Former Obama official: Romney wrong to tout job creation
May 23rd, 2012
10:57 AM ET
3 years ago

Former Obama official: Romney wrong to tout job creation

(CNN) – Piling on to the debate over Mitt Romney's private equity career, the president's former "car czar" Steve Rattner penned an op-ed Wednesday criticizing Romney's job creation claims.

"Adding jobs was never Mitt Romney's private sector agenda, and it's appropriate to question his ability to do so," Rattner wrote in the New York Times.

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Earlier this week, President Barack Obama chided Romney for using his former experience heading Bain Capital, a private equity firm, as a major sticking point for his candidacy. While the financial industry is a legitimate part of the free market, Obama said, maximizing profits is not the only skill set needed for the Oval Office.

In the op-ed Wednesday, Rattner said the president "struck the right balance" in his remarks and went further in the criticism, particularly zeroing in on Romney's argument that he helped create thousands of jobs at Bain.

A former private equity investor himself, Rattner said he found it misleading for Romney to try and use Bain as a way to boost his job creating credentials, saying new or lost jobs are simply a byproduct of private equity firms, not the sole purpose of their work.

"Whatever its flaws, private equity has made a material contribution to sharpening management," Rattner wrote. "But don't confuse a leveraged buyout with job creation."

On the campaign trail, Romney has pointed to Bain success stories, including Sports Authority, Staples and Domino's, and highlighted the thousands of jobs created during their growth.

But Rattner said Romney becomes hypocritical when he avoids taking responsibility for jobs that were lost.

"Although Bain Capital sold off those early investments years ago, Mr. Romney takes credit for every job ever created at every company Bain Capital invested in during his tenure – while ignoring jobs eliminated after his departure," Rattner wrote.

Rattner, who left his Obama administration post as an auto adviser, in 2009, quickly found himself in the middle of the debate last week when he said in a television interview that an Obama ad attacking Bain was "unfair" and added he didn't think there was "anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about."

Romney's campaign seized on the remark and used it in recent ads, a move, Rattner wrote in the op-ed, which made him feel "uncomfortable."

His main point, he said, was that Romney's job creation claims for political gain were fair to attack, not Bain's actions as a "leading firm" in the industry.

During the course of the campaign, Romney has repeatedly responded to questions about Bain. On Monday, he said in a statement that Obama was attacking the "free enterprise system."

"President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work," he said.

Bain Capital has also weighed into the swirling debate, releasing a statement on Monday blasting Obama's recent ads and defending the firm's successes.

"Despite political attacks that emphasize the few companies that have struggled, the facts are that during Bain Capital's ownership, revenues grew in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested," the statement read.

Also see:

Obama campaign expands Bain attack and general election ad buys

Poll: Romney takes lead in Florida

Palin endorses Utah's Hatch in Senate race

Arkansas, Kentucky primaries pose challenge for Obama


Filed under: 2012 • Jobs • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. fayse

    This election will be a repeat of the election of 1948. The very same thing that happened in 1946 happened again in 2010. The Headlines in Nov of 1948 declared the winner to be DEWEY, after all he was leading in the Polls.
    Truman = Obama
    Dewey =Romney.
    I just read a description of Dewey and they could have been describing Romney to a tee.

    May 23, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. mcskadittle

    While he was governor MA ranked 47th in job growth, there is a big difference from running a company and running a state or country

    May 23, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. rob

    When you have nothing to run on ie: miserable economy, unemployment rate over 8% for years, failed and unpopular policies etc. you make up strawmen to attack and allow the media/Dem propaganda machine to run with them regardless of the facts.

    May 23, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. SuperD

    It really does not matter. Obama is an economic idiot who knows nothing about capitalism. Listening to anyone supporting him is just the same. They make a straw man argument that the reason for Bain was to increase "Profits" not to add jobs. Again the 2 go hand in hand, profit up, demand up, demand for jobs up.

