“Instead of investing in America, they hide their money in Swiss bank accounts and ship our jobs to China! Swiss bank accounts never built an American bridge. Swiss bank accounts don’t put cops on the beat or teachers in our classrooms. Swiss bank accounts never created American jobs!” — Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, in his Tuesday night address to the Democratic National Convention.
She’d get along fine with the GOP billionaires and their tea party over here in America. From Think Progress:
The world’s richest woman has equated Australia’s minimum wage to “class warfare,” following her controversial article last week where she called poor workers coddled, lazy drunks. Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who inherited her $30 billion fortune and mining empire, pointed to workers who make less than $2 as a model for economic competitiveness in mining:
We must be realistic, not just promote class warfare. Indeed, if we competed at the Olympic games as sluggishly as we compete economically, there would be an outcry.
The evidence is unarguable that Australia is indeed becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export- orientated business. Africans want to work. Its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.
Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded harshly to Rinehart. “It’s not the Australian way to toss people $2, to toss them a gold coin, and then ask them to work for a day,” Gillard said. “We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions.”
Rinehart’s flawed logic draws on a popular myth among U.S. conservatives, that increasing the minimum wage would impact job and economic growth. But a significant body of research shows that higher minimum wages have no effect on employment levels.
How did it happen that inherited wealth became synonymous with hard work and “earning” it? The social-issue rubes of the Republican Party are the only ones who buy that particular message. And don’t ever think our own GOP and the Romney-backing billionaires wouldn’t love to throw $2 a day at the American worker. Those kind of profits would make their mouths water.
Look at the cat’s face in the last pic: You’re welcome.
Romney and his campaign have launched a new site touting Mitt’s private-sector experience: SterlingBusinessCareer.com. Under a section called “Fixing Businesses,” the campaign lays out the legend of Romney’s 1990 return to the consulting firm Bain & Company, describing his turnaround effort there as an “incredible success” that returned the firm to profitability “in just a year.” That is a lie. [...] Bain & Company was only rescued from the brink of collapse by the federal government. In 1993, the FDIC agreed to wipe away more than $10 million it was owed by Romney’s firm because it believed that “the company will fail if the debt is not modified.”
Why did the FDIC believe that? Because,
Bain had inserted a poison pill in its loan agreement with the banks: Instead of being required to use its cash to pay back the firm’s creditors, the money could be pocketed by Bain executives in the form of fat bonuses – starting with VPs making $200,000 and up. [...] What’s more, the bonus loophole gave Romney a perverse form of leverage: If the banks and the FDIC didn’t give in to his demands and forgive much of Bain’s debts, Romney would raid the firm’s coffers, pushing it into the very bankruptcy that the loan agreement had been intended to avert. The losers in this game would not only be Bain’s creditors – including the federal government – but the firm’s nearly 1,000 employees worldwide.
According to records, Bain’s management did take its cash reserves and distributed executive bonuses when the banks / FDIC wouldn’t forgive its debt at steep discounts. However, the amounts each executive received were redacted by Bain’s attorneys, and the Romney campaign refused to comment on whether Willard took a bonus himself. But get this:
The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain’s debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million. All told, the FDIC estimated it would recoup just $14 million of the $30 million that Romney’s firm owed the government. It was a raw deal – but Romney’s threat to loot his own firm had left the government with no other choice. If the FDIC had pushed Bain into bankruptcy, the records reveal, the agency would have recouped just $3.56 million from the firm.
[...] The debt forgiven by the government was booked as a loss to the FDIC – and then recouped through higher insurance premiums from banks. And banks, of course, are notorious for finding ways to pass their costs along to customers, usually in the form of higher fees. Thanks to the nature of the market, in other words, the bailout negotiated by Romney ultimately wound up being paid by the American people.
Even as consumers took a loss, however, a small group of investors wound up getting a good deal in the bailout. Bain Capital – the very firm that had triggered the crisis in the first place – walked away with $4 million. That was the fee it charged Bain & Company for loaning the consulting firm the services of its chief executive – one Willard Mitt Romney.
That is an incredible “success” story, isn’t it? It certainly describes a person who should be rewarded not only with the most important job in the free world, but also with the perfect position to approve another nice tax break for himself once he gets that job, right?
And it would only make sense if Bain Capital received nice, hefty consulting fee for loaning Mitt Romney’s services to America — with Mitt receiving a generous cut of that fee in his pre-negotiated retroactive retirement fund, naturally. Because if you’re voting for Mitt Romney, you might as well admit you wouldn’t be surprised by those terms — and you might as well admit his “business experience” would be a sad joke on the country if he were elected POTUS.
[Thanks to reader Johnny Roach]
If by “helped” and “liberated” you mean raped and pillaged.
