Those surveyed said Romney’s background in business at the private equity firm Bain Capital gives him a big advantage over Obama.
Voters who believe this would be correct if the American economy worked the same way private equity firms function. It doesn’t.
The operative word here is “private.“
When Romney was the CEO of Bain, his word was law, kind of like a dictatorship, not a democracy. It’s the way most all closely held companies work.
To the extent Romney had any constituency to satisfy at Bain, it was his investors, shareholders, bankers or other special interests that all cared about just one thing: profit.
But America is not a profit-making enterprise. Moreover, it’s composed of many different constituencies, individual voters and groups of voters, all with competing priorities and demands.
The things millions of working poor voters want, for example, are drastically different than what the two billionaire Koch Brothers seek.
So the idea that Romney’s experience at Bain is applicable to the presidency is a false equivalency.
The proof of how Romney might perform as president can be found during his stint in the public sector, when he was Massachusetts governor from 2002 to 2006.
Romney deliberately downplays his four years as the chief executive of the Bay State and for good reason. When Romney wanted something done at Bain, he snapped his fingers and it got done. When he snapped his fingers in the Massachusetts governor’s office, he quickly ran into those aforementioned constituencies.
We already know all about Romney’s convenient flip-flopping across a wide spectrum of important issues, from abortion to global warming to gun control.
Less well known is his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, when he made exactly the same promises to the voters of Massachusetts he’s making to American voters today, pointing at his Bain days as the chief reason to elect him.
He said he’d create jobs, cut taxes and reduce debt.
But when Romney left office, Massachusetts had dropped to 47th in job growth. He defends this by claiming he inherited a bad state economy, something Romney has repeatedly criticized Obama for saying.
He did cut taxes — for 278 of the wealthiest Massachusetts families. Middle class and poor families, however, got hammered when Romney instituted a backdoor tax increase, dramatically raising fees on dozens of the state services state residents routinely use.
Massachusetts marriage licenses, for example, went from $4 to $50, driving permits doubled to $30, deed recording fees jumped from $25 to $100 and firearms registration fee was hiked to $100 from $25.
Rather than reduce the state’s debt, Romney raised it $2.7 billion to $18 billion.
Romney did have one shining moment as governor. He signed the individual mandate into law, creating the incredibly successful model for Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act. Today, 98 percent of all Massachusetts residents have health insurance. Maybe ACA should be called “Obomneycare.”
Romney must have known his one term was pretty lackluster because when he left office, he made sure his office’s e-mails were removed from all state computers.
The Obama campaign will likely better acquaint voters with this history. Meantime, the USA Today/Gallup Poll did contain a couple of bright spots for the president.
By 2-1, they find the affable Obama more likable than the robotic Romney. But, more important, on honesty and trustworthiness, voters favor Obama over Romney by eight percentage points.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.