I came to be a Mitt Romney supporter by way of my anybody-but-Obama inclinations. That is no longer the case. Now I am firmly in the pro-Romney camp, and that change is the result of me taking the time to get familiar with his record, thinking about the major problems facing America today, and what he can bring to the job. Now I’m of the mind that Mitt Romney is the right man for the right job at the right time. This makes him unique in presidential politics, and offers us the compelling chance to vote our consciences, instead of for the lesser of two evils.
Words I would use to describe Mitt Romney: Moderate. Moral. Man of his word. Business acumen. Leadership skills. Political experience. No modern president of the United States can lay claim to all these descriptors, and they provide a stark contrast to what President Obama has brought to the job. These might seem like vague terms, but once I’m finished presenting the case for Mitt Romney, I think you might be inclined to agree. I’ve broken this down into the three major issues that I think take precedence over everything else in America right now: The economy, jobs, and budgets.
Mitt Romney is a good choice for the economy because of his record producing financial growth. This record extends from the time he graduated from Harvard with a dual Law/MBA degree. Shortly thereafter he went to work for Bain & Company, a management consulting company, where he worked for 7 years, from 1977-1984. There he and his peers created what was eventually called “the Bain way,” which was more than just offering advice, but actively working with companies to implement recommended changes. He became Vice President of the company one year after being hired.
In 1984, with the blessing of Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company, Romney started an offshoot of the business, the private equity firm Bain Capital. This firm would buy into companies, creating a greater stake than merely consulting on management. According to the LA Times, which hired Stanford economics lecturer Alex Gould to review Bain’s prospectus, the company averaged an 88% rate of return on investment (ROI). To put that in perspective, the current average ROI for hedge funds is 40-50%. Gould made the point that if an investor had gotten in on the ground floor with $1 million dollars in 1984 and left that money there until Romney left for the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics in 1999, the compensation payout would have been $12 billion dollars. Imagine our economy if Mitt Romney could do that for America.
But let’s look more closely at his record at Bain Capital. You’ve most likely heard the stories of factories that Bain Capital had to close down. But did you know that that Bain company successfully salvaged 80% of the troubled companies they bought into? From the NYT:
The private equity firm, co-founded and run by Mitt Romney, held a majority stake in more than 40 United States-based companies from its inception in 1984 to early 1999, when Mr. Romney left Bain to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. Of those companies, at least seven eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward, according to a review by The New York Times.
Everyone and everything can’t be saved all the time, especially in a struggling economy and with companies that have had a history of making poor choices. So while seven companies went under, 33 companies were saved, and many of their employees got to keep their jobs. On balance, I’d prefer this record over Obama’s current record.
In 1999, Romney left Bain Capital to preside over the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics. When Romney took over, the games were plagued by scandals that had rocked the world gaming community and threatened the sponsorships on which every Olympics relies to fund events. Through his leadership abilities, Romney was able to restore honor and cooperation among sponsors, gained new sponsors, closed a $370 million dollar shortfall, and successfully pulled off a memorable Winter Olympics that saw a profit of $100 million, at least $40 million of which was set aside for maintenance of the newly built Utah Olympic Park. This is an extraordinary feat considering that most Olympic games result in debts, not profits. So Mitt Romney came on board with a $370 million deficit, raised enough to spend $1.2 billion on the games, and turned a $100 million dollar profit. Imagine if he could do that for America.
In 2003, Mitt Romney became the 70th Governor of Massachusetts, one of the bluest states in the union. His governance of the state economy also suggests that Romney has what it takes to lead America back to prosperity. In his inaugural address, he said he’d bring a “lighter, more agile bureaucracy.” And he did. When he took office, the state faced a $3 billion budget deficit. Over his tenure, he eliminated $1.5 billion in debt via cuts and fee increases. This is the strategy roughly espoused by current economic thinking, except instead of fees, they’d like to see taxes raised. As a taxpaying American voter, I’d prefer to see fees increased, as fees are often voluntary where taxes are not. But he also cut spending by $1.6 billion, partly by restructuring government. Between the restructuring, spending cuts, and fee increases, Massachusetts generated $501 million in new income in his first year in office, more than any other state in the union. Midway through his first term, the state started showing surpluses for the time in decades. He did all of this with a hostile state legislature comprised of 85% Democrats. Imagine if Mitt Romney could bring these dynamics to play in Washington.
It appears as if Mitt Romney has the golden touch when it comes to smart fiscal policy and economic growth. Through careful planning, sound policy, and the ability to persuade those of an opposing view point to his side, he has created economic growth in every job he has held. Mitt Romney is the man we need to restore prosperity to our economy, and in that, most Americans can benefit.
Critics often like to tout the fact that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation under Governor Romney. But this only tells one side of the story. Mitt Romney came into office with an unemployment rate of 5.6%. But two years prior to his taking over the governorship, unemployment was almost half that, a paltry 2.8%. Like most states, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate had risen in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and stood at 6% when his predecessor, Jane Swift prepared to leave office in December of 2002 (source: See “Historical changes” table). When Mitt Romney left office, that rate had fallen to 4.6%. But under Mitt Romney’s governance, Massachusetts added more net jobs than either his predecessor or his successor. Even Factcheck.org agrees. Moreover, he improved Massachusetts’ lot from a ranking of 50th to 47th.
