For some time now, commentators have been speculating that the Obama campaign has mostly decided to back off its strategy of attacking Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. But Bain is back in force as a campaign issue, now that the Post’s Tom Hamburger has broken a story that documents in the most extensive terms yet the degree to which the company, under Romney’s tenure, invested in companies that sent American jobs abroad:
Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a 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 Obama and Romney’s GOP primary opponents have accused Romney of outsourcing before, those charges have never stuck, because they’ve been a stretch. The difference now is that this story documents the extent to which Bain — under Romney — invested in and advised companies whose specialty was helping other companies move operations overseas.
In the past, Romney has dismissed criticism of his Bain years as an assault on free enterprise itself. But that might be a trickier case to make this time, because Romney himself has criticized the impact outsourcing has had on the American economy.
It’s also worth noting that the Obama camp’s criticism of Romney’s Bain tenure isn’t just about attacking his character and biography; it’s about contrasting the two candidates' visions of the economy and job creation. Romney argues that sweeping away government and unshackling the power of the free market will lead to more mobility and broadly shared prosperity, and says his experience in making companies more efficient proves he understands how to create American jobs.
Obama says that the excesses of unfettered free market capitalism have actually harmed the American middle class; that investments and policies that make the rich richer won’t necessarily produce benefits that trickle down to American workers; and that government intervention is required to combat trends that are eroding middle class security. The Obama campaign will try to use today’s news to sharpen this contrast.
* Romney releases new wave of ads: The Romney campaign has just released new ads in Virginia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Ohio painting a picture of what Romney’s first 100 days as president would mean for each states: Repealing Obamacare, attacking the deficit, and increasing offshore drilling, all of which will (the ad claims) mean “new energy” and “new life.”
Of course, economists don’t believe repealing Obamacare and tapping more energy sources will do anything to address the short term economic crisis, and the Tax Policy Center says Romney’s plans, as laid out, will explode the deficit. Still, it’s worth asking whether the Obama campaign is doing a good enough job articulating what the first 100 days of an Obama second term would look like.
* The sick have high stakes in health care ruling: An absolute must read from the New York Times illustrating in dramatic detail what repeal of Obamacare would mean for real people who are sick or have preexisting conditions.
It’s worth reiterating that Romney, who would repeal the law completely, says he wouldn’t ban discrimination against those with preexisting conditions unless they’ve had continous coverage. And Congressional Republicans have said it’s all on the White House to come up with something new to help these people if the law is struck down.
* What FDR could teach Obama about a SCOTUS loss: Relatedly, Matt Lewis reaches back to FDR to argue that even if Obamacare is struck down in its entirety, it could renew attention on the specific reforms Dems have been championing, and put Republicans in the difficult spot of having to either support reviving them or say what they’d do instead.
Lewis’s footnote: after the court struck down a key element of the New Deal, FDR went on to get reelected repeatedly.
* How will Dems react if the mandate is tossed? An interesting point from Kevin Drum: If the court nixes the mandate, the fate of the remaining parts of Obamacare will turn partly on how aggressively Dems continue to defend the law.
* Immigration move gives Obama lift in key states: Via Taegan Goddard, a new Latino Decisions poll finds that Obama now leads Romney among Latinos in five swing states by 63-27, and the pollsters speculate that Obama’s anti-deportation announcement may be a key reason why.
The most important finding in the poll may be that Obama’s lead is even more lopsided in the southwestern battlegrounds of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico — which are key to enabling Obama to get to 270 despite expected losses in the blue-collar-white-heavy Rust Belt.
* Demographic shifts could scramble presidential race: Alex Bolton details the surprisingly pronounced growth of the Latino population in key battleground states that will decide the election, again underscoring how far reaching the impact of the two candidates’ positions (or non-positions) on immigration could prove in this contest.
* Romney and GOP governors at odds over economy: Dan Balz goes big on one of this blog’s pet topics: The tension between Republican governors, who want to highlight the recovery in their states, and Romney, whose fortunes depend on us getting the worst economic news possible. Key point:
Romney has found a way to try to meld the two seemingly contradictory messages. He says that the policies of Republican governors, in contrast to those of some Democratic governors, are helping to fix the economies of those GOP-led states, and that the federal government could benefit from a dose of the same medicine.
What this highlights, again, is the difficulty in admitting that the economy is improving in some key states while arguing that Obama gets negative credit for it.
* And GOPers distancing themselves from Paul Ryan: Denny Rehberg, the House GOPer running for Senate in Montana, is up with a new ad that distances himself from Paul Ryan, noting that he refused to vote for a “budget plan that could harm the Medicare program so many of Montana’s seniors rely on.” This affirms the Dem talking point that Ryan’s plan would be destructive to the program.
This coes after a West Virginia Congressman put out a mailer touting his vote against the Ryan budget, prompting Michael McAuliff to suggest that this may be “just the begining of an anti-Paul Ryan trend.”