Romney’s NEW OP-ED: What I Learned at Bain Capital

Mitt Romney at Bain

Romney Economics! Investing in Companies and Creating Jobs.

The original may be found on yesterday’s Wall Street Journal editorial page.

The back-to-school season is here, and as parents take their children to shop for school supplies, I suspect that many of them will be visiting a Staples store. I’m very familiar with those stores because Staples is one of many businesses we helped create and expand at Bain Capital, a firm that my colleagues and I built. The firm succeeded by growing and fixing companies.

The lessons I learned over my 15 years at Bain Capital were valuable in helping me turn around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. They also helped me as governor of Massachusetts to turn a budget deficit into a surplus and reduce our unemployment rate to 4.7%. The lessons from that time would help me as president to fix our economy, create jobs and get things done in Washington.

A broad message emerges from my Bain Capital days: A good idea is not enough for a business to succeed. It requires a talented team, a good business plan and capital to execute it. That was true of companies we helped start, like Staples and the Bright Horizons child-care provider, and several of the struggling companies we helped turn around, like the Brookstone retailer and the contact-lens maker Wesley Jessen.

My presidency would make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the investment dollars they need to grow, by reducing and simplifying taxes; replacing Obamacare with real health-care reform that contains costs and improves care; and by stemming the flood of new regulations that are tying small businesses in knots.

My business experience confirmed my belief in empowering people. For example, at Bain Capital we bought Accuride, a company that made truck rims and wheels, because we saw untapped potential there. We instituted performance bonuses for the management team, which had a dramatic impact. The managers made the plants more productive, and the company started growing, adding 300 jobs while Bain was involved. My faith in people, not government, is at the foundation of my plan to strengthen America’s middle class.

I also saw firsthand through these investments how energy costs impact the ability of a business to grow. Today, energy costs are weighing on job creators across America because President Obama has limited energy exploration and restricted development in ways that sap economic performance, curtail growth, and kill jobs. I will take a sensible approach to tapping our energy resources, which will both create jobs and make energy more affordable for every sector of our economy.

In the 1990s, when the “old-technology” steel industry in the U.S. was failing, Bain Capital helped build a new steel company, Steel Dynamics, which has grown into one of the largest steel producers in America today, holding its own against Chinese producers. The key to its success? State-of-the-art new technology.

Here are two lessons from the Steel Dynamics story: First, innovation is essential to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. We are the most innovative, entrepreneurial nation in the world. To maintain that lead, we must give people the skills to succeed. My plan for a stronger middle class includes policies to give every family access to great schools and quality teachers, to improve access to higher education, and to attract and retain the best talent from around the world.

The second lesson is that we must have a level playing field in international trade. As president, I will challenge unfair trade practices that are harming American workers.

Running a business also brings lessons in tackling challenges. I was on the board of a medical diagnostic-laboratory company, Damon, when a competitor announced that it had settled with the government over a charge of fraudulent Medicare billing. I and fellow Damon outside board members joined together and immediately hired an independent law firm to examine Damon’s own practices.

The investigation revealed a need to make some changes, which we did. The company, along with several other clinical-laboratory companies, ended up being fined for billing practices. And a Damon manager who was responsible for the fraud went to jail. The experience taught me that when you see a problem, run toward it or it will only get worse.

That will be my approach to our federal budget problem. I am committed to capping federal spending below 20% of GDP and reducing nondefense discretionary spending by 5%. This will surely result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Washington. But a failure of leadership has created our debt crisis, and ducking responsibility will only cripple the economy and smother opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

I’m not sure Bain Capital could have grown or turned around some of the companies we invested in had we faced today’s anti-business environment. Andy Puzder, the chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., which employs about 21,000 people at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, has said that the “current unfriendly economic environment perhaps best explains why American companies are sitting on over $2 trillion which they could invest.”

President Obama has piled on excessive regulations, proposed massive tax increases, added more than $5 trillion in federal debt, and failed to address the coming fiscal cliff—all of which is miring our nation in sluggish growth and high unemployment.

I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work, to get our economy back on track, create jobs, strengthen the middle class and lay the groundwork for America’s increased competitiveness in the world.

A few comments from Paul Johnson, if you’ll indulge, about why what Mitt says is so important:

1. Mitt’s succeeded before. We have some serious problems, but Mitt has displayed an unusual ability to solve difficult issues. From his tenure at Bain, to establishing and turning around other companies, to turning around the Olympics, Mitt Romney knows success and how to replicate it. (more…)

Obama: “Since I’ve Been President, Federal Spending Has Risen at Lowest Pace in Nearly 60 Years”


I confess – I thought this headline was a joke when I first saw it.

Nope – Obama really made that outlandish claim this week in Denver, Colorado.

