The debate is on. The Obama forces and the Mitt Romney campaign are dueling back and forth with ads and heated rhetoric about Romney's record at Bain Capital.
Actually, this debate began during the Republican primary season, when Romney was eviscerated by his probusiness foes vying for the nomination. Rick Perry called the Bain approach to business "indefensible," "inherently wrong," "vulture capitalism," and Newt Gingrich called it "exploitation." So, those who are worried that the critique of Romney's role as a corporate raider is somehow a criticism of American capitalism or is somehow antibusiness should play back the Republican primary debate tapes.
Here are the fundamental questions about Romney and Bain: Did they help middle class, working families; did they create hundreds of thousands of jobs in America; was this American business at its best?
The answer, in my view, is clearly no. This is not George Romney running American Motors, this is not Steve Jobs creating Apple, this is not Ray Kroc developing McDonald's. This is Wall Street run amok, with little regard for jobs lost, pensions lost, debt piled up, lives and communities left in tatters. The sole purpose of Bain Capital was to make money, and lots of it, for themselves and their investors. It was not to rebuild companies and rebuild lives. It had nothing to do with job creation.
If this is the Romney business "experience"—thanks, but no thanks.
The scary part of the Bain experience is that we have a candidate who favors $5 trillion in tax breaks, mostly for the wealthy, while unfairly targeting middle class families. The budget and tax policies advocated by Romney and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are inherently unfair to working families and continue the shift in income and benefits to those who have prospered this past decade.
In short, the Romney platform and the Romney experience at Bain point to a potential president who delivers for the well-to-do, not those who have been hurt by the economic collapse.
So, why does Romney favor, for himself and his wealthy friends, tax breaks to put money in Swiss bank accounts and the Cayman Islands? Why does he support carried interest deductions for the wealthiest Americans that allow him to only pay 14 percent in taxes? Why will he not admit that just because he can afford the lawyers and fancy accountants does not make it right?
Romney's problem is that he is not supportive enough of real, fair, honest American capitalism—he is too tied to fast and loose Wall Street "exploitation" that got us all into this economic mess in the first place.
One can argue strongly that these money-making tactics have done far more harm than good to our economy and to American businesses over the past 20 years. That is why Bain and Wall Street excesses are so important to main street voters. That is why this debate about America's future course is so important this election year.