obama administration] is probably over Iran," Williamson said. "Put it
this way: If I was the regime in Tehran I'd be much more worried about dealing
with a Romney administration than with the current administration."
According to The New American, "Neoconservative domination of the Romney
campaign's foreign policy advisors also caught
the attention of U.S. News & World Report back in April, and the group was labeled a
'Neocon War Cabinet' by the leftist magazine The Nation in May. In
addition, former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell told MSNBC
in May that Romney's advisors were 'quite far to the right,' implying they were
too interventionist for his taste."
Among Romney's advisors listed by reputable news services like the Wall
Street Journal, The Nation and the New American are such notable neocons,
hawks and warmongers as:
Henry Kissinger: Nixon's Secretary of State
and a primary author of the Vietnam War on the false premises of the "Domino
Cofer Black: former CIA director, former vice president of Blackwater
International and a vocal advocate of "enhanced interrogation techniques"
Michael Hayden: former NSA director who created the Bush administration's
warrantless wiretapping programs
George Shultz: father of the "Bush Doctrine" of preemptive retaliation
Eliot Cohen: Bush State Department counselor and a co-founder of the Project for a
New American Century, a neocon think tank
Robert Kagan: foreign policy commentator and a co-founder of the Project for a
New American Century
Richard Williamson: Bush Assistant Secretary of State and a hawkish Republican
foreign policy specialist
Paula Dobriansky: Bush State Department official and a leading advocate of
Bush’s ill-fated "freedom agenda"
John Bolton: Bush's former UN ambassador and a leading advocate of an Israeli
attack on Iran
John Lehman: Reagan's Secretary of the Navy and a noted war hawk
Michael Chertoff: Bush's Homeland Security Secretary
Dan Senor: a right-wing pundit and apologist for the "successes" of the Iraq war;
he says “Mitt-Bibi will be the new Reagan-Thatcher”
Eric Edelman: Bush Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; he supports an attack
on Iran (like 12 other Romney advisors)
Robert Joseph: NSC official who inserted the “16 words” in Bush’s 2003 State of
the Union speech claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium
Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says,
“Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign
policy if he were elected ... I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy
adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake. Two-thirds of the American
people do believe the Iraq War was a mistake. So he has willingly chosen to
align himself with that one-third of the population right out of the gate.” On
certain key issues, like Iran, Romney and his neocon
advisors are to the right of Bush. Here's an example of why having such
hawkish advisors is so dangerous; some of them still want to fight the Cold War:
[Russia] is without question our number one geopolitical foe.—Mitt Romney
Romney was immediately rebuked by everybody with a brain.
David C. Speedie, senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in
International Affairs, called Romney's statement "palpably ridiculous."
Colin Powell said: "Well, c’mon, Mitt; think! That isn’t
Senator John Kerry called the comment "naive."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was unimpressed, telling reporters that
Romney's remark seemed like a throwback to the Cold War era and "smacked of
Lawrence J. Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, agreed with
Medvedev, saying: "Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has not
faced an existential threat, nor does it have any 'number one' geopolitical or
nation state foes ... The rhetoric of geopolitical foes should be retired as a
relic of the Cold War while the U.S. develops policies to deal with its short-
and long-term challenges."
In a poll of foreign policy specialists taken by the L. A. Times, not a single expert named
Russia as our "number one geopolitical foe." Two named Iran, two said "nobody"
and two suggested that the U.S. may be its own worst enemy (perhaps because of
politicians like Romney?). Hell, most average Americans know that other nations
pose more problems for the United States today, than Russia does.
Furthermore, Romney's barrage of misstatements and comments taken as insults by
our allies in Great Britain, Israel, Palestine and Poland on his first foray
into international politics demonstrate how ill-informed Romney is about foreign
policy matters, and how tone deaf he is to other people's concerns, aspirations
and feelings. If he surrounds himself with hawks still
intent on fighting the Cold War, we could miss out of the
dividends of peace and go bankrupt fighting needless, unwinnable battles.
Why Floridians are not Amused
Even as the ink was still drying on the Romney-Ryan
political marriage license, signs of ruptures within the larger Republican
family began to appear.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, one of Romney's first decisions
after the bizarre nuptials was to cancel a scheduled speaking engagement in
Orlando. Why? Perhaps because the headlines of major Floridian newspapers had
almost unanimously questioned Romney's selection of Ryan and what it meant for
Floridians. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Romney was "too
exhausted to make the trip."
Does this perhaps mean that Romney was exhausted of ideas, seeing how very
difficult it was going to be to persuade Americans to vote for his plan to feed
the neo-con war machine, by depriving elderly people of Medicare and raising
taxes for 99% of Americans, while further reducing the taxes of the 1%?
Could Romney's "exhaustion" be the result of finally realizing that, while he
can fool some of the people all of the time, the majority have grown wise to his
shell games and bad parlor tricks with the truth?
Florida has a large number of retirees who are not amused by Ryan's preposterous
"budget plan." The only people who see anything to like in Ryan's plan are
young, incredibly naive Tea Party ideologues who are too short-sighted to
realize that unless they are fabulously wealthy like Romney and his rich
cronies, they and their loved ones will also need the things they currently
denounce as "entitlements" one day: Medicare, Social Security, and perhaps
Medicaid if they become unable to work (which does happen to millions of
In other words, the average Florida retiree is much better able to access the
real impact of the Romney-Ryan plan, than the typical Tea Party type.
Romney is probably "exhausted" because the latest polls are reflecting the fact
that his pro-rich, pro-war stance, when coupled with his anti-women,
anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-elderly, anti-sick stance, is going to make it
difficult if not impossible for him to win the upcoming election. To him, that
is of course a very bad thing, but would it have been a "bad thing" for the
average German if Hitler had lost elections?
Romney was not too "exhausted" to keep a fundraiser in Miami on his schedule.
But of course at a fundraiser where rich people pay big bucks to hobnob with
Romney, he is unlikely to have to explain why the common folk increasingly hate
him and his all-too-obvious plans for their demise.
Of course rich people love Romney, because he is trying to further reduce their
taxes, while shifting war expenses and war debt over to the 99%. But
unfortunately for Romney and his rich patrons, thanks to people like them most
Americans are worse off financially than they were when George W. Bush became
president and started cutting taxes for the rich while invading Middle Eastern
nations that were bound to see American troops as foreign conquerors. Since we
live in a democracy, it should be hard for 1% of the people to dictate terms to
the other 99%.
Did Romney "save" the Olympics, really?
''In fact, most of the federal money was already in place
before Mitt came on,'' said Senator Bob Bennett, who served as point man for the
federal funding. ''The Clinton administration was completely supportive in
saying these are America's games, we will do whatever we can to make sure they
are successful. The one concern I had was whether we would get the same degree
of support from the Bush administration, which we did.''
David Wallechinsky, a commentator for NBC's Olympic coverage and the author of
several Olympic reference books, said that Romney played an important role in
budget and public relations. But beyond that, "his
involvement is greatly exaggerated."
Wallechinsky also told The Huffington Post: "A lot of people could have stepped
in and made it work. Not to say he did anything wrong. He did what he had to do.
What he did was fine. The way he portrays it, however, is absurd ... The Olympic
movement had survived two world wars, a terrorist attack, and boycotts. It could
have survived a bribery scandal."
According to a Daily Kos article, Romney may have breached his contract with
the Olympic Committee by not severing all ties with Bain Capital:
"AP news items from the time, written by Kristen Moulton, also include specific
details about ethics and anti-scandal restrictions placed on the new CEO, Mitt
Romney. He would have to sever ties with all corporations that did business
with the Olympics. This same AP piece is found in the archives of the Laredo
Morning Times and the Hurriyet
But as the article goes on to point out, Romney remained directly
or indirectly involved with a number of companies
that either invested in or profited from the Olympics, including companies
bought by Bain, and/or for whom Romney served on the board of directors.
