By Amanda Litvinov, photo by Gage Skidmore
Mitt Romney had a stronger finish in the New Hampshire primary than in Iowa, and he used the moment to fend off attacks on his record. But the level of spin surrounding his so-called qualifications for the nation’s top office is enough to leave observers reeling.
His campaign trumpets the idea that Romney “understands how the economy works” because of his private sector experience—but what exactly does leading a predatory corporate takeover firm add to one’s skill set? The ability to coldly put profits before people, time and time again.
Just ask the more than 700 steel mill workers in Kansas City who lost their jobs in 2001 after Bain took control of the plant when Romney was at the helm in the 1990s. Workers were denied the severance pay they’d been promised, and Bain made more than $8 million in the process.
Romney and his organization are fond of saying (with a sneer) that while Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, Romney was creating jobs. But there’s plenty of evidence that Romney’s job creation claims are grossly exaggerated, both in the private sector and during his time as governor of Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama grew his understanding of the American economy from several different vantage points, including years he spent organizing job training and other programs to help low income people improve their lives. As president, his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Education Jobs Act—which together saved more than 450,000 education jobs—and his proposed American Jobs Act reflect his dedication to protecting middle class jobs and education, while providing paths for Americans to improve their prospects.
In his post-primary speech last night, Romney accused Obama of dividing the American people “with the bitter politics of envy” and “resentment of success,” references to the president’s determination to address America’s wealth gap and his call for the nation’s wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share of taxes. When Romney promised “a free and prosperous land of opportunity” last night, it’s hard to believe he was talking to anyone but the nation’s most privileged. After all, he has publicly sided with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his attack on the rights of workers and is willing to play political games with the programs that protect hard-working Americans and their families.
Of course, scan a bit further down Romney’s c.v., and you’ll see the stuff he doesn’t want to talk about any more–like his work as governor to close corporate tax loopholes in Massachusetts and the health care legislation he signed into law that provides near-universal health insurance access to all the state’s residents.
Make no mistake: That Mitt Romney is not the one running for president.