McDonald’s makes hamburgers, but what does Bain do? Private equity, high-yield assets . . . golly, that sounds less like Main Street lingo and more like Wall Street; less to do with the kind of business built on the virtues of making and doing, and more to do with the kind of too-clever-by-half monkey business that came close to taking out the global economy in 2008.The fact is, of course, that finance is a critical part of capitalism, and leveraged-buyout operations like Bain are right in there too. The whole business of turning around failing businesses is a vital part of our economy.
You could say that the LBO boys perform a similar service to the health care industry. Company gets sick, you send in the docs to figure out what is wrong. With diagnosis in hand you come up with a treatment plan, which may include surgery, and probably will include life-style changes and more healthy exercise.
But if you talk to an average American she just wants to "save jobs." The machinations of the turnaround artists are offensive to her. People would rather not admit to losses until actual bankruptcy. And, of course, an old-established firm is usually paying above-market wages to people that are not necessarily performing above the market.
Now that the fat is in the fire, Romney's people have to come out with a good story. They must tell us that America is in a jam and we have to take bold action to get out of the jam and get the economy moving and return to prosperity. Where would you look for someone with those talents? Why, someone that had experience trying to turn failing companies around. You certainly wouldn't expect a chap from a corrupt city machine to be of any use.
To start with, the Romney folks could make a campaign video to laugh at the "I like being able to fire people" meme. He can put his "gaffe" up and then flash a picture of President Obama. Or Harry Reid. Or Nancy Pelosi. Or the Goldman Sachs building. Or some picture that says crony capitalism or bailouts. Because America isn't going to get better until we've done some serious surgery on the body politic.
Mitt Romney needs to turn his lemons into lemonade.