Companies named in the article include Staples, Gateway, Marriott, Sealy and
According to Romney, he left Bain Capital in February of 1999 and had "no role
whatsoever in the management of Bain Capital" thereafter. Romney has made this
assertion repeatedly and it also appears on the financial disclosure
Romney filed when he formally applied to run for president. If there is
anything definite that we know about Romney, it is that he "left" Bain Capital
in 1999 and had "absolutely nothing" to do with running the company thereafter.
But according to a number of documents that Bain and its subsidiaries filed with
the SEC, Romney remained in control of Bain and its subsidiaries long
after he "left." Romney was named at least 39 times in SEC filings as
shareholder and chief executive of Bain funds used in corporate takeovers and
other investment deals, according to the AP and Fox News.
Why is the year 1999 so important to Romney? Because when the Washington Post published an
article headlined "Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas," the Romney
campaign was caught flatfooted. The Post disclosed that Bain had invested in
companies like Modus Media, Stream International, Hi-Tech Manufacturing, SMTC
and Holson Burnes, that had not only shipped thousands of American jobs overseas, but had
helped pioneer the practice. It seems clear that
Romney does not want to be connected to such pioneering, hence the
since-disproven claims that he had "absolutely nothing" to do with Bain after
To make matters worse, Romney even invested money in a Chinese company,
Global-Tech Appliances, that specializes in taking over manufacturing from
American companies like Sunbeam and Revlon. Part of Romney's GTA holdings ended
up in Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors LTD, a Bermuda-based corporation that
lists Romney as "the sole shareholder, a director,
and President." According to an AP report, Sankaty is "is among several
Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed" and there is a "mystery
surrounding" Sankaty. Vanity Fair noted that "investments in tax havens
such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in 'jurisdictions where
there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,' as one Miami-based
offshore lawyer put it." Another mystery is why
Romney was using a Bermuda-based entity to invest in a Chinese firm
that specialized in outsourcing American manufacturing jobs.
Bain first invested in GTA in 1998, before Romney "left" the firm in 1999, so it
seems clear that Romney was deliberately investing in and profiting from
outsourcing long before anyone else "took over," if that ever actually happened.
As reported by The Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post:
nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, the private
equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the
practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components,
according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. While Bain was
not the largest player in the outsourcing field, the private equity firm was
involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States
was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to
this outflow of employment."
A CBS Evening News report confirms that there are accusations that
"Mitt Romney's companies were pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low-wage
countries." Now, if such accusations are false, all Romney and Bain have to do
is provide hard evidence to the contrary. All companies with payrolls keep
detailed records of hirings and firings, so why have Romney and Bain failed to
provide any hard evidence of net job increases? Obviously, because there
isn't any such evidence. In reality, Romney and Bain fired
thousands of American workers and outsourced many other jobs to foreign countries,
while Romney became one of the world's wealthiest men by sheltering most or all
of his Bain wealth from taxes in offshore Bermuda and Cayman Island "IRAs."
And the claims that Romney had "no involvement" with Bain after early 1999 seem
more than shaky ...
James Cox, a professor of corporate and securities law at Duke University, has
pointed out that Bain’s continued reference to Romney as CEO and sole
shareholder indicate that Romney remained the "final authority" and
that Romney would likely have been updated regularly about Bain’s profits
while negotiating his severance package. Thus, according to Cox, Romney’s
insistence that he had no involvement with “any Bain Capital entity” appears
“inconsistent” with his actions.
According to Stephanie Cutter, Romney was "either misrepresenting his own
position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his
position at Bain to the American people."
According to the Boston Globe, which was able to interview Bain
insiders, "Romney has said in financial disclosure statements that he 'was not
involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way' after Feb. 11,
1999. But he was still legally the CEO, with numerous duties and obligations
that were his alone, until early 2002. Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s
former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not
merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company
documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain’s
investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large
severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm’s future without him,
according to his former associates. Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole
shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his
generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates. 'The
elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions
but Mitt’s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract
a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,' said one
former associate, who, like some other Romney associates, spoke only on
condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the
Romney continued to refer to himself as CEO. In July 1999, five months after he
had "left" Bain, he provided a blurb for a press release issued by Rehnert and
Wolpow, in which he was referred to as “Bain Capital CEO W. Mitt Romney,
currently on a part-time leave of absence.” In the release, Romney said of
departing Bain partners, “While we will miss them, we wish them well and look
forward to working with them as they build their firm.” So Romney obviously
still considered himself a part of Bain and its future. Romney’s name continued
to appear as CEO and owner on dozens of Bain fund documents filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission until January 2002.
So it seems Romney was truthful with the SEC, but lied repeatedly to the
American people ... and is still lying, even though he's been caught red-handed.
Swimming with the Sharks
Corporations are people, my friend ... of course they are ... human beings, my
But as we all know, some corporations are more like cold-blooded sharks than warm-blooded
human beings ... especially private equity firms like Mitt Romney's rapacious team of
orca-like corporate raiders, Bain Capital.
Under Romney's direction, Bain loaded
companies like GST Steel and Dade International with massive debt in
order to pay Romney and other investors massive dividends, while the companies went
bankrupt and their workers became jobless. Now Romney, the consummate slick
pro-corporation politician, has raised large sums of campaign cash from Wall Street firms like
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley because they know he'll scratch their backs by
letting them do what he did himself: profit from the elimination and outsourcing
of American jobs. Romney insists that "corporations are people"
and has called federal government spending to assist tornado and flood victims "simply immoral" because it increases the national budget deficit. But when has he
ever called government borrowing to fund wars and Wall Street bailouts "immoral"? Romney knows where his bread is
buttered, and who provides the rich cream. Like most Republican politicians
these days, he seems quite happy to let the commoners go without bread, as
long as his wealthy patrons and cronies can continue to have their cake and eat
In his book The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and
Killing the American Economy, Josh Kosman describes Bain as
"notorious for its failure to plow profits back into its businesses."
Bain was the first large private equity firm to derive a large percentage
of its revenues from corporate dividends and other investor-gratifying distributions. Companies
acquired by Bain sometimes borrowed large sums of money in order to increase their dividend
payments, ultimately leading to the collapse of what had been financially stable
businesses. According to Bloomberg, "Whether companies boomed or filed
for bankruptcy, the Boston-based firm found profits for Romney, its other
executives and investors ... Interviews with former employees and executives at
Bain and companies it controlled, along with a review of Bain’s activities
described in public documents and news accounts, paint a picture of an operation
that wasn’t focused on expanding employment. Instead, Bain’s mission, like [that
private equity firms, was to generate gains for its investors."
Dade International is a good example. Dade was combined by Bain with several
other companies, becoming Dade Behring. At least 1,600 employees were dismissed
from 1996 to 1999, according to SEC reports. Bain and Goldman Sachs sold
their Dade shares for $365.4 million, in addition to prior dividends and
other distributions, before the company went bankrupt.
According to Michael Rumbin, Dade's vice president of technology, "They
leveraged this thing to the hilt and got out when they could. We were left
holding the bag." Rumbin became one of Romney's and Bain's casualties when he too
lost his job. Now we know why private equity firms are better known as "corporate
Like a reverse Robin Hood, Mitt Romney stole jobs from the poor to give
dividends to the rich. Now he seems intent on sending
American citizens to the poorhouse, en masse. He recently earned the sobriquet "Romney Hood" after the non-partisan
Tax Policy Institute reported that Romney's tax proposals are likely to result
in a net tax increase of $2,000 for middle-class wage earners while reducing the
taxes of the wealthiest Americans by hundreds of thousands of dollars, each.
