Obama and Romney: two different Americas

It’s not Bain’s duty to care about whether jobs are created or lost. But a plausible response to that statement is, well, do we want a guy who spent two-plus decades in the private sector not caring about whether he was creating or destroying jobs–but making jillions for himself while doing it–to be the president of the United States? Fair question. There are lots of Americans who don’t want a former community organizer as president. We’ve heard from them. But there are surely also a lot of Americans who don’t want a hedge-fund man as president. As with, say, Obama’s unconventional upbrining versus Romney’s quite conventional one, the two men represent and symbolize very different Americas.
— Michael Tomasky | The Return of Bain Capital

Photo: Chinese Space Station Transits the Sun

Chinese Space Station Transits the Sun

China’s “Heavenly Palace,” an experimental space station launched last September, sprints past the sun. French photographer Thierry Legault captured the shot of Tiangong-1 on May 11. He had to work fast, as the transit lasted just 0.9 seconds. The module, which circles the Earth at 16,500 mph, is seen passing across the solar disk not too far from the giant sunspot AR1476.

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Bunny break


Mitt Romney: Job Creator (if you count firing workers then hiring them back at minimum wage “creating jobs”)

Here’s the kind of ‘job creation’ your average social issues, gun-toting, Bible-thumping, tea partying conservative voter has been supporting all these years (and continues to support):

Is Mitt Romney really a job creator? What his Bain Capital record shows

Before Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital bought the rambling SCM factory in Marion, Ind., it was running three shifts a day, making hanging file folders and other office supplies. But on July 5, 1994, everything changed.

The new owner, American Pad & Paper, owned in turn by Bain Capital, told all 258 union workers they were fired, in a cost-cutting move. Security guards hustled them out of the building. They would be able to reapply for their jobs, at lesser wages and benefits, but not all would be rehired.

“We were told they bought the assets, not the union or the [labor] contract,” recalls Randy Johnson, who at the time worked as a machine operator and was a union shop steward. The workers – some the third generation in their families to have jobs there – eventually went on strike, and Bain closed the factory 5-1/2 months after acquiring it.

[...] “I was on the negotiating committee for the union, and we had to give up and give up until we could give no more,” Ms. Huffman recalls. “They tried to make the working conditions not very good.” AmPad began moving automated machinery out of the factory soon after acquiring it. “I think they were planning on shutting the plant down,” she says. “We were union, and they did not want that.” 

Bain Capital bought AmPad in 1992 for $5.1 million. It borrowed heavily, boosting AmPad’s debt from $19.8 million in 1994 to $443.7 million in 1995, and Bain charged it tens of millions in fees. Bain took the firm public in 1996, making tens of millions more. AmPad, still saddled with debt, filed for bankruptcy in 2000. It has since reemerged as a private firm, based in Dallas. 

Romney attempts to counter the Obama campaign’s “GST Steel” ad:

The steel mill that benefited from government largess 

Seeking to combat charges from the Obama campaign that Bain Capital extracted value from companies it purchased by firing employees and cutting benefits, Mitt Romney’s released a web video profiling Steel Dynamics, one of the companies that Bain invested in.

But as Think Progress reports, there are two problems with Romney’s portrayal of Bain’s assistance in Steel Dynamics:

1) Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported at the time (via Nexis), that Bain was just one of eight financiers for the project — hardly the lone white knight; and 

2) the video touts Romney’s “private-sector” team, the company was successful thanks, in part, to big government subsidies and grants — $37 million from the state of Indiana and DeKalb County. And as the Los Angeles Times reported in January of this year, the county even raised taxes on residents to help fund the mill.

Was there a happy ending? For Bain Capital there was. Bain walked away with a $85 million profit, financed in large part by corporate welfare.

…“The story of Bain and Steel Dynamics illustrates how Romney, during his business career, made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be ‘corporate welfare.’”

Bain invested $18.2 million in Steel Dynamics in 1994. Five years later, it sold its stake for $104 million, walking away with $85 million profit. 

