Mitt and the Money

Is Paul Ryan’s fusillade of fibs designed to protect his boss from further scrutiny on his job-creating chops?

By the time this edition of The Inlander hits the racks, we’ll be only hours away from President Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte, N.C. Will Rogers famously remarked, “I’m not a member of any organized political party: I’m a Democrat.” But I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Obama and Company won’t make the mess of their convention that Romney’s brain-trusters made of theirs.

For poor judgment, how about scheduling their slick video of Mitt Romney’s life before prime-time (missing their biggest audience) so we could instead hear from their “mystery guest.” In walks Dirty Harry, who delivers… what the hell did he deliver? Clint’s “empty chair” routine has already become a comedy classic. These people expect to run a country when they can’t even run a convention?

The night before that, we heard from Paul Ryan. The base loved him but the rest of us were left to scratch our heads. The man is obviously truth-challenged, as he even fibbed on his marathon time — by more than an hour. Here’s a partial list of Ryan’s easily busted lies and distortions:

Lie: President Obama is the “greatest threat” to Medicare.

Truth: Obama didn’t make any cuts to Medicare benefits; he made cuts to provider reimbursements in order to improve cost efficiency and extend the fiscal security of Medicare by eight years. Ryan proposed dismantling Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system, leaving millions of seniors to come up with more money to pay for care out of pocket.

Lie: President Obama didn’t save a General Motors plant in Wisconsin from closing.

Truth: Obama wasn’t even in office when the GM plant closure was announced, on Dec. 23, 2008. Ryan knew all this, as it happened in his hometown. In fact, faced with this inconvenient truth, he backpedaled earlier this week, saying he didn’t really mean that at all.

Lie: President Obama ignored recommendations of a bipartisan debt commission.

Truth: Paul Ryan led Republicans in voting down the commission’s own recommendation. So the commission never gave a report to Obama, because Ryan himself voted to kill the report before it could.

Lie: President Obama is responsible for the downgrading of the United States’ credit rating.

Truth: House Republicans, including Paul Ryan, held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to try to ransom it for trillions of dollars in cuts to social programs without increasing taxes on the wealthy by one dime. Standard & Poor’s said, specifically, “We have changed our assumption on [revenue] because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” That’s why our nation’s credit rating was downgraded.

Lie: Ryan wants to protect the “weak.”

Truth: The Catholic bishops called Ryan’s budget “amoral” because of how it would affect the “weak.”

After Clint and Marco Rubio last Thursday, we finally got Romney, who presented himself — no surprise — as a job creator who really does care about the common man.

Actually, during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, his state ranked 47th in the country in job creation. And about Bain Capital? To hear Romney recount his exploits, you would think he should be favorably compared to the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Not really. First, Gates and Jobs actually built useful products; they didn’t just do deals. And second, Microsoft employs over 94,000; Apple, 60,000. Bain? Never more than 400.

Obama has turned to both for advice, we can presume, because he figured that those two wildly successful entrepreneurs and job creators had insight to offer a president that a CEO of a small business, which mostly did deals, didn’t.

Matt Taibbi underscores the differences in his new Rolling Stone article about how the Mitt Romneys of our business world operate. They first commit a small amount of their own capital to buy in. Then they borrow the rest and take control of the company. Next they saddle the company with their debt, and wait to see what happens. If the debt load is too great for the company, they figure out a way to sell it off — even if that means laying off the workers. The proceeds always make their way to the Cayman Islands, where the ultra-rich send their money to take a vacation from taxes.

What all these “vulture capitalists” (to use Newt Gingrich’s term) know is that their fiduciary obligation is to their investors, no one else — not to the employees, not to the affected communities. Job creation is not a concern.

Does any of this mean that Mitt Romney wouldn’t make a good president? Likely it does, especially if he can’t show that he understands the broader social effects of what he did to make the gob of money he now has stashed all over the world.

It’s about here that his Mormonism kicks in. As the late Fawn Brodie wrote, Mormonism transformed the acquisition of wealth into evidence of righteous living. And I see nothing at all that would make me think Romney has ever in his life questioned this belief.

Spokane Folklore Society Contra Dance @ Woman's Club of Spokane

First Wednesday of every month, 7:15-9:30 p.m. and Third Wednesday of every month, 7:15-9:30 p.m. Continues through June 21
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About The Author

Robert Herold

Robert Herold is a retired professor of public administration and political science at both Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University. Robert Herold's collection of Inlander columns dating back to 1995, Robert's Rules, is available at Auntie's.