Mr. "Free Stuff"
Mitt Romney is a hypocrite who accuses ordinary Americans of wanting
"free stuff" if they request affordable healthcare, even though it
seems he may have paid
virtually no taxes for years, despite being one of the
world's wealthiest men.
Why does Romney castigate ordinary Joes and Janes, if he evaded millions in taxes
himself, while supporting trillion-dollar bailouts for his super-rich
Wall Street cronies?
Does Romney believe in American exceptionalism, or just his own "exceptions" ...
as in unpaid income taxes? If Romney really believes in American exceptionalism, why
did he stash
so much of his fortune in Swiss bank accounts and
what appear to be Bermuda and Cayman Island shell corporations? He drives
American-made cars, so why does he trust so much of his immense wealth to
obscure banks, on tiny insecure islands? Why did a fabulously rich
man like Romney choose the Yugo of banks?
The answer seems obvious. A multi-million-dollar offshore "IRA" is a rich man's
way of thumbing his nose at the 99% of American taxpayers who have to pay their
taxes, rain or shine, via automatic payroll deductions. That Romney would treat other Americans so unjustly calls
his character into question.
Have people taken to calling Romney the "Romneybot"
because he lacks the things that make human beings
human: warmth, humor, compassion, empathy, and a sense of fair play and justice?
It can be painful watching Romney when he tries to josh around with other people
or connect with them emotionally. Something appears
to be missing ... he really
does act like an android programmed to spit out the correct answers without
understanding the questions at the heart and gut
level. Americans want their presidents to care about Americans who are
suffering, and we have been fortunate to have had presidents who really did seem
to care: Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Obama, to name a few.
Even George W. Bush, for all the terrible mistakes he made, seemed to care; his
problems lay in other areas, such as thinking and speaking. But Romney strikes
me as being more like Nixon: something essential seems to be missing. This is
evidenced in their inability to connect with average Americans.
For instance, here's what Romney said recently about
less wealthy Americans who want affordable healthcare, referring to his speech
to the NAACP:
When I mentioned [that] I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t
happy ... That’s okay. I want people to know what I stand for, and if I don’t
stand for what they want, go vote for someone else; that’s just fine … But I
hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of
this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other
guy — more free stuff.
But Romney seems to be all about "free stuff" ... for himself and his
super-rich friends. Even if it's somehow "wrong" for poor people to want affordable
healthcare for their children and aging parents, isn't it vastly worse from
someone richer than Midas to insult them while ripping apart their safety nets,
so that he can become even richer? (As I wrote this paragraph, I had a vision of
Ebenezer Scrooge denying raises to Bob Cratchit while Tiny Tim wasted away
for want of an operation.)
How can someone who gets away with highway robbery turn around and condemn
average Americans for requesting a much smaller break?
For instance, Romney served on the board of Damon
Clinical Laboratories, which pled guilty to charges of defrauding Medicare and
agreed to pay the largest health care criminal fraud fine
in history at the time, over $119 million altogether. Corporate Crime Reporter put it like
this: "As manager and board member of Damon Corp, Mitt Romney sits at the center
of one of the top 15 corporate crimes of the 1990’s." Romney never reported
Damon's fraud to the proper authorities. When Corning bought Damon, it
discovered the fraud and reported it. Bain and Romney earned millions from their
investment in Damon, but conveniently never noticed that Damon was obtaining
"free stuff" from our cash-strapped federal government. According to a
Boston Globe report, Romney claimed that he and fellow board
members uncovered what was later determined to be a criminal
scheme to defraud Medicare in 1993, yet acknowledged that the directors did not turn
over their findings to federal authorities who were then investigating the medical
testing industry. While Damon went bankrupt, with
thousands of employees losing their jobs, Bain Capital enjoyed a $12 million profit,
over $450,000 of that money going to Romney personally.
Is it fair that Romney made so much money from
healthcare, then turned around and mocked less advantaged people for only wanting
healthcare they can afford?
Please don't get me wrong: I don't begrudge Romney his success or his wealth.
But if it's true that he paid virtually no taxes for more than a decade, while
amassing a fortune estimated at $200 million or more, that seems
terribly unfair to the 99% of Americans who do pay their fair share of taxes,
rain or shine. When he mocks and criticizes them, that only adds insult to
injury and makes him seem like a heartless, soulless android ... the Romneybot.
Romney strikes me as a hypocritical creep for three reasons: (1)
he blasts Obamacare, but his Romneycare was
obviously the model for Obamacare; (2) he favors bailing out Wall Street
billionaires yet denies average Americans what he imperiously calls
"entitlements;" and (3) he has no compunction about taking "free stuff" himself,
by evading taxes despite his fabulous personal wealth.
Mr. "Free Stuff" Part II
Obviously, there is something terribly wrong when a rich, imperious tax dodger lectures
hard-working American taxpayers about not asking for "free stuff" when, in reality, all they want
is a fair shake.
Romney's hypocrisy about American healthcare seems to know no bounds. When he
traveled to Poland, he praised Poland for its economic success, but Poland
provides free medical care to all its citizens despite having less that half the
per-capita income of the U.S. When Romney traveled to Israel, he praised Israel
for its superior economy, which he attributed to a superior culture. But in
Israel, healthcare is universal and medical insurance is compulsory. As a
result, Israel has the fourth-highest life expectancy among
earth's nations, at 82 years. And of course Romney has no problem giving
"free stuff" to his rich friends in Israel. (He and Israeli Prime Minister
Benyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu are pals.) According to the Washington Report on
Middle Eastern Affairs, since 1949 the U.S. government has given Israel more
than $134 billion in financial aid. That's more than $23,000 per Israeli
citizen. So American taxpayers who struggle to afford healthcare for themselves
have probably paid for every Israeli citizen to enjoy superior healthcare,
either in whole or in part.
Before Romney lectures Americans, I think he should listen for a change to a
Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country and giving it to the rich people of a poor country.—Ron Paul
Why does Romney want to give "free stuff" to his rich friends in Israel, why
denying affordable healthcare to Americans? Is it because Romney is getting
"free stuff" from rich, powerful Jews, in return for Romney selling his fellow
citizens down the river?
Why do rich Republicans like Romney begrudge American citizens affordable
healthcare, while helping to provide the best healthcare on the planet to Israeli
citizens? It seems obvious to me that alpha males like Romney see other people as
steppingstones on their path to money, power and personal glory. Romney doesn't give a damn
about Americans not having decent healthcare, and he doesn't give a damn about Israelis
having superior healthcare. He doesn't think in such terms, which would require
him to empathize with other people and their suffering. No, Romney is a
sociopath and the decisions he makes
are based purely on self-interest. He favors giving money to Israel
because that buys him Jewish votes and campaign contributions from fellow
billionaires like Sheldon Adelson. Adelson wants the U.S. to move its embassy
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, putting the final stamp of approval on Israel's
evil, unjust scheme to add the 20% of Palestinian land it doesn't currently own,
to the 80% of Palestinian land it stole by force, hook and crook (thanks of
course to money and weapons provided by gullible American taxpayers through
their villainous politicians). Romney doesn't seem to understand or care that
the constant theft of Palestinian land, and the brutal, degrading treatment of
Palestinians by the Israeli Injustice Machine were the root causes of 911 and
the subsequent wars, which have cost average Americans thousands of lives and
trillions of dollars. Men like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler and Romney
do not think in terms of the suffering their actions will produce for other
people. They put grandiose visions above human lives and happiness. When Romney
talks about the "American Century" and offering "No Apology" (the title of his
book) for America dominating the world because
American "exceptionalism" entitles Americans to dominate the world, he is
repeating almost verbatim what Hitler said in his egocentric rants ...
the American century = the thousand-year Reich
American exceptionalism = Deutschland uber alles (Germany over all)
"dangerous" Muslims = "dangerous" Jews
Gaza walled ghetto = Warsaw walled ghetto
Palestinian refugee camps = Jewish concentration camps
Iraq = Poland
Iran = Czechoslovakia
"ally" Israel = "ally" Italy
fascist friend Netanyahu = fascist friend Mussolini
History really does seem to repeat itself, and Romney really does seem like a
slightly spruced-up, slicked-down version of Hitler. But I digress ...