Once again – anyone can fact-check him at www.gao.gov/financial.html…but spending was $3.4 trillion in 2009, $4.3 trillion in 2010, and $3.6 trillion in 2011. That’s an average of $3.7 trillion/year under Obama.

Even the unprecedented spending of George W. Bush (which averaged $2.7 trillion/year) pales in comparison to the Obama administration. This isn’t funny anymore – it is pathetic. I can’t believe I’ve even dignified such an outrageous Obama lie by responding. Americans should be livid.

I don’t even think someone as capable and qualified as Mitt Romney can fix the problems America will have if an Obama administration gets another four years of outrageous, reckless, and immoral spending.

What is Mitt’s approach? First of all, Mitt doesn’t lie about a dire situation. Here’s Mitt’s approach (straight from the horse’s mouth):

Getting our fiscal house in order has become more than just an economic issue; it’s a moral imperative. Every dollar of deficit spending must be borrowed, with the bill sent to our children to pay back. As president, Mitt Romney will ask a simple question about every federal program: Is it so important, so critical, that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?See more here.

This country cannot afford 4 more years with Obama at the helm.

UPDATE
Some are defending Obama’s remarks with the claim that 2009 is a “baseline” year from which we should measure Obama’s annual spending increases…and that because 2009 is such an inflated baseline year, Obama’s remarks ‘technically’ aren’t inaccurate. Those arguments are still a very misleading way to pass blame away from Obama for some of the most significant spending increases ever. There is a very good analysis by Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, which further analyzes this from multiple angles. I disagree with Mitchell’s exclusion of spending items such as interest, TARP, defense spending, etc. from a president’s spending record – I think these are all part of the hand a president is dealt…but Dan ultimately agrees that Obama’s tugboat is still pulling America in the wrong direction.

Romney: “Prairie Fire of Debt Sweeping Our Nation”


Speaking to voters at Hotel Fort Des Moines in Des Moines, Iowa today, Governor Mitt Romney treated listeners to a powerful, plain-spoken speech on America’s federal spending addiction and our nearly incomprehensible national debt.

Prior to his appearance in Des Moines, the Romney campaign released a thought-provoking web video focusing on Iowans – “a few of the 23 million” – who are struggling under the oppressive Obama economy:

A Few of the 23 Million:

Before The Gov delivered his remarks, the Des Moines Register published an article by Jennifer Jacobs highlighting some of Romney’s remarks:

Romney speech: Prairie fire of debt doesn’t care if it’s a donkey or elephant in your lawn

A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will tell Iowans today he can douse the flames.

“That fire could care less if you have a donkey or an elephant in your front lawn, it’s still coming for your house,” Romney’s prepared remarks say, according to his campaign. “There’s plenty of blame to go around for both parties.

“But in my years leading businesses, an Olympics and a state, I’ve learned one simple principle of leadership that never falters: Leaders lead. I will lead us out of this debt and spending crisis.”

While Romney deftly blocks Obama’s fiery darts and keeps bringing the campaign dialogue back to the economy, Jacobs writes that the Obama re-election campaign is trying to “pierce” Romney’s message by running Iowa TV attack ads against the governor.

Romney intends to steer the conversation toward government spending and debt.

“President Obama started his days in office with the trillion-dollar stimulus package – the biggest, most careless one-time expenditure by the federal government in history. And remember this: the stimulus wasn’t just wasted – it was borrowed and wasted. We still owe the money, we’re still paying interest on it, and it’ll be that way long after this presidency ends in January,” Romney’s prepared remarks say.

VIDEO of Romney’s excellent speech may be viewed here.

Transcript of Romney’s remarks from Des Moines:

Thank you all very much.

It’s good to be back in Iowa. So many friends here hold a special place in my heart.

I’ve come here today to talk to you about an issue that affects the very heart of America.

Of course, Iowa is much more than a collection of beautiful farms and small towns and cities bounded by two of America’s great rivers. Iowa is a collection of the values that built America and that have sustained us through good times and bad. You know them well: hard work, taking care of our neighbors, family, faith in God and country. Common sense, kitchen table values. Not fancy, but enduring.

These aren’t the values that lead to out-of-control spending sprees, or to piling up massive amounts of debt you know your children – and grandchildren – will have to work all their lives to pay off. These aren’t the values of putting off difficult decisions with the hope that maybe someone else will solve them.

Today America faces a financial crisis of debt and spending that threatens what it means to be an American. Here in the heartland you know in your hearts that it’s wrong.

We can’t spend another four years talking about solving a problem that we know we are making worse every single day.

When the men and women who settled the Iowa prairie saw a fire in the distance, they didn’t look around for someone else to save them or go back to sleep hoping the wind might blow another direction. They knew that their survival was up to them.

A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation and every day we fail to act that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love.

This is not solely a Democrat or a Republican problem. The issue isn’t who deserves the most blame, it’s who is going to do what it takes to put out the fire.

Continue reading below the fold.

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