    May 23, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Myviewis

    Is this the same Steve Rattner who has worked for investment bank Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Willett Advisors LLC investment firm and his company handles billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg's billions? This is the same guy that was involved with Cablevision and has done deals with Viacom and Comcast??? He has the audacity to criticize Romney??? Has he looked at his life???? Seriously, Democrats are shameless and very rich if I say so. wow, this guy has money.

    May 23, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Common sense!

    These Obama men or should I call them women (woo/man) fold like an umbrella " ididn't say that ! I meant oh oh" mr/mrs Rattner please why can't you inform your boss its over!

    May 23, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good for Team Obama in not giving Romney any wiggle room.
    Claims to Bain fame are quickly being dispelled with facts, and if Mittens decides to fallback on his non-stellar performance as a governor,well we're proactively squashing that particular delusion of grandeur as well.

    No where to run to Mittens, no where to hide.

    Obama 2012 – Because we're serious about America.

    May 23, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Myviewis

    So Attorney General Andrew Cuomo goes after Steve Rattner to pay more severe penalties for his involvment in corruption and Rattner makes a settlement of $10 million in restitution and in 2010 Rattner settled for $6.2 million and did not deny nor admit to any wrong doing. And this guy thinks he has the right to criticize Romney and calling Romney a hypocrite in that Romney won't take responsibility for jobs that were lost????? Seriously?????? Rattner/Corruption. Hello, am I the only one troubled with Rattner.

    May 23, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Oh honestly.... Romney was in the business of trying to salvage businesses that were trying to stay alive, along with all the jobs those businesses provided. Obama is out there claiming to have saved all of the jobs at GM as well as others. What Romney did was no different than that. This is truly lame, lame, lame on Obama's part. But since they haven't created any jobs in this country in FOUR YEARS, this is the smoke and mirror show they perform.

    If this is all the lame Obama campaign has to attack Romney then they'd better pack their bags NOW.

    May 23, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Sniffit

    "But Rattner said Romney becomes hypocritical when he avoids taking responsibility for jobs that were lost. '

    As I said yesterday, Deputy Doublethink had two choices with respect to the "Bain issue," and he chose wrong:

    1. Pretend it was all gloriuos job creation and expose himself to charges of hypocrisy by forcing the issue and forcing people to essentially correct what consitutes a giant misrepresentation; OR

    2. Admit that what he was doing was sometimes an ugly business that resulted in lost jobs, decreases in promised pensions, layoffs foloowed by offering people their jobs back at reduced salaries and benefits, etc., and thereby not only take an honest approach, but also deflate the whole issue regarding hypocrisy and whether what Bain was involved in really has anything to do with "job creation."

    He chose wrong.

    May 23, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    Romney campaign doesn’t know how to fight back or they running the campaign on wrong platform

    May 23, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Keeping it Real

    The facts do not lie. The unemployment rate is at 8.1%. The reason for the drop? A half a million potential workers stopped looking for work! Our workforce rate has dropped down to 63%, the worst since 1981! Remember liberals, a rate of 4% was catastrophic under a Republican president. Oh, the hypocrisy... It's no wonder that Obama doesn't want to talk jobs...

    May 23, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @Sniffit
    He sure as hell did.
    Romney choosing wrong is the ONLY thing that he has been consistent at when it comes to calls of judgment vis-a-vis his political buy-out, er, career.

    May 23, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Ray E. (Georgia)

    So who do we have here speaking volumes of Wisdom. Mr. Peepers? Free Enterprise dosen't work in a vaccum. It only works when a company is sucessful and that takes Labor and Management. You need good Labor and good management. Mayor Booker spoke volumes in one sentance. Adding Jobs was never Romney's Adjenda at Bain Capitol. Whet World is this Spoksman living in?? You can only sell Snake Oil for so long an then people stop buying it. They gave it the Heave Ho in the 2010 Congressional Elections. I suspect they will finish the job in November.