Romney's Tax Returns
Romney also derides
Americans for requesting affordable healthcare out of self-interest because conservatives hate
President Obama and he will win a lot of conservative votes and campaign cash by opposing
Obamacare, even though it was modeled after his own Romneycare. But do we need a
president who puts his interest above those of 300 million Americans? Do we want
a president who cheats on his taxes, when he's richer than Midas? Do we want a
president who will say anything to anyone in order to glean
cash and votes?
Now, on to those troublesome tax returns ...
Joshua Green, writing in Businessweek, asked the question that's on
everyone's mind: "What's Romney Hiding in His Tax Returns?" In his article,
Green made the point that because Romney has released his 2010 and estimated
2011 tax returns, but won't release his 2009 return, there must be something
damning in the 2009 return. But if the 2009 return was an anomaly, Romney could
release his returns for the ten prior years, or at least disclose the amounts he
paid in taxes each year, then explain why 2009 was the exception to the rule. So
I think it is more likely that there are serious problems with many (or all) of
his tax returns for years prior to 2010.
Matt Yglesias of Slate.com has suggested a different
2009 scenario: that Romney may not have previously been disclosing the Swiss
bank account mentioned in his 2010 return. In 2009, the IRS offered amnesty to
taxpayers who had been hiding Swiss accounts: essentially, "Disclose and ante
up, and we won't send you to jail." Is it possible that Romney took that deal,
which might seem like the confession of a crime to the American public?
Ezra Klein, writing for The Washington Post, speculates that Romney's
effective tax rate may have been so low for certain years, including 2009, that
to reveal the percentages might be political suicide. My educated guess is that
Klein is correct. I think, based on remarks made by "people in the know" like
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that Romney's effective tax rates for the
years 2009 and prior may have been closer to 0% than to his 2010 rate of 14%. Thus,
Romney can't reveal his tax returns because they make him seem like a shyster.
Quite probably, because he is.
Also, if Romney has sheltered half his wealth or
more from income taxes, even the 14% disclosed in 2009 may be wildly overstated,
since it would be based on artificially reduced base revenues. If any Romney tax
return prior to 2010 showed large investments being wildly devalued to a few
thousand dollars, then placed in offshore "IRAs" ... well, the jig would be up,
and Romney might be in danger of huge tax liabilities, penalties and jail. From
what I have gathered in my research, it seems entire Bain-owned companies may
have been placed in a series of such "IRAs." If so, it would be more than just
political suicide for Romney to release his returns.
This would also explain why the Romneys look and act so positively weird
when the subject of tax returns is raised. Mitt's wife, Ann Romney, who has offshore accounts and a horse in the Olympics, recently
told Robin Roberts imperiously, "We have given all you people need to know and
understand about our financial situation and how we live our life." She
sounded like a feudal queen talking down to a bunch of serfs. Like her
imperious husband, she seems to think the America public doesn't deserve full disclosure.
Who the hell are we to question someone rich enough to have Swiss bank accounts, Bermuda trusts,
Cayman Island IRAs, and horses in the Olympics?
Mr. "Free Stuff" Part III
In any case, it seems Mitt Romney had no compunctions about
getting "free stuff" himself.
Take, for example, GST Steel. Romney's company Bain Capital bought GST Steel for
$75 million, but put only $8 million of its own money into the deal, borrowing
the rest. Within a year, Romney and Bain had saddled GST Steel with another $125
million in debt, with $36 million of the borrowed money being
paid to Romney and Bain as a dividend. So less than a year after loading
the company with debt 15 times the amount they had
invested, Romney and Bain gave themselves bonuses four times their
investment. What tax rate did they pay on that unearned income? A measly 15
percent, thanks to the "free stuff" available to rich investors in the U.S. tax
code. And at the same time Romney and Bain were pocketing $36 million in
borrowed funds, they were asking Kansas City to forfeit $3 million in public
money to give them tax breaks.
That's even more free stuff. Furthermore, when GST Steel filed for
bankruptcy and laid off 750 people, it turned out
that Bain had underfunded its pension obligations to those employees. So the
federal government's pension benefit guarantee corporation was stuck with a $44
million bill. Thus, Bain cost the government $44 million for the pensions, $3 million
for the local tax breaks and $7 million in federal taxes. That's $54 million in
"free stuff" from the government. And that was just one of Romney's and Bain's
"Mr. Romney’s Financial Black Hole," a July 10, 2012 editorial in the New
York Times, explains why the sketchy
information released by Romney to date indicates
"a concerted effort to park much of his wealth in overseas tax shelters,
suggesting a widespread pattern of tax avoidance unlike that of any previous
Meanwhile, in a remarkable accusation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
recently said, "His father,
George Romney, set the precedent that people running for president would file
their tax returns ... but Mitt Romney can’t do that
because he’s basically paid no taxesin
the prior 12 years."
How is it possible that one of American's wealthiest men paid virtually no taxes
for 12 years? If Reid's statement is false, Mitt Romney
could simply produce his tax returns and disprove it. But instead Romney seems
to be confirming that where there is smoke there is also fire, by adamantly
refusing to release any of his returns prior to 2010. As a result, even arch-conservatives
like Newt Gingrich, George Will, Bill Kristol, Matthew Dowd, Haley Barbour and
Michael Steele have added their voices to those of liberals who have been upbraiding Romney in public. As
Will said recently, "The cost of not releasing the returns are clear, therefore,
he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them." Dowd
agreed, saying, "There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing
there, he would say, ‘Have at it.’" Kristol called it "crazy" for Romney not to
release more returns.
But perhaps he can't release his returns, without risking charges of illegal
income tax evasion. Did Romney break the letter of the tax
law, as well as the spirit? Has he sheltered
up to $100 million of his personal fortune in offshore IRAs, as various
reputable news services have suggested? If Romney protected most of his wealth from income taxes, his effective tax rate
prior to 2010 may be
closer to 0% than 14%, and that would explain him
blinking and squirming like a fish out
of water when he was asked to disclose his
taxes during a Republican presidential debate. When I saw the
hemming and hawing about disclosing his returns,
to a chorus of boos, I knew there was something in them that he didn't want the American public to
During the debate in question, Newt Gingrich pointed out that there was no
rational reason to delay disclosing tax returns for
prior years, and that American voters have the right to see such
returns before they vote. Debate moderator John King mentioned that
Mitt's father had voluntarily disclosed tax returns for
12 years, when he ran for president, pointing out that disclosing just
one year's return could be seen as non-representative and/or deceptive.
But it was obvious that Mitt Romney wanted people to vote before he
disclosed any of his returns, and that makes no sense unless there's
something in the older returns that he doesn't want American voters to see.
(Multi-million dollar tax dodges, perhaps?) In any case, since 1967,
presidential candidates have voluntarily disclosed multiple years of tax
returns. The first to do so was George Romney. Ironically, the first since then to refuse
to do so is his son, Mitt Romney.
Here's my main question: If what Romney did is on the up-and-up, why doesn't he just say,
"Look, what I did was perfectly legal, but it is unfair to other American
taxpayers, and we need to fix the unfair tax system and close the loopholes."
But by refusing to disclose his older tax returns, he gives the strong
impression that he did something wrong.
