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PARKER: The Bain of truth

 

 

WASHINGTON -- When it comes to over-the-top politics, the Obama campaign has set a new standard with recent attempts to paint Mitt Romney as a felon.

This clever and utterly false allegation was advanced more than once by Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager.

During several days of media rounds that included some tough challenges -- "Felon?!" -- Cutter variously stuck to her guns, softened a bit and, finally, under relentless pressure, retracted the comment -- or at least the felony insinuation. But the fact that the campaign advanced the notion in the first place is revealing. Trying to define Romney in some criminal light was obviously a strategy and, not to leap to conclusions, suggests both desperation and a lack of any substantive criticism.

Here's how Cutter justified the original innuendo on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" when co-host Mika Brzezinski pressed her on her use of the term. IF Romney misrepresented himself on his Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings related to his tenure at Bain Capital, THEN he would have committed a crime, she said.

Sheesh. If/then: What a basis for defamation and slander. Applying that calculus, we're all guilty of somebody's random supposition. But all is fair in love and politics, right? Or don't facts matter just a little bit?

Extending fairness where none is apparently appreciated, there were a couple of facts that might have given one pause about Romney's relationship to Bain Capital after he left in 1999 to reorganize the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His name did still appear as head of Bain on paperwork between 1999 and 2002, according to The Washington Post, which could cast doubt on his assertions that he had no managerial role at Bain after 1999. But all one has to do is ask, and many did, and the answer was not confusing.

Romney was still a "passive, limited partner" with "no management capacity," according to a 2002 statement he filed with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. But his partners ran the company after Romney left -- rather hastily -- to save the Olympics. Romney's name was first floated by the Olympic committee on Feb. 2 and he accepted the challenge on Feb. 11. Nine days is hardly enough time to pack a toothbrush, much less push the paperwork necessary to hand over a multibillion-dollar business.

The purpose of the Obama campaign's allegation was to paint Romney as that modern scourge -- an uncaring corporate suit who outsources jobs and lays off workers. It is true that Bain worked with some companies that outsourced jobs to other countries -- that most common of business practices conceived not only to enhance profits but also to feed Americans' insatiable appetite for cheap goods. But all of it occurred after Romney's tenure.

Of course, the real purpose of the charge was to portray Romney as dishonest. This is what businessmen would call a hard sell, not least because Romney's assertions have been verified by independent sources, including The Washington Post. In May, the paper's Fact Checker wrote:

"We've gone over this problem with the Obama campaign before, awarding three Pinocchios to a January memo the team released blaming Romney for job losses and bad deals that took place after the former executive had stopped working for Bain. ... These facts essentially exonerate Romney from allegations that he was responsible for any outsourcing, bad deals and layoffs that occurred with Bain's companies in the early 2000s."

Thus, the Obama campaign knew that what they were saying was false but proceeded to try to plant the "felon" idea, anyway. On July 2, well before Cutter made her media rounds, fact-checkers at the Annenberg Center for Public Policy (FactCheck.org) similarly exonerated Romney:

"After reviewing evidence cited by the Obama campaign, we reaffirm our conclusion that Romney left the helm of Bain Capital when he took a leave of absence in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics -- as he has said repeatedly -- and never returned to active management. The Obama campaign's recent ads thus mislead when they point to investments made by Bain, as well as management decisions made by companies in which Bain invested, after that time."

Fair play? Dishonest? Lazy? Or just plain desperate to grab any twig as Romney inches up in the polls? It's a shame that Cutter, a smart, talented woman, was drafted for such a dastardly role. Negative ads are one thing; slander is quite another.

Email nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker at kathleenparker@washpost.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/kathleenparker.

Comments

notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

"My name is Barrack Obama and I approve of these lies."

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Why the strong desire to overlook filings with the SEC? Of course Romney could release his tax returns from 1999 through 2002 and show if he was collecting a salary as president and/or CEO. Oh, that's right, he has too much to hide and will not release the tax returns. I wish we could get away from all the negative ads on both sides. Obama has been putting up with the attacks from the right since he started running for President. McCain was at least responsible enough to condemn the worse attacks and made some effort to get it back on the issues. It is unfortunate that no one knows Romney's philosophy on the issues. Some he constantly side steps, others he has made statements on both sides at different times. The only consistency he has shown is a belief in giving the super wealthy more ways to hide their money from taxation, even though trickle down was such a horrible failure during Bush's administration.

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

Drink the koolaid. Obama can NOT run on the issues because he is an abject failure. There has NEVER been a more inexperienced person elected as president of this country and the current state of the country is a direct result of his policies. You KNOW that leaders of other countries have to be shaking their head when ever they come in contact with Obama. Our allies are probably asking what has become of the USA and our enemies are licking their chops.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

You have definitely take the Republican approach believing that by calling yourself "notblind" automatically will make people believe you have really looked at the fact. Of course intelligent people will see how you are misinterpreting the mass amount of information the refutes your assumptions. Until you do some research and open your eyes, you are not worthy of my time.

