Friday, May 25, 2012

CEO Success = GOV Flop?

Mitt Romney likes to tell us that his time at Bain Capital qualifies him to be President.  In fact he says that his years of experience running Bain trumps Barak Obama’s experience as a community organizer and career politician.  Romney has made his time at Bain the cornerstone of his campaign.  He asserts that when Obama criticizes his success at Bain he is criticizing capitalism and the free market system.
First let’s set aside all the silliness of Romney’s claim that the President is criticizing free enterprise when he says that Romney’s time at Bain does not qualify him to be President.  What the President has clearly said is that Romney was extremely successful as a private equity manager.  He made millions for his investors and operated within the rules of commerce. But Obama rightly asserts that being President is about more than making profits.  It is about making life better not only for the big money investors but for the little guy that Bain routinely laid off in order to generate those substantial profits.  Obama says that being President is more than cutting expenses, laying off workers and flipping companies.  The President is right, because unlike in private equity situations, when you are running a country everyone matters.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Let’s return to Romney’s emphasis of his time at Bain.  What’s curious is that while Romney is more than happy to talk about his time at Bain he refuses to discuss his time as Governor of Massachusetts.  In fact when he does talk about his term as governor he mentions it as a punch line.  Just yesterday he said:  “I spent four years as Governor of Massachusetts…and I didn’t inhale.” (Pause for rim shot…ta dum, dum).  It’s as if his time away from the business sector is some sort of joke.  We doubt that the people of Massachusetts feel the same way.
The thing is most political observers view one’s time serving as governor as an excellent training ground for moving into the presidency.  Governors deal with many of the same problems that a president does: budgets, unemployment, deficits, poverty, taxes, infrastructure etc.  In terms of qualifying one to be president it would seem that the practical experience of running a state would far outweigh that of running a private equity firm. 
So why isn’t Romney telling us what a great job he did as governor? No doubt his years of experience running Bain helped him to be an outstanding governor; creating jobs, reducing the debt, increasing efficiency and bringing new business into the state…right?
Not so much!
During Romney’s term as Governor of Massachusetts the state ranked 47 out of 50 in terms of job creation.  220,000 workers fled the state in search of better employment opportunities.  And during his time there Romney increased the state’s debt by 16.4%; saddling Massachusetts citizens with the highest per capita debt in the nation. 
Running a private equity does not prepare a person for the governor’s mansion much less the White House.  At least it didn’t prepare Mitt Romney.  His record as governor makes that clear.
In spite of Mitt’s assertions that CEO Romney’s success at Bain is indicative of how he would fair in Washington; we suspect that GOVERNOR Romney’s record in Massachusetts provides a more accurate portrayal of what can expect from a Romney presidency.  


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