As reported by reputable news services like the New York Times,
Wall Street Journal,TIME, Reuters, CBS News and Huffington Post, Romney may have sheltered his
Bain holdings from taxes, in offshore accounts. For example, a Bermuda-based vehicle
called the Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. has been described in
securities filings as "a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney."
Romney transferred his wife’s newly-created blind trust to Sankaty on January 1,
2003, the day before he was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts. Sankaty's
director and president is R. Bradford Malt, Romney’s personal lawyer.
Romney failed to list Sankaty on several financial disclosures, even though
such a closely-held vehicle would seemingly not qualify as an "excepted investment fund."
According to what Romney aides have said the past, some of Romney's funds may
have below the $1,000 in assets that would trigger
disclosure requirements. But Sankaty was used in Bain's
billion-dollar takeover of Domino's Pizza and other multimillion-dollar
investment deals. And yet Sankaty was only
made public when Romney disclosed his 2010 tax return, after being pressured to
do so during the debates. Having most or much of his wealth in offshore
tax shelters could easily explain Romney's fish-out-of-water
act, when pressured to disclose his returns. And it's hard to imagine that the
wife of a multimillionaire has under $1,000 in her trust. Who even bothers to
set up overseas trusts for a few hundred dollars? Surely the American public
has the right to know why a man running for president has so many offshore
accounts that give every appearance of being part of a shell game to avoid U.S. income taxes. Is there any reason to create shell companies in Bermuda and the
Cayman Islands, other than to avoid U.S. laws and taxes?
As Nicholas Shaxson pointed out in a recent Vanity Fair article, such
investments "provided a lavish smorgasbord for Romney’s critics. Particularly
jarring were the Romneys’ many offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich put it during
the primary season, 'I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss
bank account.' But Romney has, as well as other interests in such tax havens as
Bermuda and the Cayman Islands."
To date, Romney has released a full tax filing only
for 2010. Former President Bill Clinton recently told NBC's Today Show
that Mitt Romney's hesitation to release more tax returns struck him as "odd,"
saying, "I am a little surprised he only released a year's worth of tax returns.
That kind of perplexed me, because this is the first time in, I don't know, more
than 30 years that anybody running for president has only done that. You know,
it's typical we all release 10, 11 years; I think Senator McCain released over
20 years of tax returns." (And of course Romney's father set the precedent by
voluntarily releasing 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president.)
And there is good reason to question whether Romney's "blind trusts" are really
blind. For instance, one of the investments that R. Bradford Malt made with
Romney's "blind" trust was to put $10 million in Solamere, a company co-founded
by Romney’s son Tagg and Romney’s campaign finance chair, Spencer Zwick. The
Solamere investment strongly suggests that Romney’s "blind" trust is operating
under Romney's watchful eye. And if you don’t believe me, please consult an
expert: in 1994, Mitt Romney explained that the
"blind trust is an age old ruse!"
I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said,
whatever it was.—Mitt Romney
Romney is so confident that he's infallible, that he doesn't even have to know
what he said to be sure that it was correct. But in reality, Romney is far from
infallible. For instance, after CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced himself by saying,
"I'm Wolf Blitzer and yes, that's my real name" at the beginning of a November
2011 Republican presidential debate, the Romneybot responded:
I'm Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that's also my first name. (Romney's first name is Willard; Mitt is his middle
Who let the dogs out? Who, who?—Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney became Mitt Inappropriate during an awkward photo op with a group of African Americans kids at a Martin Luther King Day
parade in January 2008.
Mr. Etch A Sketch
These and other issues will be
discussed on this page. Romney has been accused of running an "Etch A Sketch"
campaign, which was recently admitted by one of his campaign advisers. The plan
seems to be that Romney will appear to be ultraconservative in the Republican primaries, then "shake to reset"
and appeal to moderates in the general election. Since few conservatives will
vote for President Obama under any circumstances, this deceptive plan may have a
chance of working. But perhaps the most troubling questions about Romney
are not his personal and financial ethics, or his flip-flopping and pandering
for votes, or his willingness to kowtow to the wealthiest 1% of Americans while
leaving the remaining 99% in the lurch. In my opinion, the most troubling
questions about the Romneybot have to do with his character. The quotes below betray a disturbing lack of
empathy or compassion for anyone who isn't cruising down Easy Street in a Rolls
We should double Guantanamo!—Mitt Romney
Should we double the size of an extraterritorial prison camp best known around
the world as a symbol of torture and illegal incarceration of prisoners as young
as 13 and as old as 98?
Back in high school, you know, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was
hurt by that or offended, obviously, I apologize for that … You know, I don’t, I
don’t remember that particular incident [laughs]… I participated in a lot of
high jinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and
for that I apologize.—Mitt Romney on Fox News Radio
Romney was talking about an incident in which he and some of his high-school
classmates viciously bullied a fellow student, John Joseph Lauber. Romney's
classmates who participated in the bullying incident remember it, and have
expressed remorse. If Romney can't even remember the incident, that suggests
that he either did such things so frequently that they failed to register, or
that he lacks normal human empathy and compassion, or both. His laughter while
discussing the incident seems to suggest that he still doesn't "get" the
seriousness of what he did. Here are the details, from a Washington Post
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his
studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the
handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he
spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties
and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind
Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality.
Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that
draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it. "He can’t look like that.
That’s wrong. Just look at him!" an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his
close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection.
Mitt, the teenage son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about
Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled. A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens
Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own
room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s
hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber,
tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with
tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of
scissors. The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their
accounts independently of one another. Four of them — Friedemann, now a dentist;
Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer; Thomas Buford, a retired prosecutor; and David Seed,
a retired principal — spoke on the record. Another former student who witnessed
the incident asked not to be identified ... "It happened very quickly, and to
this day it troubles me," said Buford, the school’s wrestling champion, who said
he joined Romney in restraining Lauber. Buford subsequently apologized to
Lauber, who was "terrified," he said. "What a senseless, stupid, idiotic thing
to do." "It was a hack job," recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who
was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. "It was vicious." "He was just
easy pickin’s," said Friedemann, then the student prefect, or student authority
leader of Stevens Hall, expressing remorse about his failure to stop it.
David Seed, an onlooker who did not participate in the bullying, later
apologized to Lauber for not doing more to help prevent it. The only person
involved not to express remorse, and who claims not to remember what happened,
is Romney. According to his campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, "Governor Romney
has no memory of participating in these incidents."
Atta girl!—Mitt Romney taunting a closeted gay high school student, Gary Hummel
Here's what Amy Davidson wrote about the first incident for The New Yorker:
"Does he [Romney] count this as a high jink or a prank? It was neither; it is
hard to imagine that hurt, rather than being the byproduct, was anything other
than the point of the attack on Lauber. In terms of what a gay teen-ager might
encounter, and what other boys might go along with at a school like Cranbrook,
1965 was different; but memory and empathy are not qualities that have only been
invented since then. As our country has changed, and the other boys became men,
they seem to have turned the events of that day over in their minds, not once,
but many times, and made something new out of it. That’s why it’s all the worse
that Romney says he can’t remember—that he walked blithely away from the boy
crying on the ground and kept going. Was there nowhere in him for that sight to
lodge? ... And how far has Romney moved? This story is resonant because one can,
all too easily, see Romney walking away even now, or simply failing to connect,
to grasp hurt ... Who else might he walk away from?"
Josh Barro, writing for Forbes, made another very interesting point:
"The story is more damning for Romney in other ways. It’s telling that the
campaign seems to be having so much difficulty finding any friends from the
Cranbrook School to talk to the media about what a good guy he was. The Romney
camp reached out to Stuart White (who threw the party where Mitt and Ann Romney
met) asking him to make supportive remarks. Instead, White contacted ABC News
and expressed his ambivalence to do so, saying, "it’s been a long time since we
were pals." Another old friend of Romney’s told ABC on background that Romney’s
behavior in high school was "like Lord of the Flies" and that a number of
people from Cranbrook have "really negative memories" of him. Is there really no
one from Cranbrook that Romney can persuade to vouch for him? The whole thing
gives the sense that Romney was a Regina George-like figure in high
school—"popular," but mostly because other students were afraid to cross him ...
