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How Freeport Became Bainport, Thanks to Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and China

Thanks to Bishop Willard Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, you can watch a Chinese flag flying in Freeport, Illinois, replacing an American flag that was taken down before the job outsourcers arrived. You can see the Chinese flag at 1:09-1:12 in the video below.

Freeport, Illinois is the site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. At that time the nation was engaged in a national debate about the rights of slaves. The "free" in Freeport might have appealed to Abraham Lincoln as he strode to the podium, seeming like an omen that he was on the right path.

But today citizens of Freeport have suggested that its name should be changed to Bainport, because they feel they and their jobs were sold out to China by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney. They carry signs that say things like "Romney has a jobs plan ... too bad it’s for China." Freeport is only 65 miles from Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. Like Myth Romney, Lyin' Ryan loves to talk tough about China. But his boss is "the man" when it comes to liquidating American factories and outsourcing the jobs of American workers to China.

Ironically, Romney recently visited Janesville and talked about how jobs were his top priority — at the same time Freeport workers were being instructed to train their Chinese replacements! 

Bain has quite understandably declined to comment. But Bain has made lots of money by owning Sensata Technologies, the owner of the shuttered factory, quadrupling its initial 2006 investment in six short years. Workers insist that the factory is profitable and makes top quality auto sensors. "I understand business needs to make a profit. But this product has always made a ton of money. It's just that they think it is not enough money. They are greedy," said Tom Gaulraupp, who has put in 33 years at the plant and now faces the prospect of becoming jobless at the age of 54.

According to Freeport workers who wrote a group letter to Romney, "The worst indignity is that many of us are being asked to train the Chinese workers who are taking our jobs." One of them, Cheryl Randecker, said, "This just adds insult to injury. They’re going to be here three months and they’re not going to leave knowing everything they need to know." It appears that Romney and Bain are not only outsourcing American jobs to China, but American technology and know-how as well. The plant's machinery is being disassembled and shipped to China.

"I didn't have a clue what Bain was before this happened," said Randecker, "Now when I hear Romney speak it makes me sick to my stomach."

To add further insult to injury, Bain's underlings actually took down the factory's American flag and put up a Chinese flag, before the job outsourcers arrived. Sensata spokesman Jacob Sayer acknowledged that the decision to shift production to China was "an unfortunately event" for Freeport and said that he understands why it could be "difficult" for the workers to train their replacements. He claimed to have no idea why the American flag was removed before the Chinese engineers and technicians arrived, but that seems like an act of obvious deference, and hard to jibe with Romney's and Ryan's purported tough stance toward China.

Being told to train his replacement was humiliating and surreal, but Tom Gaulrapp said the worst part was when the plant’s American flag was taken down before the Chinese engineers arrived. Gaulrapp decided it was time to take a stand against outsourcing, and the man he blames for the loss of his job is Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who founded Bain Capital. Romney’s ties to Bain Capital have burdened the Republican nominee’s hopes of winning the November 6 election, as Democrats unfavorably portray him as a money-mad corporate raider who pioneered the outsourcing of American jobs to countries with lower labor costs.

Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp, no relation to Tom, says, "You can’t keep sending your jobs offshore and still have a middle class ... This company is competitive globally. They make a profit here. But Bain Capital decided to squeeze it a little further. That is not what capitalism is meant to be about."

Dot Turner, who joined the firm when she was 18 and put in 43 years on the factory floor, has suddenly found her long-cherished retirement plans thrown into disarray. She is 62 and knows that finding another job will be tough. According to her, "When Romney talks about creating jobs, it is just a big fairy tale."

Romney claims that Bain "created jobs" and is a model for the American future. That argument stuns Illinois governor Pat Quinn: "If he thinks that is the model for American economic growth then he is barking up the wrong tree," Quinn told The Guardian.

Bonnie Borman and other victims of Bain and Mitt Romney have watched their plant being dismantled and shipped to China, piece by piece, while they show teams of Chinese workers how to do their jobs. "It's not easy to get up in the morning, training them to do your job so that you can be made unemployed," said Borman, a mother of three who has worked for 23 years at the Sensata auto sensors plant.

Romney claims he knows nothing about this. But the New York Times explains that Romney "owns about $8 million worth of Bain funds that hold 51 percent of Sensata’s shares. If Sensata saves money by closing the Freeport plant, that could add money to Mr. Romney’s trust accounts, now or after the election."

Tom Gaulrapp in a letter to the Freeport Journal Standard said: "We presented [Republican representatives] with over 1,000 local petition signatures urging them to support a simple piece of legislation called “The Bring Jobs Home Act,” which would revoke tax incentives for businesses who outsource jobs to other countries and provide tax incentives for those businesses which bring jobs back to America. We, frankly couldn’t, and still can’t, fathom how anybody could be against this piece of legislation ... However, we were dismayed when the Speaker of the House refused to allow the bill to even be debated on the house floor and the House Republicans effectively killed the legislation ... I have given 33 years of my life to the company and my American Dream has been destroyed."