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NewsReader 2 years, 1 month ago

Why did it take him so long to disclose the simplest of requests like a birth certificate? Your President ran on a platform reminiscent of vaporware. All we heard in 2008 was "he's such a wonderful speaker" and "he is so inspirational" and all that crap. There was absolutely nothing in Obama's campaign of any substance, yet the American people voted for this pompous narcissistic windbag anyway. And that's really all he has produced ~ a bunch of hot air. Obama is a miserable failure, but then again, so are you, so we all understand how you can relate. And as a retired teacher in the publik skool system, that explains a lot!

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Get your facts straight. Obama released his birth certificate, a form legally recognized as proof of birth, date, place and parents, in June 2008. An unnecessary move since his mother being an American citizen makes him an American citizen. Only those without facts to support their opinions find it necessary to engage in childish insults. You obviously limit your news reading to fringe partisan publications.

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 1 month ago

Obama made the statement in 2008 that if you cannot run on your record then you make a "big election about small things." Seems to me, the Obama team has been focusing on some very small things, and making comments that have little foundation, if any, in fact.

Jan - Why is it that liberals seem to think the best thing for an economy is taking money from one person and giving it to another? If anything, by using government to distribute wealth you are hampering incentive and personal responsbility. Then again, we have a political party that says unemployment and food stamps are good for the economy. If that were the case, then the US would be booming if we could get everyone out of work and totally dependent on government. Bring on the cradle-to-the-grave welfare.

And even if you do make some sort of successful move in life, just remember that you didn't do that, someone else made it happen.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Strange how government spending goes up faster under Republicans than Democrats, and yet you still choose to vote for Republicans. It is not my desire to take from 1 person and give it to another. I am in favor of a fair tax code that does not give someone better tax rates simply because they did not work for their income. I do not believe in special loopholes or tax evasions schemes for the wealthy. I do believe tax rates should be set high enough to meet our obligations and not give special benefits to your corporate buddies while driving up the national debt.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

Strange indeed.

Government spending: FY 2001: just over 33% of GDP. FY 2008: 37% of GDP. FY 2009: 42.5% of GDP. FY 2012: 40.25% of GDP (est.)

Gross Public Debt: FY 2001: $7 trillion FY 2008: $13 trillion FY 2009: $15 trillion FY 2012: $19 trillion (est.)

Source: U.S. Budget History

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

Please do not try and confuse the libs with facts. They are far happier with lies that fit their agenda !

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Say_that_again 2 years, 1 month ago

You really nailed Jan on that one! How can anyone support using the "..government to distribute the wealth"? Those GIs volunteered for the military, why should we distribute our wealth for their salary? After all, they did volunteer. All roads should be toll roads so our money isn't used for roads we don't use. And don't get me started on the money that we distribute to congressional salaries and office upkeep! We collect a higher percentage of taxes from those making under $200,000 than those making over $1 million, then turn around and give grants and huge concessions to big corporations that pay little of no taxes on billions of dollars in profits. Please, lets do stop the redistribution of wealth, most of which does go to benefit corporations. In the past, we have survived with volunteer firemen. Why can't we do it again. Even law enforcement used volunteer posses instead of a large professional staff. And look at all the distribution of the wealth to prisons. We can stop that by only issuing fines and public service for criminal activity. That's all we do to corporations that violate the law. If corporations are "..people, my friend" as Romney puts it, then whats good for one set of people should be good for all people. Small businesses should not get special loan status, with loans guaranteed at government expense. If you are going to start a business, don't go looking for handouts from the government to get you started. FordGalaxy, It would be so great if only the distribution of the wealth could stop.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Jack: First, you should read again what I said. The statement was spending increases under Republicans and decreases under Democrats and does not limit the scope to only Bush and Obama, though it is also true for them. Where did you get your numbers? Here is one of my sources that clearly present the data: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/budget.php Exam the column that represents the percent of the GDP that was government spending and you should note that every time, since 1930, when a Republican took office, the percentage goes up and every time a Democrat took office, the percentage goes down - even when the previous president was of the same party. For those that are too lazy to look at the chart, it does show that Obama's spending does exceed other democrats except Roosevelt during WWII, but then he has ended 1 Bush war and bringing another under control.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

Jan- usgovernmentspending.com was my source. It shows government spending skyrocketing under Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, both D's. Granted it was during wartime, but it does show the absolutes you posture to be not entirely true. Spending went up during the first part of Clinton"s term, then fell. It went up during the first part of Reagan's term then fell. My point is that you are so absorbed with the "Dems=good, Reps=evil" paradigm, that you fail to understand that both parties are the problem, and equally so.