But does Romney have empathy for people who are different from him? The tone of
Romney’s reaction today does not look good on the empathy front. Referring to an
assault on a classmate as "hijinks and pranks" is pretty tone-deaf ... Romney’s
actions as governor also suggest that he doesn’t view bullying as a significant
problem. In 2006, Romney threatened to dissolve the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, established
by Republican Governor William Weld in 1992, and then to expand its mission to
cover all youth. The legislature established a independent commission,
overriding a Romney veto, in response to these threats. A key part of the
commission’s mandate is the prevention of anti-LGBT bullying in schools. His
administration also repeatedly delayed the publication of an anti-bullying handbook for public schools,
which had been developed in 2002 by Governor Jane Swift’s Task Force on Hate
Crimes. Kathleen Henry, who chaired the Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth at
the time, said she thought the guidebook was held up due to its LGBT-related
content, particularly content to do with transgender students. Ultimately, the
handbook was published under Governor Deval Patrick, six years after it was
Barro concluded his article by saying, "This actually goes to Romney’s greatest
weakness as a candidate. Nobody knows how he really feels or what he cares
about. People look at him and they can’t see evidence that he understands or
cares about their needs. They’re not sure he can relate to people who are
different from him. This incident, and his nonchalant reaction to being reminded
about it, reinforce the impression that Romney lacks empathy."
I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.—Mitt Romney
Not concerned, when the Grand Old Pontiffs, led by men like Romney, want to
slash the safety nets of what they call "entitlements" while preserving tax cuts
for the super-rich and waging more trillion-dollar wars in the Middle East, the
next one presumably against Iran? Who will end up dying in those unwinnable wars? The
children of the very poor, of course.
I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed.—Mitt Romney
Romney, speaking to unemployed Floridians, once again demonstrated an amazing
lack of empathy and concern for people who are actually down on their luck. His
net worth has been estimated at $200 to $250 million.
I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much. —Mitt Romney
Romney earned $374,000 in speaking fees in a single year, according to his
personal financial disclosure. Once again Romney demonstrates his extreme
disconnect from average Americans, who would consider making that kind of money
from a few speaking engagements a real windfall (please pardon the
I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all
my life.—Mitt Romney
Romney's campaign later said he'd been hunting twice, once when he was 15, the
other time at a Republican fundraiser when he was 59. Hunting twice in 44 years
hardly qualifies one as the Great White Hunter, but perhaps more unsettling than
his blatant vote-pandering is Romney's desire to brag about his hunting/killing
PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.—Mitt Romney
Oh, really? Romney strapped a crate containing his Irish Setter, Seamus, to the roof of his station
wagon for a twelve-hour drive from Boston to Ontario. When the terrified dog
lost control of its bowels, Romney pulled over, sprayed the car and the dog down
with a hose, then resumed driving. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk
noted: "Any individual who does something like that may have what scientists
term the absence of the mirror neuron, i.e., a pin-pointable absence in the
brain of the characteristic which allows the individual to feel basic
compassion. The implications are frightening ... Mr. Romney seems to hold the
very old-fashioned idea that he needs to actively show he is heartless, hence
the hunting claims he has made. Not subsistence hunting, but pride in killing
defenseless animals for sport, for fun, for show. In the case of the dog on the
roof of the car, if this is true, quite remarkably it obviously wasn't for show
as only his own children were watching, a lesson in cruelty that was also wrong
for them to witness. There was also the obviousness of the situation. Thinking
of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the
roof, it is commonsense that any dog who’s under extreme stress might show that
stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient
indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured. If you wouldn’t strap
your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the
family dog! I don't know who would find that acceptable."
Here's a comment I found online that I believe makes germane points about
Romney: "The classic definition of a sociopath is someone who can feel his own
pain, but is incapable of feeling another's. Remember how desperately wounded
George Bush felt when Kanye West accused him of not caring about black people?
And how utterly untouched he appeared to be in the face of 1500+ such black
people, dead in New Orleans? Classic sociopath. Mitt Romney suffers from exactly
the same pathology—strap the dog on the roof of the car and off you go on your
nice vacation. Trim the hair on the "maybe homosexual" because he shouldn't look
like that, and off you go to finish your homework. There's a piece missing in
Mitt, and it's an essential quality in the man or woman this country needs as
its President at this time in our history. We need a Lincoln or a Franklin
Roosevelt—someone with not only the necessary talents, skills, capabilities,
experience, etc. to lead this nation, but someone who also possesses the
capacity for empathy and the moral compass required to understand in which
direction we should be headed. Mitt Romney is not the man we need—now or
ever—and he would be a total disaster as President of the United States. Vote."
Here's another pertinent comment that I found online: "Like most people, I don't
believe he wouldn't remember an incident like this! But for the sake of
argument, if a person really did not remember holding a kid down and cutting
[his] hair wouldn't the natural reaction to be horrified and indignantly deny
the accusation? Just saying 'I don't remember' without expressing any outrage is
alarming and emotionally backwards in and of itself. Unlike most people posting,
I really was leaning towards voting for Romney but this story sounds bad any
which way you look at it. Also, on a purely pragmatic level. I think that this
kind of bullying shows a low level of emotional intelligence that could actually
be dangerous when it comes to negotiating with enemies or dealing with truly
tough, real-world situations. Regardless of political leanings, any leader who
is strong and effective has to also be sensitive, quick with nuance, and have
sharp instincts in order to survive and fight in hard times. All in all, a very
And here's a third comment: "I'm sorry, but I must speak my mind on this. I
think the concern over this—and a pattern of other incidents—extends far beyond
whether he was a spoiled, rich boy. The real concern about Romney is that his
actual behavior displays anti-social tendencies, i.e., sociopathic. Sociopaths
are very, very good at concealing their real "feelings," if you can call them
that, as they climb to the top of the human pyramid. They crave power over
others, and see no reason for the normal humility and concerns that many of us
feel when in the public's service. Here are a list of qualities for the
anti-social, sociopathic person: - Glibness and Superficial Charm: Check. -
Manipulative: One doctor's definition: "Fail to recognize the rights of others
and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming,
yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an
instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims." The story
speaks for itself. Check. - Grandiose Sense of Self: Check. - Pathological
Lying: No memory? At all? No problem saying so? Check. - Lack of Remorse, Shame
or Guilt: Third-person apology? Check. - Shallow Emotions: Another definition:
"When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more
feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by
insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a
normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises." A
politician's promises? Not genuine? The flip flopping on what should be
heart-felt social issues attests to this issue. Check. - Callousness/Lack of
Empathy: Well, that is what this article is about. The excitement of cruelty is
one of the few, tenuous connections to true emotions they are capable of, which
if emphasized, extends into psychotic behaviors. Thus, this story from Romney's
past is not only revelatory, but deeply concerning. Is the Mormon persona
something that he is using as a disguise, a red herring? If it is, he probably
wouldn't know himself, since his brain may be disconnected from the genuine and
sincere feelings the rest of us experience daily. I am very, deeply concerned.
God bless America. We may be in great need of His help, very soon."
Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are ... Human beings, my
Does the Romneybot confuse heartless corporations with human beings because he
lacks a human heart himself?
Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.—Mitt Romney
Getting rid of Planned Parenthood and denying women access to contraceptives
seem to be high on the Republican Party's agenda. But what happens to all the
girls and women who aren't ready to become mothers and/or can't afford to have
children? Where is there any empathy or compassion for them, or the unwanted
babies? Republicans have made it clear that they have no intention of helping
out people in need, so forcing girls and women to have babies they don't want or
can't afford seems truly heartless.
