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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Lux: Romney’s Role As Jobs Outsourcing Pioneer Should Hurt His Chances

This post by TDS Contributor and Democratic strategist Mike Lux is cross-posted from HuffPost, where it was originally published on June 22, 2012.
This news about Bain Capital being a pioneer in outsourcing, investing in some of the leading early companies that advised American companies in how to most effectively do it, is a pretty big deal on the face of it, but it has even deeper implications than many people realize. Being in this kind of business when the vast majority of Americans are so upset by out-sourcing is just one of Mitt Romney’s deep dark secrets that he has been trying to hide, and helps to powerfully make the case that Romney’s entire business career has been fundamentally at odds with the interests of the American middle class.
The other thing this news does is that it very likely ends the debate within the Democratic party as to whether it is okay to talk about Bain Capital’s business practices. There are still going to be Wall Street Democrats squeamish about beating up on this kind of wealthy financial company, but to defend a company that was literally a pioneer in helping American companies out-source jobs would be incredibly unpopular. Given how deeply unhappy voters are about out-sourcing, given how it generally is one of the top issues mentioned by voters in any poll I have seen over the last decade, it would be political malpractice not to attack Bain and Romney over this news, and any honest Democrat will have to understand and acknowledge that fact.
The reason this story goes so deep is that Romney’s entire political strategy is based on carrying blue collar white voters very heavily. Obama won 53 percent of the vote in 2008 while losing white working class voters by 18 percent. Even if you assume Obama doesn’t do quite as well turning out his base voters, to win this election Romney will have win that white working class demographic by at least 62-38 percent. Given how big a deal out-sourcing is to blue-collar workers, this story becomes close to a deal-breaker for Romney.
The Romney campaign’s reaction to the story is hilarious:
“This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports.” The very incoherence of the quote speaks to their strategy: try to confuse the issue, try to make it sound complicated. The problem for Romney is that this is a remarkably simple story: whether you call it out-sourcing or off-shoring (and I don’t see how the new word helps him), Romney was caring only about his company’s profits and not at all about creating jobs here in the U.S., and he saw out-sourcing jobs as a great new way to make money.
Perhaps as interesting as the story itself is the fact that after four years as governor of Massachusetts, and more than six years of his running for the presidency non-stop, even with all his talk about his business career helping him understand job creation, this is the first time we have heard about these investments. Mitt Romney is big into secrets, and is very good at keeping them. He has Swiss bank accounts, and Cayman Island accounts as well. His financial disclosure for years past has been unusually secretive in nature. He won’t say what his positions are on a whole range of critically important issues. I think we can guess why Romney tried to hide the news about his being a pioneer in out-sourcing, but why does he have secret off-shore bank accounts and so little information in his financial disclosure reports? What has he invested money in all those years that requires such skullduggery? This is as secretive a man as has run for president at least since Dick Nixon with all his dirty little secrets.
This is the candidate who said that we must only speak of issues about the concentration of wealth “in quiet rooms”. He prefers speaking about these kinds of things in quiet rooms, because to be open about how he made his money would be such an insult to the exact voters he most needs to win this election. But Romney made his incredible fortune by doing insider deals in those quiet rooms, by quietly helping companies turn a profit by out-sourcing their workers. After he made his money off these kinds of deals, he hid a great deal of it in secret Swiss and Caymans bank accounts. Is a man with these kinds of values — and these kinds of secrets — the kind of man we want to be president?

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