In his tour of Europe and the Middle East, Mitt Romney made Sarah Palin look like Madeleine Albright. He insulted his hosts in London at the Olympics by throwing a 200-pound verbal hammer into their security planning and traffic control.
He rolled into Israel and declared the Israeli health care system superior to ours, saying it saves money. Trouble is, Israel has a national health care system that has far more government involvement that President Obama’s plan that Romney vows to repeal.
And I won’t mention what a Romney aide shouted at reporters in Poland, when they dared to ask him questions as he left a site for fallen Polish soldiers.
What’s that? Meanwhile, Romney decided to exploit something the president said: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
What matters is what you think “that” refers to.
Romney and supporters have chosen to believe it refers to “a business.” However, right before the president said it, he said (italics mine): “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.” Then he said: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Meaning the things in italic, above.
Romney’s attempt to say businesses start and thrive without government help is wrong on three counts.
Hypocrisy, Part 1. Romney used Obama’s “didn’t build that” line in a hypocritical TV spot starring a small businessman in New Hampshire, who challenges the notion that he and his father “didn’t build this company.” He did it, he says, with “hard work and a little bit of luck.” He left out the part where he got $800,000 in tax-exempt bonds from the state, plus a $500,000 loan from the federal Small Business Administration. This is supposed to be a model of going it alone?
Hypocrisy, Part 2. Bloomberg found that, while Romney ran Bain Capital, companies owned by the firm received millions of dollars in benefits from state and local governments.
Hypocrisy, Part 3. Romney personally negotiated a $10 million rescue of Bain & Co. with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Boston Globe report from 1994 showed that Bain had several million dollars in loans forgiven by the FDIC.
Slippage at home. A recent poll in the New York Times shows that Obama has climbed into the lead in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Nothing in politics happens without a reason. Bain has continued to dog Romney (note the reference to his canine on the car roof) and will likely remain a burr under his saddle (note the reference to Ann Romney’s dressage entry at the Olympics). He has to be afraid of what his 2011 tax returns will show — due Oct. 15; you can forget seeing any years’ returns before that. Desperate to change the subject, Romney handlers began leaking names of those who he might choose as vice president, although the convention is still one month away.
Dan Payne is WBUR’s Democratic analyst. For more political commentary, go to our Payne & Domke page.