Romney says it's wrong to borrow money from China to fund Planned Parenthood,
but he seems quite content to borrow trillions from China to fund new military
hardware and wars in the Middle East. If it's wrong to borrow a few million
dollars to fund contraceptives, family planning and healthcare for girls and
women, isn't it much worse to borrow trillions of dollars to attack other
I would repeal Obamacare.—Mitt Romney
But "Obamacare" is obviously modeled after Romney's own health care plan,
President Obama pointed out, Romney seems to be pretending that the two plans
are radically different, saying: "We designed a program that actually previously had
support of Republicans, including the person who may end up being the Republican
standard bearer and is now pretending like he came up with something different."
Romney's Massachusetts health care plan served as a model for the Affordable
Care Act ("Obamacare"). Why does he now rail against a very similar plan? Probably because the
only way he can get elected is to appeal to right-wing conservatives who
despises anything President Obama does, on general principle, even if he does
what Republicans formerly suggested. Repealing Obamacare without coming up with
something better might cause American citizens to suffer and die, but that
seems to be secondary to the all-important goal of Mitt Romney becoming
president, regardless of the cost.
I will never, ever apologize for America.—Mitt Romney
But obviously when the United States makes mistakes, apologies are in order.
Ronald Reagan signed legislation that apologized for the internment of Japanese
Americans during World War II. On August 10, 1988, Reagan said himself that "We
admit a wrong." Also, Reagan's Justice Department issued a formal apology to
France for protecting Klaus Barbie, a Nazi whom U.S. intelligence recruited and
shielded in the aftermath of World War II. Reagan also expressed regret for the
U.S. military shooting down an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf and
offered compensation to both Iranian and non-Iranian victims.
I am big believer in getting money where the money is. The money is in
Romney is a braggart who waffles from position to position, depending on the
people he's trying to impress or gain votes from. When he's appealing to
conservatives for votes, he's a down-on-his-luck unemployed hunter who deplores
Washington insiders and spending. But when he's trying to impress someone else,
he's the consummate Washington insider who knows how the get the big bucks from
the federal government. Romney called the auto industry bailouts "crony
capitalism on a grand scale," but he wasn't above lobbying Congress to bail out
the Salt Lake City Olympics, an intervention that ended up costing U.S. taxpayers
about $1.3 billion, according to TIME (August 29, 2011).
Before I made a statement [about the Palestinians] I’d get on the phone to
my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: "Would it help if I say this? What would you
like me to do?"—Mitt Romney
Here's an excerpt from the New York Times about the statement above,
which seems to suggest that Romney will allow Israel to either set or direct
U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East: "Romney has suggested that he would not make
any significant policy decisions about Israel without consulting Mr. Netanyahu —
a level of deference that could raise eyebrows given Mr. Netanyahu’s polarizing
reputation, even as it appeals to the neoconservatives and evangelical
Christians who are fiercely protective of Israel. In a telling exchange during a
debate in December, Mr. Romney criticized Mr. Gingrich for making a disparaging
remark about Palestinians, declaring: 'Before I made a statement of that nature,
I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ‘Would it help if I
say this? What would you like me to do?’' Martin S. Indyk, a United States
ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration, said that whether
intentional or not, Mr. Romney’s statement implied that he would "subcontract
Middle East policy to Israel." "That, of course, would be inappropriate," he
Romney's Fiscal Insanity
Romney claims to have a plan for America's financial salvation. He confidently
announces that he will put Americans back to work, end Obamacare with a wave of
his magic wand, balance the budget, restore the federal government's AAA credit
rating, etc. But in reality his "plan" boils down to throwing even more money at
the super-rich, due to the failed thinking that making the rich richer will
cause money to "trickle down" to the less affluent. Albert Einstein, a very
smart cookie, once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again,
hoping for different results. By that rule of thumb, Romney is insane, and so is
After his primary victories in Michigan
and Arizona, Romney
detailed a list of tax changes designed to delight wealthy Americans, while sending everyone
else to the poorhouse. He promised to enact an "across-the-board, 20 percent rate cut for every
American," to "repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax," and
abolish the "death tax" ("death tax" is conservative-speak for the estate
tax paid by by only the wealthiest Americans). He also
pledged to lower the corporate tax rate
to 25 percent, to "make the R&D tax credit permanent to foster innovation," and
"end the repatriation tax to return investment back to our shores."
That's truly wonderful for the Warren Buffets and Bill Gateses of the world, but
what about the rest of us?
Perhaps at first glance an across-the-board tax cut sounds nicely fair and balanced. But a
recent Tax Policy Center study of the impact of
a 20% across-the-board cut indicated that the wealthiest 0.1%
would get an average tax reduction of $264,000. The poorest 20% would get
$78, and those in the middle would get an average of $791. And the TCP predicted that
the plan would add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
Romney Betrays His Roots and Religion
"His father was a beloved governor because he was pragmatic and compassionate
and moderate," former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm told The National
Memo, referring to the late George Romney, who was a popular auto executive
before he was elected Michigan's top official. "Mitt Romney, while he may have
been some of those things while he was governor of Massachusetts, is vying to
outflank Rick Santorum on the right, and he is not his father. He has morphed
into something his father would not recognize."
Like many other Republicans who profess to be Christians, in his eagerness to be
considered a "conservative's conservative," Mitt Romney has forgotten or ignored
the teachings of Jesus, the apostles and Hebrew prophets, all of whom said that
true religion is to practice chesed (mercy, compassion, lovingkindness)
and social justice. Ironically, the GOP's alpha males who profess to "believe" in
God are now practicing social and economic Darwinism: the survival of the
strongest and most ruthless at the expense of everyone else, particularly
mothers, children, the elderly, the sick, the unemployed and the poor.
Just try finding a Bible verse to support that type of behavior!
Romney Waffles Because He Panders to Religious Fanatics in His Quest for
When asked to define himself in a single word during a recent debate,
Mitt Romney chose the word "resolute." But Romney seems to always be willing to waffle if doing so will gain him
votes and campaign contributions. Take, for instance, his inconsistent stance on global
warming. In his book No Apology, he wrote, "I believe that climate
change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to
ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am
uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much
is attributable to factors out of our control." But if global warming is
it doesn't matter a hill of beans who is responsible. All that matters is what
human beings can do to keep ice caps and glaciers from melting to such an extent that sea
levels rise and people and animals living on low-lying islands and in coastal regions begin to
suffer and die in
But recently Romney altered his position, rather obviously in order to win the
votes of conservative Christians whose "faith" leads them to ignore
facts and science. Romney now opposes spending money to address global warming
because it can't be "proven" that human beings are "responsible." Well, the
dinosaurs weren't "responsible" for asteroids hitting the earth and leading to the
climate change that caused their extinction, but they became extinct
nonetheless. President Barack Obama has taken the much more
intelligent and reasonable position that we
need to do whatever we can to do to deal with a warming planet and rising sea
levels. Republicans like Romney are pandering to irrational people in order to
obtain their votes and campaign contributions. That is obviously a very foolish,
very dangerous thing to do.
In my opinion, Mitt Romney is neither resolute, nor acting responsibly. He seems
to believe that his getting elected president is vastly more important that what
happens to our planet, more than eight billion human beings and trillions of
The Romney-Bot Delivers Standard GOP Propaganda
Mitt Romney certainly looks "presidential," but if we tear our eyes away
from his impressive figure long enough to actually heed his words, he sounds like a
robot programmed to mindlessly drone the standard Republican mantras:
"Everything bad that ever happened to Americans is the fault of Barack
Obama, and if you elect me I will wave my magic wand and fix everything my first
day in office, by repealing this, that and the other piece of socialistic legislation."
