The HyperTexts

The King of Pain: Mitt Romney, Bane of Medicare

Mitt Romney wants to deny warm-blooded human beings decent healthcare, but he loves doling out money to cold-blooded corporations. Is that the kind of president you want, really?

Corporations are people, my friend ... of course they are ... human beings, my friend.—Bishop Willard Mitt Romney

But as we all know, most corporations are more like cold-blooded sharks than warm-blooded human beings ... especially private equity firms like Romney's rapacious team of cannibalistic corporate raiders, Bain Capital. As you will see if you continue reading this page, one of the world's wealthiest men accuses other Americans of wanting "free stuff" if they request affordable healthcare, when in fact Romney is the King of Free Stuff and has no compunctions about claiming billions in ill-gotten gains for himself and his super-rich Wall Street cronies. For example ...

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.

The Romneybot's Medicare Scam

Have people taken to calling Mitt the "Romneybot" because he lacks the things that make human beings human: warmth, humor, compassion, empathy, and a sense of fair play and justice? For instance, here's what Romney said recently about less wealthy Americans who want affordable healthcare:

When I mentioned [to the NAACP] 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 even if it's somehow "wrong" for less wealthy 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 resorts to highway robbery turn around and condemn average Americans for requesting justice in the form of an even break?

After all, 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. According to Corporate Crime Reporter: "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, with 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.

Also, when Romney chides the NAACP for wanting affordable healthcare, he is also insulting millions of elderly Americans of all colors and creeds, who are not asking for "entitlements" but for the U.S. government to honor the responsibilities it incurred when it deducted Medicare taxes from their paychecks. Medicare is not an "entitlement" but a compact between taxpayers and the government they fund with every penny they make (unless they are Willard Mitt Romney and can avoid income taxes by setting up shell corporations in tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands).

Mr. "Free Stuff"

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 to a real conservative for a change:

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 Israelis, in return for Romney selling his fellow citizens down the river?

Romney's Mentors

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 mere 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 ...

Mr. Flip Flop

Is Willard Mitt Romney a liberal, a conservative, or a moderate? Or is he the Unholy Trinity of American politics? The simple truth is that no one really knows what Romney believes, or would do as president. We have, however, learned a few things about Romney's character, through his actions:

• Romney was not a venture capitalist, but a vulture capitalist and corporate raider.
• Romney did not "create" jobs, in sum, but fired thousands of people, outsourcing large numbers of American jobs to foreign countries.
• In fact, Romney's companies were pioneers of such job "off-shoring" according to the Washington Post and other reputable news services.
• Romney loaded American companies with massive debts, so that they could pay him massive dividends before they went under.
• Romney has called it "simply immoral" to borrow money to help flood victims, but has no problem bailing out his rich Wall Street cronies.
• While Romney crows about American exceptionalism, he relies on banks and shell corporations on tiny, insecure Caribbean islands ...
• According to major news services, Romney may have up to $100 million sheltered in Bermuda and Cayman Island "IRAs," safe from taxes.
• And yet he now hypocritically accuses Americans who ask for affordable healthcare of wanting "free stuff," when he is the King of Free Stuff.
• Romney only "saved" the Olympics with the help of a huge bailout from U.S. taxpayers (i.e., we saved the Olympics and Romney took the credit).
• Romney then insulted all England by suggesting that only he could successfully organize an Olympics, casting the only shadow on the games.
• Romney was a bully in school (one of his classmates compared him to The Lord of the Flies). Now he wants to bully Iran, starting another war ...

But here's what we do know: On the most important issues that Romney has addressed clearly and consistently, he is dead wrong.. He is wrong about attacking Iran for the same highly dubious reason that we attacked Iraq. He is wrong about giving the super-rich 1% more tax cuts, while raising taxes for the other 99%. He is wrong about spending $8 trillion on more military buildups, if that means ripping apart the safety nets of retirees who contributed to Social Security and Medicare all their working lives. He is wrong about giving billions to his rich cronies in Israel, so that Israelis can have universal healthcare, if that means denying affordable healthcare to Americans. He is wrong about not disclosing his tax returns to American voters, so that we can be sure that he paid more taxes than we did.

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.

"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 “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. Please excuse me for not applauding. 

And yet Romney called the 42-year-old policy wonk the Republican Party's "intellectual leader."

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 recession.”

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 fascist ideas. 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 American Century.
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 world.
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 our place.
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 obvious similarities:

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 administration."

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 Theory"
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 the case." 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 Hollywood."

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.

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 Daily News." 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 Domino's Pizza.

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 the sole shareholder and chief executive of Bain funds used in corporate takeovers and other investment deals, according to the AP and Fox News.

Outsourcing Pioneer

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 early 1999.

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: "During the 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 company."

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, Part II

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 it too.

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 of] most 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 raiders."

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" Part II

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.

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 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 "success" stories.

"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 [presidential] candidate."

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 taxes in 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 usually-confident Romney 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 see ...

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!"

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 Royce ...

Romney Quotes

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 article:

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 first drafted."

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 pun).

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 prowess.

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 worrying story."

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 friend.—Mitt Romney

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 nations?

I would repeal Obamacare.—Mitt Romney

But "Obamacare" is obviously modeled after Romney's own health care plan, Romneycare. As 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 Washington.—Mitt Romney

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 added.

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 the GOP.

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 Votes

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 obviously real, 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 large numbers.

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 animals.

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 Huffington Post 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 School.

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 this issue.

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 & Taft.

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 Obama.

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