The Spectacle Blog

Romney: Corporate Welfare Bum

By on 1.13.12 | 12:32PM

Consider if you will what Mitt Romney had to say about welfare and dependency at CPAC in February 2008:

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960's welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven't given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug. We have got to fight it like the poison it is.

Yet during Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, he was more than happy to receive government largesse from the ample bosom of the Nanny State. Although Bain invested more than $18 million in 1994 to start up Steel Dynamics, a steel mill based in Butler, Indiana, the state and DeKalb County provided Bain with $37 million in grants and subsidies. On top of that, DeKalb County issued a tax increase to finance infrastructure improvements around the plant. When Bain sold its interest in Steel Dynamics five years later it made a cool $104 million. O.K., Steel Dynamics is still going strong nearly two decades later. So what am I complaining about? Well, how can we call this free enterprise when the taxpayer is assuming most of the risk?

Another steel company, GS Industries in Kansas City, didn't fare so well. Bain hired lobbyists who persuaded the federal government to give GS Industries a loan guarantee. However, the company went bankrupt in 2001 before the loan could be delivered. Nevertheless, Bain executives still made $50 million despite the bankruptcy. Now while it's true that Romney left Bain in 1999 to organize the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney still receives a share of Bain's profits in perpetuity so Romney surely benefited from the demise of GS Industries while its workers lost their health insurance and a significant portion of their pensions.

The question here is if one can make millions of dollars whether a company succeeds or fails then where is the risk-taking Romney speaks of so fondly? Look there isn't any evidence to suggest that Romney or Bain made their money illegally. Yet you don't have to support the Occupy movement to know that the playing field is pro-business, not pro-market. So it is disingenuous on Romney's part to decry welfare dependency as a poison to be fought when he has been more than happy to go before the government, role up his sleeve and have another form of poison injected into his arm and then come back for more. Romney is equally disingenuous to suggest that any criticism of his tenure at Bain Capital is an attack on free enterprise itself especially when he never practiced free enterprise in the first place. Mitt Romney is what I would call a corporate welfare bum.

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