Village Voice April 18, 2012 : Page 18

COLUMNS “They were treated horribly,” Hewitt told The New York Times . “There was ab-solutely no concern for the employees. It conducted an interview with a Bain man-was truly and completely profit-focused.” aging partner. The man told him that Yet Bain’s molestation wasn’t com-when Bain was about to buy a company, plete. It was trying to sell Dade but didn’t its partners would hold a meeting. “He like the offers it received on the open said that about half the time [they] would market. So it created an artificial market talk about cutting workers,” Kosman of its own. says. “They would never talk about add-In 1999, it forced Dade to borrow $242 ing workers. He said that job growth was million, which was used to buy back com-never part of the plan.” pany stock from Bain, Dade executives, That claim was buttressed by the Asso-and their banker, Goldman Sachs. ciated Press, which studied 45 companies Bain was again extracting profits with bought by Bain during Romney’s first de-borrowed money. It had pushed Dade’s cade. It found that 4,000 workers lost debt to a bracing $2 billion. To help pay their jobs. The real figure is likely thou-for the deal, the company laid off another sands higher, since the analysis didn’t ac-367 workers. count for bankruptcies and factory and But that debt proved too much for store closings. Dade’s shoulders to carry. Three years An example of Romney’s cold-blooded later, the company was bankrupt. approach is his 1994 purchase of Dade In-Kosman calls it standard Romney oper-ternational, an Illinois medical-equipment ating procedure. To pump short-term company. He soon merged it with two earnings, he would essentially “starve a similar firms, a move that tripled sales. Once again, he couldn’t help but raid the company,” whacking not just employees, but also customer-service and research-vault, peeling away $100 million for him-and-development funding—the ingredi-self and investors at the same time Dade ents of long-term prosperity. was laying off 1,700 American workers. “I think they’re one of the worst, at After Bain closed a Dade plant in least during Romney’s time,” Kosman says. Puerto Rico, human-resources manager “They were very aggressive about divi-Cindy Hewitt was asked to lure a dozen of dends. They were very aggressive about those employees to work in the company’s borrowing the most money they could. Miami factory. He’s very driven to be the best he could be, But that plant soon closed as well. Al-and that was to be as cutthroat as he could though Romney was gobbling up millions, be. But in the process, he hurt a lot of com-Bain still wanted those laid-off employees panies and cost a lot of jobs, maybe tens of to repay their moving costs. 242190_4.3_x_5.4 3/19/12 4:57 PM Page 1 ➽ American Parasite continued thousands of jobs.” Kosman says it’s telling that Romney never cites companies he actually man-aged as evidence of his job-building skills. “If Romney had some stories to tell, he’d use those stories,” he says. “I think it’s very interesting that he’s not telling those stories because I think they don’t exist.” R The Welfare Queen omney’s economic views were on stark parade during this year’s Michigan primary. He ripped President Obama for bailing out the auto industry and argued that it should have been dealt with in his favorite resting place: bank-ruptcy court. He was particularly incensed that the president rescued workers’ pension funds before covering Wall Street’s bad loans. But his faith in the free market wobbles when his friends need rescuing. Romney just as vigorously defends the $10 billion government bailout of Goldman Sachs, his investment partner at Bain. After all, Romney frequently assumed the role of welfare queen himself. In 1988, he bought South Carolina photo-album maker Holson Burnes. In ex-change for the firm’s promise to build a new factory, the people of Gaffney, South Carolina, gave Bain $5 million in bonds and $200,000 in utility upgrades. The plant closed just four years later. The 100 jobs there were later shipped to Mexico. At GSI, he dumped $44 million in pension shortfalls on the federal govern-ment. And when he bought mattress maker Sealy in 1997, he took $600,000 in welfare to move the firm from Ohio to North Carolina. Even a company Romney cites as one of his greatest achievements—Steel Dy-namics, where he was a minority inves-tor—was practically launched by corporate welfare. Indiana taxpayers gave the firm $77 million to open a plant. Resi-dents of DeKalb County actually had their income taxes raised solely to help Rom-ney and his friends. Tad DeHaven calls it “theft and redis-tribution.” He’s no yammering Trotskyite; De-Haven is a former budget adviser to Repub-lican U.S. senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Yet he notes that firms like Bain often get govern-ments to subsidize their raiding parties. The feds take $100 billion a year from everyday taxpayers and send it straight to companies like Romney’s, says DeHaven, who now works for the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank. 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