As to the question of whether or not Bain Capital invested in companies that outsourced jobs, the answer is yes. Some of the companies did, as have many companies that were not involved with Bain at all. In some case, it was the only way to save those companies in the economic environment of the time. Here’s how I see this issue. Outsourcing and offshoring of jobs is an unfortunate, widely practiced tool that many companies adopted to shore up their profit margin or reduce their bottom line. But Romney can no more be blamed for that paradigm shift than Teddy Roosevelt can be held accountable for the prevalence of eugenics. Eugenics was a practice Roosevelt supported, and no doubt considered in his political calculations, but he didn’t create it. Like John Maynard Keynes and Winston Churchill, who also bought into eugenics, Roosevelt merely adopted the prevailing protocols of his time. This is also true of Romney and outsourcing. And I have an intuitive sense that this is one modern paradigm that Romney will, of necessity, seek to shift.
The economic and employment impact of the 2002 Winter Olympic games is also an important indicator. Utah saw 12,600 new jobs created prior to the games, and an end count of 25,000 jobs after the games were over. Obviously, Romney is not responsible for all of those jobs, but he is responsible for turning around those games, and creating an economic environment that promulgated job growth.
In the end, Mitt Romney has a reputation as “a turnaround artist” and “Mr-Fix-It.” This is clear in every job he has endeavored to undertake. These are the skills he will bring to America’s job market. Romney’s record shows that a prosperous economy and real leadership can bring jobs back to America.
Unlike our current president, Mitt Romney has a record of actually submitting budgets on time, and that are balanced. Remember balanced budgets and what they did for our country? The only time you’ve ever seen them in your lifetime was when President Bill Clinton submitted them, and he only did so for 4 of 8 years. But perhaps you remember the prosperity that came with his eight consecutive years of budget trimming? That’s what cutting spending and living within our means can do for America. Mitt Romney excels at these two thing.
If Romney’s past is any indication, he’ll start the budget cuts by foregoing his own presidential salary. Romney has never taken a salary for any of the public work he has done, donating to charity pay for his Olympic presidency and refusing a salary for his gubernatorial term. If he chooses to go this route again, and I suspect he will, that will be an immediate savings of $1.6 million over four years. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a start, and it means the sacrificing will start at the top.
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney submitted three balanced budgets in his final three years in office, trimming a total of $500 million in spending. Currently, he is well aware that if we continue to spend at the rate we do, the debt will be 100% of GDP shortly. Some say we have passed it already. This is budget insanity, and no family can thrive under these conditions. Neither can America. According to his website, Romney says he will start with repealing Obamacare, which is scheduled to cost $1 trillion over the next ten years. He also indicates he wants a hard cap on current spending and future growth of spending. There are few other details as of now, but judging by his past record, you can expect he will attempt this behemoth task without raising taxes, by increasing fees, and by cutting spending. If he is successful in growing the economy and working to create jobs, this necessary pain can be minimized by greater new revenues from that growth.
I am glad we finally have a candidate who understands that Keynesian fiscal policy is unsustainable as it is currently practiced. What we have done since we adopted this economic approach is not implement it fully. Keynes called for borrowing in tough times and paying it back in better times. We have not, with the exception of Clinton, paid the money back during our times of economic growth. Every president since FDR has borrowed more and more, again with the exception of Clinton. Will Romney be the next president to finally pull us back from the precipice of our own destructive habits? I’m banking on it.
As I said at the beginning, the words I would use to describe Mitt Romney include “moderate, moral, man of his word, business acumen, leadership skills, and political experience.” I believe I have proved every one of those words in this essay. He’s taken a moderate’s approach to everything he’s done, and he’s been a man of his word. His business, leadership, and political experience should be evident after reading this essay. His refusal to take a salary for any of the public work he has done suggests he is a moral man, but there’s more to that story too. Not only did Mitt Romney donate his entire $1 million inheritance to charity (funding income-based scholarships at his alma mater), he donates close to 1/5th of his yearly income to charity, and tithes and additional 10% to his church. Mitt Romney spreads his wealth around.
Tell me, what’s not to like here? Mitt Romney is a proven business leader who has successfully applied his experience to the political world and who has consistently shown concern for those less fortunate than him. For all the research I’ve done, I’ve yet to find a single real scandal or evidence that suggests he is anything like what some would have us believe about the rich. He’s a rich man, for sure, a largely self-made one at that outside of his education, which admittedly was paid for in full by his family. If that’s enough to make you turn away from him as a candidate, I don’t think you can be reached with logic or reason. Romney’s record stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s. He can do things that Obama doesn’t have the imagination to tackle, and he wants to do it against a back drop of unity, not the divisive politics of the left this year.
It doesn’t matter if you identify Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other. Isn’t it time we set aside our differences and fought together for the future of this country? Mitt Romney offers us exactly that opportunity.