by DAVID SIROTA, Salon.com
Regardless of whether the Obama campaign’s attack ad on Bain Capital is 100-percent accurate, its overarching message — and that of similar ads – is crystal clear. As embodied by Joe Soptik’s quote, the basic argument is that Mitt Romney is a particularly bad guy for laying off workers, ruining communities and making bank as a private equity magnate at Bain Capital.
But while Romney’s bragging about his time allegedly creating jobs certainly makes the Obama assault fair, it doesn’t make that assault constructive. Yes, it might help win Obama a few votes in a single election, and it might be a reasonable way to figure out whether Romney really has created jobs, but it subtly forwards a destructive fallacy about the root of America’s economic crisis: Namely, that the problem stems from a few especially evil individuals like Romney, not from an entire system that both Romney and Obama support.
The history of this system is well-known. Thanks to a campaign finance system that allows for a legal form of bribery, our laws have been sculpted to permit private equity firms to make a handsome profit from buying up honest businesses, loading them up with debt and dumping them into bankruptcy — all while hurting workers by raiding their pensions, slashing their benefits and laying many of them off. And even using the word “permit” doesn’t reveal the whole truth because those laws don’t just allow private equity firms to do this, they essentially require such cutthroat moves if making them is the best way to maximize profits for a private equity firm’s shareholders. (Yes, executives can be successfully sued for taking actions that are not solely in the interest of maximizing profits.)