Obama doubles down on anti-free trade rhetoric, won't let go of outsourcing jobs issue

Anti-business, anti-free trade rhetoric continues from Obama. One is either left with the notion that Obama doesn't understand corporate finance or he is dishonest. Given that even the Washington Post and FactCheck.org understands these points and has repeatedly pointed them out, one has to lean towards the latter. With charges of felony, you would think that the press would force the Obama campaign harder to back up their claims. From the Associated Press:
An unrelenting President Barack Obama jabbed at Mitt Romney's record with a private equity firm in an ad Saturday that aimed to keep his rival on the defensive just as the Republican challenger's campaign hoped to take advantage of poor economic data to gain an edge on the incumbent.

Obama met Romney's plea for an apology for the attacks with a mocking ad that charged that the firm shipped American jobs to China and Mexico, that Romney has personal wealth in investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, and that as Massachusetts governor, he sent state jobs to India.

"Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem," the ads says as Romney is heard singing "America the Beautiful." . . .

Saturday, in Clifton, Va., Obama again tried to tie Romney to the loss of American jobs, contrasting himself with his rival.

"I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas," Obama [said] . . . . "Let's give those tax breaks that are investing right here in Virginia, right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers to make American products to sell around the world."

Romney's spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, fired back Saturday, accusing the president of being less than truthful about Romney's record.

"The American people deserve the truth and they certainly deserve better from their president," Saul said, from Boston. . . .

From Fox News:
Obama in an interview with WJLA-TV said Friday that Romney needs to better explain his tenure at Bain.

"Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president, one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations," Obama said. "But again that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign." . . .

Anderson Cooper on CNN summarizes the Obama campaign strategy this way:
Basically the Obama campaign wants to paint Romney as the greedy, out of touch rich guy, whose com BC closed factories and killed jobs just to make a quick buck. . . .
David Gergen had this statement on CNN on July 10th. When asked by Anderson Cooper if Obama was opening himself up to the charge that he is attacking success, Gergen said (3:19 into the video):
Absolutely, and you know I happen to think that the attacks on Bain capital are well off base. I know something about that company. I know something about the people who work there. I have done some work with them in the past. I was on a board that sold out to Bain Capital. . . .
Here is another statement by Gergen on July 12th:
Having said that, again, what's surprising about this is the Obama campaign is now playing a very rough form of politics. And is that really what we were promised way back when? . . .
The AP story also has this note at the end of the piece:
Bain Capital said in a statement that Romney "remained the sole stockholder for a time while formal ownership was being documented and transferred to the group of partners who took over management of the firm in 1999."
CNN reports the accusations from Team Obama of felonious conduct are simply false. John King spoke to four executives at Bain, two of whom are “active” supporters of Barack Obama and three of whom are Democrats. All four said that Mitt Romney left Bain in a rush in 1999 so as to work full time on rescuing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and that he had nothing to do with Bain after he left in February 1999. So what about the attacks on Romney by Obama claiming that Romney was still running Bain in 2000 and 2001? Well, that claim is essential to the Obama campaign ad on outsourcing. From the Washington Post on July 12, 2012:
Just because you are listed as an owner of shares does not mean you have a managerial role. . . .

Fortune obtained the offering documents for a Bain Capital Fund circulating in June 2000, as well as a fund in 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the “key investment professionals.” As Fortune put it, “the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain -- which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.” . . .

In the Massachusetts document, Romney is also listed as 100 percent owner of “Bain Capital Inc.” But there is less than meets the eye here. Bain Capital Inc. was the management firm, which was paid a management fee to run the funds and actually made virtually no profit, since it existed to pay salaries and expenses. After Romney formally left Bain in 2001, a new entity called “Bain Capital LLC” took over the management function.

By virtually all accounts, Romney was focused on the Olympics in the 1999-2002 period. Yet because Romney had not legally separated from Bain, his name is littered across Securities and Exchange Commission filings concerning Bain Capital deals during this period. The crazy quilt of private-equity structures, in some ways, makes his ownership appear even more ominous, as the filings list hundreds of thousands of shares controlled by Romney. . . .

Info from FactCheck.org is available here. Fortune's article is available here.
Moreover, unwinding a private equity firm's ownership structure is extremely complicated. The "firm" itself is largely a legal construct of convenience, since it doesn't pay salaries, make investments or do much of anything else. Instead, what matters are the individual funds.

In the case of Bain Capital's funds, it's reasonable to assume that Romney was considered a "key man," meaning that each fund's limited partners could have voted to end the fund's investment period -- or take over fund management themselves -- if a super-majority felt it prudent. But that didn't happen, and Bain saw no reason to expend massive administrative effort to amend existing funds. Instead, it asked Romney to sign documents when necessary, and made the managerial/ownership changes on new funds going forward. . . .

On July 13 the Washington Post had this:
The one thing new we saw in the Globe story was the assertion that “Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain ‘executive’ in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.” But then we realized we had already reviewed those documents in January. The 2001 form describes him as a “former executive” (see page 1 of form A-5) — the campaign says this was retirement pay — but the 2002 form says “executive.” So either you believe he suddenly rejoined the firm, after leaving it, or someone made a typo.

Romney’s sudden departure from Bain had left the partnership in flux, in fact almost breaking up the firm, and a final resolution was not reached until he ended his Olympic sojourn and decided to run for governor. At that point, he signed retirement papers that set his departure date as February 1999, the month he left for the Olympics.

Fortune magazine on Thursday reported that it had obtained the offering documents for Bain Capital funds circulating in 2000 and 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the “key investment professionals” who would manage the money. As Fortune put it, “the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.”

Still, if the Obama campaign wants to put its money where its mouth is, it should immediately lodge a complaint about Romney’s financial disclosure form, filed just last year, rather than try to mislead people about potential violations in relatively unimportant SEC documents. . . .

Obama's campaign has spent $100 million on attack ads in swing states.
President Barack Obama's campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall. In a reflection of campaign strategy, more than one-fifth of the president's ad spending has been in Ohio, a state that looms as a must-win for Romney more so than for Obama. Florida ranks second and Virginia third, according to organizations that track media spending and other sources. About three-quarters of the president's advertising has been critical of Romney as Obama struggles to turn the election into a choice between him and his rival, rather than a referendum on his own handling of the weak economy. Obama's television ad spending dwarfs the Romney campaign's so far by a margin of 4-1 or more. . . .

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