And I do read what you say. When you state "I am in favor of a fair tax code that does not give someone better tax rates simply because they did not work for their income.", I don't believe it's your intent that welfare recipients should pay taxes.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

That last statement is in reference to what the IRS classifies as unearned income and is taxed at only 15%, regardless of ones net income. This is a major loophole for the wealthy have a greater percentage of their income falling into this category. People that invest their money in savings accounts, stocks or bonds do not create jobs, other than a few broker positions, and yet given a major tax break for having the wealth to invest. Checked out your link, the numbers you reported all government spending, including local and state. The site does give the same numbers as my link when you check to use federal spending only. Look at the numbers again and note that EVERY time a Republican took office, spending percentage immediately went up and EVERY time a Democrat took office, spending percentage went down. You might check out the averages, and note with the neocon movement starting under Reagan how the problem of government spending without corresponding tax revenue under Republicans has really become a major problem. Romney promises more of the same failed neocon philosophy.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

The numbers I gave were for Federal spending; perhaps you misread the data. I'm sorry, but your contention that EVERY time a Dem or Rep took office this happened is flawed, unless Wilson, Roosevelt and Obama are now Republicans.

What the IRS classifies as unearned income is a loophole that is available to ANYONE. I guess I was under the false impression that money invested in the stock of a company was used by that company to keep itself viable and perhaps grow and create new jobs. I now realize the sole purpose of that is merely to provide tax breaks for the wealthy.

You ask others to read what you say. Do you read what you say?

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

You need to look again at your data. Go to your link and click below the chart on the right where it says. Click chart for briefing on Total Spending. For Spending as %GDP from 1950-2015 click here. Click to fill the radio button under the Fed column and then your data will be in line with the link I referenced.

When a company sells stock with an IPO, it is to raise money and create jobs. This is true of only a miniscule portion of investments in stock. If I buy established stock for $1 million and sell it for $2 million, that investment has not created any jobs. If, while holding that $1 million worth of stock, I am paid $100,000 dividends, that money could have been used by the company to reinvest and by giving it to me have reduced their ability to create jobs. Their is slight argument for allowing savings accounts a special tax status but the number of jobs created by the banks lending your money is small and the 15% flat tax actually hurts people struggling to save some for emergencies that are not in a 15% bracket.

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

Jan, what do you think the bank does with the money in your savings account ??? They loan it out to people that are; buying cars, buying houses, growing a business, doing a home addition, buying boats, etc etc . All these things create jobs. It's so obvious even a liberal should be able to figure this out.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes, banks loan money. Now consider who puts money into a savings account. The wealthy put a very small portion of their money into these accounts. Now we have a situation where a couple that make less than $17400 net income (this would be a gross income of $36900 assuming standard deduction - no children) are forced to pay a higher rate for their savings than their earned income. Most of the unearned income received by the wealthy is from dividends and capital gains in stock trading. You have a legitimate argument that interest earned on a personal savings account should no be taxed at all, but don't give the wealthy a break while penalizing the poor. Further, don't give the wealthy tax breaks for investments, such as the stock market, which will not create jobs, other than a very few broker positions.

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Mack711 2 years, 1 month ago

You are a stock holder in a major multi-million dollar company. You have to vote for the CEO of that company between 2 candidates. The first is a business man with experience at operating a business and company, the other is a community activist with no major experience at operating a business or a company. Which would you vote for? Most who have money invested in that company would vote for the business man. Same with the President of the United States. You may not like him but at least he has experience at business and the President must operate a business. Just look what happened to MARTA when a welfare reciepent was the CEO.

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Jan 2 years, 1 month ago

When you begin with a false premise, you come to a false conclusion. A businessman primary interest is profit, primarily for themselves. A greed mentality. A president should not favor businesses over people, should not favor the rich over the poor, should not be more concerned about keeping his personal taxes than creating a tax structure that will help everyone earn a living wage. A businessman likes unemployment, makes for a cheap labor force. High unemployment means people take jobs at lower wages and keeps the profits for the CEO bonuses. But high unemployment means more federal funds going to help this group, fewer federal funds for positive endeavors like infrastructure and education. You like Republicans, look back and tell me which successful Republican presidents were formerly business men. Not Eisenhower, he was a military leader. Not Nixon, he was a lawyer-politician. Not Ford, he went from navy to politician. Not Reagan. He was an actor. Now consider the Bush 1, after a successful business career, he became a politician in 1964 and went into the presidency with 25 years of political experience and had little success as a president. Then Bush 2, failed at business and failed as president. So why do you think being a businessman is so great? In my opinion, it presents a mindset that would be a major hindrance for someone unfamiliar with organizing people that are not dependent on you for a job.

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