Mitt Romney cannot escape his record at Bain Capital. So, he might as well embrace it. Romney should deliver a major address on this topic along these lines . . .
My fellow Americans:
You have heard plenty about my previous life as a rich businessman. Yes, it’s true. I made some $250 million in our free-enterprise system, and I am proud that I did — just as Berry Gordy is proud that he produced millions at Motown and Steve Jobs was proud that he yielded billions at Apple. Like these respected and wealthy entrepreneurs, I added value, delivered products and services that people wanted to buy, and created hundreds of thousands of careers along the way.
Bain seeded Staples with $650,000. Its 1,500 stores now employ 88,000 people, who generated $25 billion in revenues last year.
Bain helped Sports Authority boom from ten stores to almost 700 outlets and 15,000 employees.
Brookstone was in “dire straits” before Bain’s 1991 investment, as Beth Healy explained in the June 10, 1994, Boston Business Journal. With Bain’s support, Brookstone grew from 94 shops to 198, hired 741 people, and tripled net sales from $95 million to $270 million between 1990 and 1999.
In addition to private money, we added our management expertise to help our portfolio companies refine, manufacture, and sell their wares. When we succeeded, we enjoyed the fruits of our labors. When we failed, we internalized our losses. (Among some 350 companies in which Bain Capital invested, only about 5 percent filed for bankruptcy. This parallels the overall economy.)
Contrast our venture capitalism with President Obama’s “venture socialism,” as Senator Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) calls it. Obama has “invested” $34.7 billion in grants, loans, and loan guarantees for “green” companies. The Energy Department boasts that this money has created 60,000 jobs. That equals $578,333 per position. This is nine times the private-sector cost.
Even worse, at least ten of these companies took your taxpayer dollars — not private capital, as with Bain — and then went broke. You surely know about Solyndra and the $528 million it flushed down a solar toilet. But have you heard about these Obama-led bankruptcies?
Raser Technologies got a $33 million stimulus grant. Its geothermal ambitions turned to steam, and it went bankrupt in April 2011.
Ener1 received a $118.5 million government grant to make electric-car batteries. It lost power last January 26.
Aptera scored a $150 million federal loan to make three-wheeled electric cars. It drove into a ditch last December 2.
Your taxes sponsored at least six similar Obama-backed bankruptcies.
And, of course, the macro-economy under Obama has fared little better, with unemployment having climbed on his watch from 7.8 percent to a peak of 10 percent before falling back to 8.3 percent today. Joblessness has exceeded 8 percent for 42 months — or three and a half years — the longest such stretch of labor pain since at least 1948.
Thus, using everything that I learned at Bain Capital, I hope to turn around another distressed enterprise: the American economy.
The growing and uplifting economy that most of us remember can rise again. The key is to starve and sedate the federal government that expanded for decades, became fat under President G. W. Bush, and then, under Obama, grew morbidly obese and openly hostile to job creators.
How, specifically, can we reverse this damage? For starters:
Repeal Obamacare — a key inhibitor to hiring and growth, according to 73 percent of small businesses that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveyed — and replace it with tax credits to help Americans buy portable health plans that they own and control. Purchasing these plans across state lines will be legal. Medical-malpractice reform will help control costs.
As just one among many examples of how Obamacare makes business managers sick, The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey H. Anderson notes that Jamie Richardson, an executive with the White Castle hamburger chain, worries about Obamacare’s $3,000 penalty for each employee whose premiums exceed 9.5 percent of their household income. Richardson calculates that this sole provision could slash White Castle’s profits by 55 percent!
“Effectively cutting our net income in half would have [a] devastating impact on the business — cutting future expansion and more job creation at least in half,” Richardson said. “Sadly, it makes it difficult to justify growing where jobs are needed most — in lower-income areas.”
An optional 15 percent flat income tax would put today’s sluggish 1.5 percent growth on steroids. So would cutting America’s uncompetitive 35 percent corporate-tax rate to 15 percent. Capping dividend and capital-gains taxes at 15 percent also would electrify business investment and expansion.
A moratorium on new regulations and a critical review of Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other impenetrable laws would slice the red tape that is strangling American companies.
An economy cannot grow without energy. Obama should indulge his anti-fossil-fuel fetish — in Chicago. Meanwhile, let’s frack for clean, abundant, domestic natural gas. Canada is eager to sell us their friendly oil. Hence, I cannot wait to lead the groundbreaking for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Freeze federal spending for one year, and then cut it 1 percent every year thereafter. Obama’s 49.7 percent increase in U.S. national debt bought Americans nothing, even as it ballooned from $10.6 trillion at his inauguration to $15.91 trillion today. Enough! Obsolete, useless, and duplicative federal agencies — such as the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — should be padlocked, their budgets vacated, and their authorizing legislation rescinded.
The real budget savings, of course, are in entitlement reform. How do we do this? Look no further than the fine work of the next vice president of the United States.
Representative Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity is a fine route to follow back to fiscal health. As my running mate proposes, current Medicare recipients and those age 55 and above can look forward to Medicare as we know it. Starting in 2023, as low-to-modest-income seniors turn 65, they will receive financial help to purchase Medicare plans tailored to their needs and tastes, not to Washington’s preferences. (This program has borne the rather puzzling name “premium support.” No one knows what that means. Let’s call it simply “insurance assistance.” Alternatively, columnist Quin Hillyer suggests “Personal Health Grants.”) In addition, while retirees and near-retirees will be left alone, optional personal accounts should be part of Social Security for younger Americans.
Medicaid recipients likewise should receive vouchers to help buy the health coverage that they like, not what bureaucrats dictate. And at some point, means-testing will assure that the wealthy do not receive more than their fair share of government benefits.
I have a secret weapon to make this entire plan succeed: the American people.
From coast to coast, industrious and innovative Americans yearn to return to work. We can inspire the world again — with our products, inventions, and ideas. First, we must pry Uncle Sam’s unaffordable, dream-crushing boots from the necks of enterprising men and women. With your help, I will liberate the spirit of American enterprise and the free people who embody it. I have maximum confidence that when Washington once again is the home of our servants and not the mansion of our masters, this republic’s emancipated citizens will reconstitute the economy, the society, and the nation that we love, remember, and miss so much.
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.