So did Romney create jobs while he was at Bain Capital? If you count the jobs previously held by high-seniority workers who were laid off when their unions were busted, and whose jobs were replaced with minimum-wage-no-benefits workers, then you could probably say: sure – those were “jobs” that were “created.”

This has been a decades-long process, created and brutally enforced by the GOP, using social wedge-issues for the necessary political support, combined with an Orwellian concept called trickle-down to soothe the masses during all the union busting and off-shoring. And we hardly missed receiving decent wages with all the easy credit being shoved our way. When the new normal became lower wages here (unions are Satan’s work!) and manufacturing in other countries, then profit for profit’s sake became both the morality and the patriotic spirit of the USA. Workers were disposable and CEOs were free to pocket all the profit. And here we are today. Complain, and it’s called being jealous of other people’s success – class warfare!

This is how the middle class died. Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are just two familiar faces of that death. Fundamentalist Christians are the third.

KEEP VOTING REPUBLICAN – we’re going great!

via: Think Progress

Thirty years ago, the U.S. underwent a shift — from an economy that grew in a way that lifted all segments of society, to an economy that gives heavy preference to the wealthy. That’s the broad story of the last three decades, but as Krueger pointed out, policy has a role to play. The trend abated temporarily in the 1990s, when the country returned to an era of fairly uniform income growth distribution. That all changed for most people, and their lost income has instead trickled up the ladderRead more…

No Democrats supported the plan: tax cuts for the wealthy, austerity for the rest of us

Not one. Only 16 Republicans voted against it.

House Votes to Cut Food Stamps to Avoid Defense Reduction

The U.S. House voted to cut food stamps, federal workers’ benefits and other domestic programs to avoid scheduled reductions in defense spending.

The chamber today passed, 218-199, a plan to cut about $310 billion in spending to replace automatic defense-spending reductions that lawmakers in both parties agree shouldn’t be allowed to take effect in January.

“This plan ensures that we maintain our fiscal discipline and commitment to reducing out-of-control government spending, while making sure our top priority is national security,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican.

Democrats lined up against the measure, H.R. 5652, saying it would put too much of the deficit burden on the needy. The proposal goes to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is doomed to failure.

The Republican plan is one that “asks nothing of Mr. Exxon, that asks nothing more of hedge fund managers, but asks those who are most vulnerable in our society to share more pain,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat.

No Democrats supported the plan; 16 Republicans opposed it.

We’re ending two wars and how is it that we still need a bigger defense budget? The GOP refuses to end Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to cover all of this extra money they want to throw at the Pentagon — so (?) the most vulnerable in our country should pay for the GOP’s unwillingness to honor their prior deal on the budget?

And, in all seriousness, is it fair for Eric Cantor to say the words “out of control government spending” without naming George W. Bush?

The Austerions!

See full comic 

Morning Bunker Report: Tuesday 5.15.2012


Ralph Reed Concern Trolls Over Political ‘Dumpster Diving’ — During his Roundtable appearance on This Week, discussion turned to whether Mitt Romney’s pattern of bullying others and entitled attitude is relevant to the election at hand. [...] Reed actually had the nerve to ask who would want to serve “if they know people will be dumpster diving into your high school or prep school?” Wow, really? Because nothing says dumpster diving like half the Republican Party claiming Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, that he is really a Kenyan usurper, and the other half claiming that he’s Muslim but somehow influenced by an inflammatory Christian pastor in the church he attended for 20 years, and other assorted untrue stories they flog every damn day. Nothing says dumpster diving like pointing at his time in Indonesia as a time where he was indoctrinated by imams, or the nonsense they spewed just this week about how he dealt drugs in college. So here is Ralph Reed, calling a story corroborated by five independent witnesses and Romney himself “dumpster diving” while he and his band of religious thugs are largely responsible for the lies, rumors, and smears they laid upon Barack Obama for the last six years or so. Who would want to serve, indeed? — Hypocrites for Jebus

Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget and his kinder, gentler approach to ending Medicare as we know it is no more popular in 2012 than it was in 2011. Which is a problem for House Republicans who voted for it and are now running for reelection. Consider Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY-25) and the convolutions she had in explaining the Medicare vote she took at a town meeting. [...] Her defenses, in order: 1) it’s not law! We all voted for it but that doesn’t mean we actually want it to be law; 2) we’re not going to take Medicare away from you, just your children and grandchildren; and 3) the Senate will never pass it anyway, so this really isn’t a real issue to be scared of, and you shouldn’t blame me for voting to end Medicare as we know it because, even though I voted for it, it’s not going to happen and isn’t that a relief. Oh, and yeah, look over there! Obamacare! Scary! Compelling stuff. Nonetheless, it’s what the Republicans have chosen, again, to run on for 2012. So it would be a really good time for Democrats to make a campaign pledge of no benefit cuts to Medicare, or Social Security. — Daily Kos

In a column for the white nationalist site VDARE.com, John Derbyshire (who was fired from National Review recently) offers unqualified praise for white supremacy: [...] Leaving aside the intended malice, I actually think “White Supremacist” is not bad semantically. White supremacy, in the sense of a society in which key decisions are made by white Europeans, is one of the better arrangements History has come up with. There have of course been some blots on the record, but I don’t see how it can be denied that net-net, white Europeans have made a better job of running fair and stable societies than has any other group. As a reminder, this man who now openly praises a racial caste system wrote for one of the nation’s top conservative publications for nearly 12 years. — Think Progress | (Note: he’s right about one thing: a society run by white Europeans IS one of the better arrangements for white Europeans – just not anyone else.) 

UNTIL 2016: Ron Paul effectively suspends presidential campaign Supporters will focus on picking off delegates already won by other candidates. Paul has yet to make clear what he plans to do with his delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and activists planning on attending have expressed differing views and sometimes confusion as to what their goals will be heading into the event. — TPM

SHHHH! Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians on Monday during a secretive, closed-door ceremony in the state Capitol as police stood guard to keep out any uninvited political opponents of the sometimes divisive radio show host. — The Washington Post

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS————————————————————

RECALL ELECTION JUNE 5: The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has not invested heavily into the recall elections against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), according to an anonymous Wisconsin Democratic party official. [...] “We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association,” the official said. “Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support.” – Raw Story | Contact the DNC

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) is calling for JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon to resign from his position at the New York Federal Reserve Bank to acknowledge that he was in a position of trust after his company revealed that it had recently lost $2 billion as a result of bad bets on derivatives. “I’d like to see some real accountability here,” Warren told CBS host Charlie Rose on Monday. “I’d like to see Jamie Dimon, for example, resign from his position as a Class A director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.” — Raw Story

Romney donor pulls support, backs Obama, over same-sex marriage – “I feel that I no longer wish to support your presidential campaign and ask that you please return the maximum contribution that I gave to you last year,” Bill White wrote in a letter addressed to the former Massachusetts governor and obtained by CNN. “You have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and I do not support your run for president any longer,” White added. [...] White is the chairman and CEO of the New York-based consulting firm Constellations Group. He was previously the president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – the cultural and educational institution whose major presence is the floating World War II Intrepid aircraft carrier sitting on the Hudson River. White told CNN he has advocated on behalf of injured and fallen veterans for 20 years – being awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award from the Coast Guard and from the Navy. — CNN

IRONICALLY, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) says Obama is trying to ‘divide the country’ with marriage equality — Cornyn says that President Barack Obama only announced support for same sex marriage because “he can’t run on his record.” “He’s trying to raise divisive issues up to solidify his base and to divide the country,” Cornyn told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday. — Raw Story

“I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple. I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether it costs him votes or not – again, it’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being.” — Jay-Z, speaking on CNN.

image: MMFA