Matt Taibbi presents a simple, easy to understand explanation of how Mitt Romney, through Bain Capital, became a “takeover artist” of the Gordon Gekko generation:
“Here’s how Romney would go about “liberating” a company: A private equity firm like Bain typically seeks out floundering businesses with good cash flows. It then puts down a relatively small amount of its own money and runs to a big bank like Goldman Sachs or Citigroup for the rest of the financing. (Most leveraged buyouts are financed with 60 to 90 percent borrowed cash.) The takeover firm then uses that borrowed money to buy a controlling stake in the target company, either with or without its consent. When an LBO is done without the consent of the target, it’s called a hostile takeover; such thrilling acts of corporate piracy were made legend in the Eighties, most notably the 1988 attack by notorious corporate raiders Kohlberg Kravis Roberts against RJR Nabisco, a deal memorialized in the bookBarbarians at the Gate.
“Romney and Bain avoided the hostile approach, preferring to secure the cooperation of their takeover targets by buying off a company’s management with lucrative bonuses. Once management is on board, the rest is just math. So if the target company is worth $500 million, Bain might put down $20 million of its own cash, then borrow $350 million from an investment bank to take over a controlling stake.
“But here’s the catch. When Bain borrows all of that money from the bank, it’s the target company that ends up on the hook for all of the debt.
“Now your troubled firm – let’s say you make tricycles in Alabama – has been taken over by a bunch of slick Wall Street dudes who kicked in as little as five percent as a down payment. So in addition to whatever problems you had before, Tricycle Inc. now owes Goldman or Citigroup $350 million. With all that new debt service to pay, the company’s bottom line is suddenly untenable: You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level.
“”That interest,” says Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, “just sucks the profit out of the company.”
“Fortunately, the geniuses at Bain who now run the place are there to help tell you whom to fire. And for the service it performs cutting your company’s costs to help you pay off the massive debt that it, Bain, saddled your company with in the first place, Bain naturally charges a management fee, typically millions of dollars a year. So Tricycle Inc. now has two gigantic new burdens it never had before Bain Capital stepped into the picture: tens of millions in annual debt service, and millions more in “management fees.” Since the initial acquisition of Tricycle Inc. was probably greased by promising the company’s upper management lucrative bonuses, all that pain inevitably comes out of just one place: the benefits and payroll of the hourly workforce.
“Once all that debt is added, one of two things can happen. The company can fire workers and slash benefits to pay off all its new obligations to Goldman Sachs and Bain, leaving it ripe to be resold by Bain at a huge profit. Or it can go bankrupt – this happens after about seven percent of all private equity buyouts – leaving behind one or more shuttered factory towns. Either way, Bain wins. By power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up.”
After reading this excerpt above, I’d like to hear any Romney supporter explain / answer four questions: 1) how does Romney’s specific ‘business experience’ (crashing private companies to make money) qualify him to become President of the United States? 2) Exactly how did Mitt Romney “work” for the fortune he made — and why is what he did considered a “success” when only a very few benefited? 3) Would you want your employer taken over by Bain Capital? And, in your mind, 4) why does Romney, and others like him, deserve to pay less federal tax on their fortunes than the rest of us pay on our incomes?
Mark Halperin writes that “even before the convention started, there is more energy and carnival festiveness on one block of downtown Queen City real estate than there was within all of the Tampa Green Zone.”
“That difference is also reflected inside the Time Warner Cable Arena. Delegates here are listening much more closely to the speeches than their Republican counterparts did — and reacting. I have no doubt that, at least in the hall, the reception for the major speakers will be deafening.”
Also interesting: “Even the conservative reporters seem to be having more fun here than they did in Tampa.”
Galleria, Milano, Italia (by BudCat14/Ross)
Galleria Milan [L254]
Inside the famous Galleria Milan. This shot was taken during a visit to Lake Como and Milan in September 2009. It is said Maria Callas often lunched in Savini’s and walked back to La Scala which is to the right, then right again and La Scala is a few minutes walk away. (By GarryBoggan)
Milan (By MarcinMonko)
Cupola – Galleria Milano
Cupola della Galleria di Milano nel perido Natalizio (By giorgiopè)
“30 million or so Americans without health insurance will be covered, making the big step back towards ‘individual responsibility’ for health care conservatives crave that much less likely. If everything the Wall Street folk like to tell us is true, the resolution the election will bring will also have a beneficial effect on markets. Even if there is no perceived ‘mandate,’ the President’s hand will be greatly strengthened in the negotiations over how to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’”
Kevin Drum: “And here’s an interesting thing: for the first time that I can remember, this means that I have a personal stake in the election. It’s not just that I find one side’s policies more congenial in the abstract, but that one policy in particular could have a substantial impact on my life.”
“The key difference is the Bush tax cuts. The primary theme of the past two years has been the Obama administration’s effort to get Republicans to accept some kind of concession from him in exchange for agreeing to tax increases. The Republican position on this has been, basically, no… But if Obama gets re-elected, then the Bush tax cuts are set to expire. In fact, after the tax cuts have expired taxes will be higher than Obama says he wants. That totally changes the debate. Now it’s about what concessions Congressional Republicans are willing to make in order to get Obama to agree to cut taxes. That’s the right shape for a bargain.”
Bottom line: “the expiration of the Bush tax cuts removes the big thing that stood in the way of grand bargains in the 112th Congress.”