"It is kind of like part of your family being shipped out. I worked with that stuff for years. Now there's nothing left but a discoloration on the floor where the equipment used to sit," Gaulrapp said.

About 35 minutes into the first presidential debate, President Obama launched into a discussion of corporate taxes: "Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense."

Amazingly, Romney pretended not to know anything about American companies taking such deductions, although under his direction Bain Capital was a pioneer of such "savings."

The Nation refuted Romney, saying: "That’s not actually a debatable point. The US tax code has, since the 1980s, provided multinational corporations with tax breaks for moving jobs overseas. Democrats and Republicans have talked for years about changing the code. The issue was debated in the Senate as recently as July, when Republicans blocked action on the 'Bring Jobs Home Act,' which would have provided a 20 percent tax break for the costs of moving jobs back to the United States. That measure would, as well, have rescinded business expense deductions that CNN notes are now 'available to companies that are associated with the cost of moving operations overseas.' For Romney, whose debate performance was not encumbered by facts, those details were of no consequence. Capitalizing on the post-truth moment in which he found himself, Romney turned the entire discussion on its head and suggested that Obama was making things up. '[You] said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas,' the Republican said to the Democrat. 'Look, I’ve been in business for twenty-five years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. But—but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.' That’s just wrong. It is the case.

And it is unimaginable that anyone who made a fortune with a company that, in the words of The Washington Post, “invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India” would be unaware of the tax breaks for firms that, um, relocate jobs. Just as it is unimaginable that anyone who has been involved in American politics over the past two decades could be unaware of an issue that the US Senate has debated, that party platforms have discussed and that voters in swing states such as Ohio and Wisconsin take very seriously.

Romney’s recently released tax returns made it clear that he and his accountant are quite familiar with navigating the tax code. Romney should know that the law currently allows a company that closes its American plant and moves manufacturing operations overseas to deduct that moving expense. The New York Times says, "It is true."

Reuters writes that there really are "deductions allowed for a company if it closes its plant in the United States and moves it to another country.” The conservative Boston Herald declared Romney's statement a "huge gaffe." Even Fox News’s fact check admits that US companies "can claim a deduction for the costs associated with moving jobs overseas." The only real question is why Republicans recently blocked a Democratic bill that would have provided a tax credit to companies that move jobs back to the United States and ended tax breaks for companies moving operations overseas.

The Boston Herald called this a "huge gaffe," saying that Romney's "implication was clear: I ought to know. Experts tell the Herald that many corporate relocation expenses are tax-deductible and companies can take the deductions whether they move a plant overseas or just to a neighboring state ... One thing is clear from the Romney tax returns that have been made public. The former Bay State governor’s accountant is very familiar with legal ways to aggressively minimize his taxes, so despite the president’s skepticism last night, maybe Romney can find trillions in tax loopholes — even if he says he couldn’t find this one."

Obama made the issue a central theme of his post-debate speech to more than 30,000 backers on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. Recalling Romney’ record as a Bain Capitalist, Obama said, "The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But the guy on stage last night he said he’d never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Never heard of them. And he said, if that’s true, he must need a new accountant. So now we know for sure that wasn’t the real Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney is doing just fine with the accountant he already has. The man on stage last night: he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney."

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch was among the Republicans who spoke against the bill: "... there has always been a deduction allowed for a business’s ordinary and necessary expenses — and expenses associated with moving have always been regarded as deductible business expenses.  So allowing a deduction for these expenses is not the special thing. It is the rule."

Senate Republicans blocked the Democrat-led "Bring Jobs Home Act." Why?

"Unfortunately, there's a constituency in Congress that supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney lamented shortly before the legislation died, in response to a question about why, three-and-a-half years after Obama's election, the president hadn't made good on his campaign promise.

It seems Romney, Ryan and the Republican are pro-China and anti-American-worker to such an extent that they "talk the talk" but never "walk the walk" when American jobs are at stake.

Immoral Aid?  

As Hurricane Sandy threatens 50 million American with devastating floods, I am reminded of Mitt Romney's statement that it is "immoral" to borrow money to help flood victims. Romney, a former Mormon Bishop and therefore someone who should presumably understand the term, didn't call it "immoral" for the federal government to borrow billions to bail out the Olympic games, or his rich Wall Street cronies. He obviously doesn't consider it "immoral" to borrow the better part of $7 trillion dollars to rescue the super-rich and increase defense spending for things the Pentagon hasn't even requested. According to Bishop Romney, it seems the only people it's "immoral" to help are the 47% of Americans who need help the most, including flood victims, distressed auto workers, and poor girls and women who need Planned Parenthood’s help with contraceptives, family planning and preventive healthcare.

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