By DeWayne Wickham
Is the outsourcing noose tightening around ’s neck, or is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee being unfairly accused of having headed a venture capital company that put profits ahead of preserving American jobs?
The Obama campaign’s charge that , the Boston-based firm Romney founded, controlled businesses that outsourced thousands of U.S. jobs to Australia, Asia and Europe has hurt the GOP candidate, according to polls of voters in several battleground states.
But Romney, who says that as president, he’ll be the job-creator-in-chief for Americans, claims he left Bain in February 1999 to run the U.S. Olympics Committee, before the outsourcing began. The Obama campaign has countered with a television ad that says under Romney’s leadership, Bain actually pioneered the outsourcing of American jobs. Each campaign has accused the other of lying.
What’s certain is that an odor of mendacity pollutes the air of this political season. And, with so much stock being placed in this ugly war of words, the outcome of the presidential election could turn on the exposure of the fabulist in this matter.That might not be easily done. Though The Boston Globe has uncovered Securities and Exchange Commission documents that show that Bain said Romney was the company’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president” until 2002, the GOP presidential candidate says he played no role in the running of the company after 1999. His denial comes even as the newspaper uncovered a Massachusetts financial disclosure form in which Romney reported that he earned executive compensation from the firm in 2001 and 2002.
Seizing on this issue, the Obama campaign started airing some hard-hitting television ads in battleground states that appear to have chipped away at Romney’s support.
Romney’s campaign responded with a TV ad that calls the president a liar, a claim supported by The Washington Post. Its Fact Checker column concluded after examining the documents the Globe uncovered “that Romney essentially left Bain in 1999” and played no part in outsourcing U.S. jobs.
But PolitiFact.com, the Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking column, disagreed. The “exact month that Romney stepped away from Bain makes little difference,” it concluded this month. The outsourcing decisions that came after he purportedly left his firm were “the kind of move Romney and Bain expected” when they invested in companies that sought to increase their profits by moving jobs to countries with lower labor costs, PolitiFact.com said.
On this issue, Romney should cut and run. When a company says as unequivocally as Bain did that Romney was its chairman, CEO and president until 2002, it fails the laugh test for anyone to argue otherwise.
Maybe he delegated most of his day-to-day decision-making during the years he was running the U.S. Olympics Committee, but he was the captain of Bain’s ship, even if he wasn’t on the bridge. And it’s not as though he was averse to outsourcing, since the contract to produce uniforms for the 2002 Olympics team was given to a Canadian company while he was away from Bain running that operation.
When it comes to outsourcing, Romney would do well to change the subject. The more he tries to answer the Obama campaign’s attack ads, the more damage he’s going to do to his hopes of ever getting into the Oval Office without an invitation.