Um… yes. And maybe that’s what the President means when he says Republicans may be more cooperative? Because they’ll HAVE to be? I don’t know why conservatives are acting like Obama is suddenly filled with hope that there will be sparkle fairies and rainbows and attitude readjustments in the halls of rightwing nutjob Congress — which, in response to THAT fallacy, they’re threatening things will be worse than evah! What a bunch of preschoolers.
Vote in a Congress that POTUS can work with. Put these anti-government “public servants” out of their misery. It’s that simple.
From last night, Barack, Malia and Sasha Obama watch Michelle on TV.
THIS dress — love it!
theweekmagazine: “Stunning, brilliant, moving, passionate and right. Flawless. That was a speech a presidential nominee would be proud to have given. The best speech of the conventions so far. There was an emotional arc and steel to this that was as suffused with patriotism as it was with love. Yes, I’m gushing. But gushing is what I feel. And this is live-blogging. So sue me. I’ve never heard a speech from a First Lady anywhere close to this.” —Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast
Michelle Obama’s speech, and 4 other highlights from the DNC’s opening night
…that’s what my husband stands for.
rondofanforever: The Beautiful First Lady
…When Republicans spoke of the American Dream last week, they spoke sometimes of those who had achieved greatness—Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, for instance. More often, though, they spoke of the Dream in ways that brought to mind the classic image of white picket fences and suburban middle-class life. They talked about immigrant ancestors and small businesses and hard-earned success.
There is nothing wrong with this version of the American Dream, of course—it has at times sustained this country. And yet it is a vision that suddenly seems limited and narrow when put up against the man the Republicans were attacking. Rand Paul, the Senator from Kentucky, talked about Ronald Reagan—his youth as the child of a father with an alcohol problem, his rise to the Presidency—as an exemplar of the Dream. The figure held up as a contrast to Obama, however, was the son of a governor who became a governor, and who spoke of his background by idealizing the steady, loving home he came from—more American dreaminess than the American dream. How did Romney’s story come to be coupled with scorn for the man whose election made that old canard parents tell their children, that the U.S. is a place where anyone can become President, finally seem true? He is, apparently, the enemy of the Dream, not a stunning example of its promise.
That this is so is a testament to the efficacy of the right’s attacks on Obama. They have turned his background, which he’d managed, through hard work and some shameless massaging, to mold into an asset, into a weapon to be used against him. They’ve portrayed him as a product of affirmative action, undeserving of his position—not to mention foreign and anti-American. And now they’ve successfully linked that back to the dismal economy, and his failure to turn it around.
It may be too late for Obama to fully reverse that process, but it’s not too late for him to remind Americans that his life doesn’t make him a Kenyan anti-colonialist, but the rarest kind of example of the promise of America. In 2008, when he accepted the Democratic Presidential nomination, he began by saying, “Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story, of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.” It’s time for him to tell that story again.
“The work begins anew. The hope rises again, and the dream lives on.” – Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009
Ted Kennedy (from the video): “Now [Romney] looks like he’s for minimum wage, now he looks like he’s for education reform. If we give him two more weeks he may even vote for me because those are the things I’m for.”
Josh Marshall: “I am pro-choice. Mitt Romney is multiple choice,” was the big Kennedy line from the video. I believe Alex Castellanos, on CNN, called it “eviscerating.” I should say so.
Elizabeth Warren: ”Ted Kennedy changed my life. He changed how I understood what it is that a public servant does. And I think of him in this race every single day. And I come to this convention and I think of him every single hour.”
Jamelle Bouie: In just over seven minutes, Democrats have honored a lion of American liberalism, and reinforced the image that Mitt Romney is utterly devoid of conviction. Not a bad first move.
@ezraklein: I, for one, am shocked that Democrats would inject politics into a video about politician Ted Kennedy during a political convention.
Charles P. Pierce: The video was a delightful combination of elegy and attack ad. A lot of it was taken up with clips from the debate between Edward Kennedy and Willard Romney during their 1994 Senate race in which Romney came off looking very badly. In fact, I’d forgotten how much of an obviously snippy lord of the manor type he was back in his younger days. This prompted some Twittery whining from obvious anagram Reince Priebus, as though that pipsqueak was the true custodian of Edward Kennedy’s legacy, and as though Edward Kennedy himself wouldn’t have been twice as tough in person as he was on film.
Chicago Tribune: For Duckworth, who is running in a northwest suburban district against tea party-backed freshman Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, it was the second appearance on the national stage in two consecutive conventions. The story of her rescue after the Blackhawk assault helicopter she was piloting was shot down in Iraq in 2004 provided the theme for her speech.
“In that moment, my survival — and the survival of my entire crew — depended on all of us pulling together. And even though they were wounded themselves, and insurgents were nearby, they simply refused to leave a fallen comrade behind. Their heroism is why I’m alive today,” said Duckworth, who lost both legs and partial use of her right arm in the attack.
“Ultimately that is what this election is about,” said Duckworth, who drew chants of “USA! USA!” “It’s about whether we do for our fellow Americans what my crew did for me, whether we’ll look out for the hardest hit and the disabled, whether we’ll pull together in a time of need, whether we’ll refuse to give up until the job is done.”
(Source photo: Andrew Sullivan - A detail of the prothetic legs of Illinois nominee for Congress Tammy Duckworth as she speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. By Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.)