    May 23, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Lizzie

    Dominican ..... Obama 2012, should it not be PRESIDENT Obama 2012? You LOVE the constant 8% unemployment rate you LOVE gas prices over $3.50 a gallon, you LOVE the payoffs to fundraisers and bundlers, in your eyes he can do no wrong.

    May 23, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Four and The Door

    Saving companies saves and creates jobs, any way you look at it. Bain was very successful at saving companies. They should make good money for those accomplishments. America is fortunate for companies like Bain Capital.

    May 23, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. ST

    The question to ask Romney is: Did he use the experience he had from governing Massachusetts and applied it at Bain Capital? If the answer is NO (as I guess), how come that he wants to use the experience he got from Bain Capital to govern the country which is the same as governing Mass. at a high level!

    May 23, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. emma

    A lot of us have figured out that Romney's claims of job creation are bogus. Why do we believe Romney would help all Americans? The data simply do not support him as showing ability to build an economy based on complex internal and external forces that affect its growth.

    May 23, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. B.

    Most people understand exactly what Romney’s intent and goals have been in his business career, making money, and that means at the expense of workers at the companies that he dealt with. His main goal at Bain was certainly not Job Creation.

    May 23, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    After what Obama and the Democrats have done to the country over the last 6 years, the reclamation project for Romney will be daunting. But he is up to the task, as he has proven it over and over. Obama has NO CLUE and has proven it over the last 4 years. He just keeps doubling down on stupid leftist gimmicks that do nothing but get us deeper and deeper in debt.

    May 23, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Myviewis

    I'm glad to see so many people are employed thanks to Bain and Bain Capital. I'm sure those people are glad not to be standing in the unemployment line next to the ex-employees of Solyndra. Yes people, our president put our money into Solyndra and they went bankrupt and fired their employees, we lost our money and yes those top management, owners, investors of Solyndra made money, they didn't stand in the unemployment line. Let's be real and true.

    May 23, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Four and The Door

    emma
    A lot of us have figured out that Romney's claims of job creation are bogus. Why do we believe Romney would help all Americans? The data simply do not support him as showing ability to build an economy based on complex internal and external forces that affect its growth.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    Why would a growing economy help all Americans? Really? Where have you been for the last 4 years? A collapsing economy hurts all Americans but it hurts the lower income earners more. They lose their jobs and their homes and big parts of their lives. That has been brutal. Mitt Romney has the experience and capability to manage the federal government so that companies are able to grow and to create jobs. American jobs. Obama is a good guy and a pleasant guy and a great family man, but his range of experience is limited to academic law and politics. No business experience. That's just not an area he is familiar with. If you have any doubt, look where America is today after over 3 years of his policies. We are where he took us. Not very far from where we started. We can do better.

    May 23, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney runs on his record at Bain as his foundation for being qualified to be POTUS. Romney claims to have created "100,000 jobs while AT Bain." Keyword in that claim is "at". Liberals have been skeptical and asked for proof or examples of what Romney did.

    So far, no one has actually offered any facts to substantiate the claim of 100,000. All that they have done is bactrack the claim down to "tens of thousands", and more recently Romney has been heard saying "thousands". Mitt Romney lied to The People and he knows it.

    These ads are not anti-capitalism or anti-Bain, as conservatives and liberals with Wall St. donors want to make the ads out to be. The ads focus on the results of Romney's actions at Bain, which was to make a profit, not create jobs.

    May 23, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Equality

    How can someone who does not accept a portion of his own country be expected to lead and solve foreign issues with people who live completely different lives than him all over the world. The government has no right to regulate or suggest how the social aspects of a person’s life should be carried out.

    May 23, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    A loss of 8 million jobs in Bush's last three years was not healthy, contrary to republicans Fox speak. A gain of over 4 million jobs in Obama's first three years without a single republican vote is awesome.

    May 23, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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