Part 3—Pensions were looted, he says: Good god!
It wasn’t enough that Ed Rendell staged that brain-jangling segment with Sharpton, picking nits and defending Mitt Romney’s looting of pension funds. (It was “legal and proper,” Rendell said. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/22/12.)
It wasn’t enough to drive the nation into a state of narcolepsy, making angels leap to their deaths from the heads of pins.
None of that was enough. Yesterday, Rendell had to criticize Obama’s ads about Bain! Just like Darling Cory!
Self-dealers of the world, unite! On Sunday, Cory Booker said the ads are “nauseating.” Yesterday, Rendell followed suit; with great sorrow, he said the ads are “very disappointing.” Peter Baker reports the boo-hooing in today’s New York Times:
BAKER (5/23/12): But the White House approach has stirred dissent in the party. Two days after Cory A. Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, called the focus on Bain Capital a “nauseating” part of campaigning, another top Democrat, former Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, added his own concerns about the attacks.None of us like negative ads! Truly, that’s world-class clowning. But in these ways, hustlers like Booker and Rendell keep the faith with their big-money friends. And the public keeps getting handed piffle concerning the work of Bain.
“I think they’re very disappointing,” he told the Web site BuzzFeed. “I think Bain is fair game, because Romney has made it fair game. But I think how you examine it, the tone, what you say, is important as well.”
Mr. Rendell praised Mr. Booker. “People in politics should tell the truth,” he said. “He could have qualified it better; he could have framed it better. But if you’re in this business, none of us like negative ads.”
What did Romney do at Bain Capital? We would love to see major journalists report this matter with more clarity. Right now, very few voters have any idea how Bain Capital worked.
More generally, very few people understand what the term “private equity” means. Very few people could explain what “private equity” firms typically do, or how they differ from other firms. Very few people could explain what a “leveraged buy-out” is. Few people could explain how a firm like Bain can make big bucks by buying a company which is in decline, then taking it into bankruptcy.
The typical voter has no idea how such endeavors work. And sure enough! As usual, our big newspapers have made little attempt to explain such matters, even as the debate about Bain has rolled forward, picking up steam.
They’ll tell you about Mitt Romney’s dog, or about his conduct in high school. But what did Romney do at Bain?
The high lady Collins won’t say! More generally, our big newspapers have little attempt to tell you.
What did Romney do at Bain? Four months ago, Reuters presented a detailed report about some conduct by Romney which just doesn’t look very good. Last night, finally! One major pundit actually seems to have read it!
E.J. Dionne appeared with Big Ed. The analysts cheered as he said it:
SCHULTZ (5/22/12): You know, Romney wants everybody to talk about the positives of Bain Capital and that's what his surrogates are saying. But is he able to answer for the pain and suffering that his businesses caused?Good God! Somebody finally said it! Pension funds got “looted,” Dionne said, using the language we’ve been suggesting for the past four months.
This is a vital part of the campaign. When you kick 350 people to the road and you take $100 million, the American people, I don’t think they—I don’t think they are compassionate to that kind of business. Is the Romney campaign worried this Bain thing is not going to go away?
DIONNE: I think so because obviously the Obama people want to turn it into a character issue and people tend not to like the boss who has fired them.
The other issue is, what do these guys do with pension funds? You know, a lot of—some of these deals, the pension funds get looted and people who were promised a pension can’t collect it. Sometimes retirees who have health care promised to them, they lose that promise.
I think this will be a challenge for journalism because not all of these details are public...I think that you need a really detailed look at Bain because Romney started out making it a big deal in the campaign. And we need to know, what did they do?
One night before, the utterly hapless Sharpton/Rendell were picking nits about numbers of jobs. Dionne actually took the discussion where rubber starts meeting the road.
Did Romney “loot” workers’ pension funds? Did the federal government have to step in to clean up after this looting? That’s what Reuters reported, four months ago, though the Rendells and the Sharptons still haven’t heard—or they’re just keeping quiet.
This Monday, in the Washington Post, Dionne was almost as tough:
DIONNE (5/21/12): [H]aving made an issue of Bain on the plus side, [Romney] also has to answer for the pain and suffering—or, as defenders of capitalism like to call it, the “creative destruction”—that some of Bain’s deals left in their wake.In his column, Dionne didn’t name Romney’s name when he talked about “sucking pension funds dry.” Nor did he really explain what he meant by that construction. Nor did he mention subsequent bailouts by the federal government.
This leads naturally to the question of how creative the destruction wrought by our current brand of capitalism actually is. Since the dawn of the leveraged buyout era three decades ago, many friends of capitalism have questioned whether loading companies with debt as part of these deals is good for companies and for the economy as a whole.
Does this approach cause unnecessary suffering among the employees of the companies in question and the communities that often lose plants and jobs as a result? Sucking pension and health funds dry to aggrandize investors seems less like a creative act than a betrayal of workers who made bargains with their employers in good faith.
But Dionne was moving in the right direction when he wrote that column. Last night, he took another large step, suggesting that Romney—omigod!—had looted some pension funds.
“Looted!” He used that word!
Did Romney “loot” workers’ pension funds? Four months ago, Reuters reported on his conduct with respect to GST, a Kansas City steel mill. “The U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp…determined in 2002 that GS [Bain] had underfunded its pension by $44 million,” Reuters reported. Reuters noted that the PBGC, a federal entity, had to bail out the underfunded pensions, though workers still lost large chunks of their pensions because of Romney’s underfunding / looting.
Romney underfunded those pensions—then Bain walked away with large profits. And the government picked up the tab!
Reuters did that report four months ago. That same week, David Cay Johnston told Schultz that there were other companies where Romney had similar problems.
But so what? From that day to this, the silly hacks we get sold as our “intellectual leaders” haven’t shown the slightest sign of wanting to explore this conduct. The Bookers and Rendells have bellowed and cried, with a hustler like Rachel Maddow trying to cover for what Booker did. (Incredibly, she continued this scam last night. More to come.) Sharpton probably has some reason for keeping his fat trap shut too.
Can we talk? In many cases, your corporate-assigned “intellectual leaders” are actually hustlers. And younger “leaders” on the way up aren’t about to tattle.
What did Romney do at Bain? Last night, Dionne broke a code of silence. He referred to the looting of pension funds! “I think this will be a challenge for journalism,” he said.
Last night, Maddow was still pretending that Darling Cory is being mistreated for what he said. In such a corporate world, will “journalism” ever tell you what Bain did?
Suckers! Unless you scream and yell and shout and insist, you don’t even stand a chance!
Tomorrow: Back to the initial theme of this week’s reports
Concerning your corporate-selected intellectual leaders: Your lizard brain says they’re on your side.
Well guess what? They aren’t on your side!