He makes it sound as if jobs and money will fall magically from trees, the day
he becomes president.
But like most robots, Romney seems to lack empathy for
average Americans. He is certainly no Ronald Reagan. While he’s not as creepy as
Richard Nixon, he seems even more implausibly remote
and alien. Take, for example, his recent remark that "I’m not concerned about
the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it.
I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine." He seems to
somehow calmly equate the pain-wracked struggles of the very poor with the mild
discomforts of the very rich (who just happen to be his friends).
And there seems to be a pattern of such disconnects. Not long ago,
Romney opined that his speaking fees of $374,327 for a single year were
"not very much." In June of 2011, he told unemployed Florida workers that he understood their plight,
saying. "I’m also unemployed. I’m networking. I have my sight on a particular
job." If he was trying to be funny, the joke undoubtedly fell flat, because
Romney has a personal safety net of $250 million and doesn't need the "job" he's
seeking in order to feed his family. At one of the early Republican debates,
he offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 — an amount that, however facetious,
reminded voters just how rich Romney really is, and how carefree he is about money.
Romney’s $101 Million Cayman Island IRA
How did Mitt Romney end up with a
$101 million Cayman Island IRA? It seems Romney may have sheltered all
or most of his Bain Capital wealth from taxes by putting it into an offshore "IRA" and
only allowing it to be valued correctly once the appreciation was protected from
taxes. If there is some other reasonable explanation for how anyone's IRA can be
so huge, when contributions are limited to a few thousand dollars per year, I'd
like to hear it.
I first became suspicious about Romney's finances when he
started squirming like a fish out of water when asked
about releasing his tax returns during a Republican presidential debate. I was sure at that moment that
there was something in his tax returns that he didn't want the public to see.
Ironically, Romney's father, George W. Romney, had voluntarily released his tax
returns for twelve years when he became a presidential candidate in 1967.
But Mitt Romney's public squirmings told me that something was obviously wrong
with his tax returns. Then later something in a
article about his tax returns caught my eye, because a single Bain fund was valued at $5 million to
$25 million, and yet it was called only "part" of his total IRA. Most
IRAs are relatively small because the contributions are capped at a few thousand
dollars per year. Romney's IRA seemed impossibly large, and it also seemed extremely
odd that it was made up of multiple offshore Bain investments in the
Cayman Islands, which are world-famous for two things: beautiful beaches and
hideous tax shelters. So I began trying
to determine what Romney's full IRA amounted to. Here's a Reuters report that I
found on the subject ...
How did Romney's IRA grow so big?
by Lynnley Browning
Monday, January 23, 2012
In the wake of news reports last week that presidential contender Mitt Romney
owns an individual retirement account worth as much as $101 million, questions
are growing over how it could have gotten so big when contribution limits are
capped at $5,000 or $6,000 a year.
Tax lawyers and accountants suggest an answer: Romney may have made use of an
Internal Revenue Service loophole that allows investors to undervalue interests
in investment partnerships when first putting them into an IRA. These assets can
produce returns far in excess of those that could be generated from other
investments made at the capped level.
An investor could even set an initial value for a partnership interest at
zero dollars, because under tax regulations an interest in a partnership
represents future income, not current value, said Chris Sanchirico, co-director
of the Center for Tax Law and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Law
Whether Romney used this technique, which is legal, when he put partnership
interests into his IRA is a question that won't likely be answered when he
discloses his 2010 tax returns on Tuesday.
Romney's IRA, valued at between $20.7 million and $101.6 million, as reported
by The Wall Street Journal last Thursday, holds stakes in 13 investment entities
run by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he cofounded and led for 13 years.
"One possibility for its size is that he put his Bain partnership interests
into the IRA and valued them at a very low number," said David Weisbach, a law
professor who focuses on tax at the University of Chicago Law School.
Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, declined to respond to
emails and calls.
In the wake of growing scrutiny of his personal wealth, Romney, one of the
wealthiest contenders ever for the White House, told Fox News host Chris Wallace
on Sunday that on Tuesday he would release his 2010 tax returns and estimates
for his 2011 return.
The release will not provide much insight into his IRA. That is because a
personal income-tax return shows IRA contributions and withdrawals only for the
year of the return, and not for previous years, and does not show whether any
contributions were in the form of undervalued partnership interests. While an
IRA investor can sometimes be required to file a separate return for the IRA, it
is unclear whether Romney intends to release any such returns.
Romney's personal financial summary, disclosed last August under federal
election rules, shows that his IRA holds his most lucrative investments, which
are stakes in partnerships run by Bain Capital. Those stakes include Bcip Trust
Associates III, a Bain fund that is his single largest investment, with assets
valued at $5,000,001 to $25,000,000. Bcip Trust Associates III produced income
to Romney's IRA of over $5,000,000 over 2010 and through August 12, 2011,
according to the summary.
Robert Stack, head of international tax at law firm Ivins Phillips & Barker,
said it is possible that Romney's IRA grew so large not only because of an
increase in the value of the funds in which it invests but also through
lucrative profits, typically 20 percent of investment gains per year, that funds
can generate for their general partners.
It is not known whether Romney is a general partner in the Bain funds,
meaning invested in the partnership responsible for managing the funds, or
simply an investor in the funds. The Romney campaign has declined to comment on
The general partners' cut of the profit, known as carried interest, is
taxable each year if the funds in which the IRA is invested earn certain
management fees or borrow to make their investments. Tax lawyers say they want
to know whether Romney's IRA holds any carried interest and whether it has paid
tax on it—something not disclosed in his personal financial summary or on a
federal income tax return. "In the context of a $100 million IRA, that is what
we would want to know," said David Miller, a tax lawyer at Cadwalader Wickersham
The average IRA held by Americans holds $42,500, according to the Investment
Company Institute, a trade group. While the Romney campaign has said that some
of his IRA consists of retirement savings rolled over from previous plans,
accountants say rollovers would not likely explain the size of his IRA.
"Even if he rolled over a 401k, with the annual caps on contributions, you're
still only talking about a few million dollars," said Robert Green, an
accountant who is founder of Green Trading, a tax and accounting firm that
caters to the investment industry. Last year, individuals could contribute a
maximum of $16,500 a year to their 401(k) plans.
Tax lawyers say it is also important to know whether Romney's IRA holds
stakes in Bain funds directly, or through related, offshore entities.
These entities, commonly used by tax-exempt investors such as Romney's IRA,
legally allow the investors to avoid having to pay a special tax, known as the
unearned business income tax, or UBTI.
While the Wall Street Journal suggested on Thursday that avoidance of the
special tax was a big reason for the size of Romney's IRA, some tax lawyers said
that its size might simply reflect the extreme profitability of a carried
interest held by the IRA. "The best guess is that he put the carried interest
into the IRA," Miller said.
Romney's IRA produced income of $1.5 million to $8.5 million over 2010 and
through August 12, 2011, according to his financial summary, but it is unknown
what, if any, taxes the IRA may have paid on its carried interest. Saul,
Romney's campaign spokeswoman, declined requests for comment.
(Reporting by Lynnley Browning; Additional reporting by Gregory Roumeliotis;
Editing by Amy Stevens, Eddie Evans and Carol Bishopric)
The average American IRA is $42,500, so
Romney’s seems outrageously large. His IRA produced income of $1.5 million to
$8.5 million between 2010 and 2011, so it seems quite possible that it
may be closer to the high end estimate of $101.6 million. Romney’s total
wealth has been estimated at around $200 million. If he shielded half his money
from all taxes, that would seem to drop his effective tax rate from around 14%
to around 7%. And that would explain why he looked like a fish out of water when
he was asked about disclosing his tax returns. In this case, I suspect that two
plus two probably results in four ... as in four more years for President Barack