In defense of Mitt Romney’s Bain record

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

As anybody who has read my work knows, I never shy away from criticizing Mitt Romney. But there are two kinds of attacks on him that make me angry: assaults on his faith and those on his wealth. Luckily, this campaign has been mostly devoid of religious-based attacks on Romney, but unfortunately, his Republican rivals have now taken a page out of the left-wing playbook and begun to attack his successful business career. It’s nothing short of disgraceful behavior from Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

After months of being either unwilling or unable to go after Romney on his liberal record in Massachusetts, including working with Ted Kennedy on the passage of a government-run health care program that was the model for Obamacare, they have decided to attack him in a way that is an assault on capitalism itself.

Ginrgich’s Super PAC has made a 28-minute video portraying Romney as a “corporate raider” for his time as head of a venture capitalist and private equity firm Bain Capital. The same phrase used by President Obama’s senior reelection advisor, David Axelrod. Yesterday, Ginrgich told reporters that he hadn’t seen the film, but suggested it would be troubling if Romney “looted” companies and fired employees. Perry joined the fray, as did Jon Huntsman, seizing on a comment Romney made that was taken so out of context even liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent came to his defense.

Romney’s rivals are engaging in the type of Marxist rhetoric that we’re used to hearing from Occupy Wall Street protesters, promoting an imaginary view of capitalism that exists only in Hollywood.

In reality, capitalism is the most moral economic system ever conceived of, because it’s the only one that’s consistent with personal freedom. Investors such as Romney pump money into businesses, and often have to cut jobs in an attempt to make them more efficient and profitable. And sometimes they fail despite their best efforts. But by cutting their losses, they have more money to invest in other businesses, and hopefully the gains outweigh the losses. In Romney’s case, he was tremendously successful overall, helping to grow businesses such as Domino’s and Staples that now employ tens of thousands of workers. In the process, he produced huge returns for his investors, who in turn had more money to invest elsewhere. However tragic the displacement of some workers was, on a net basis, companies like Bain help fuel economic growth. And there’s also no reason to believe that jobs that were lost – in steel investments, for instance – would have survived anyway. None of his rivals are accusing Romney of doing anything illegal or fraudulent in his business dealings, so it's purely an attack on capitalism. It’s sad to see them go this route.

For more on this, check out James Pethokoukis, Joe Lawler, Avik Roy and Michelle Malkin, who points out that Santorum declined to launch this kind of attack on Romney when offered the chance. Good for him, and shame on the rest of the Republican field. They’ve managed to accomplish what nothing else has in the past five years, and that’s make conservatives unite around defending Mitt Romney.

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