New York Times columnist David Brooks is wrong about Mitt Romney, according to Matt Taibbi.
"I have a serious question for David Brooks, who is hailing Romney's Bain record. Do you know how private equity works?" Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, wrote about New York Times columnist David Brooks on Twitter on Tuesday. He continued: "I bet he doesn't have the faintest clue what companies like Bain actually do."
Romney's record at Bain has been a flashpoint during the presidential race. The presumptive Republican nominee has come under fire for shipping jobs overseas, laying off workers and squeezing profits out of companies that sometimes failed as head of the private equity firm Bain Capital.
Many critics argue that private equity firms extract wealth from companies -- sometimes causing their collapse -- rather than creating new value. But in a column this month, Brooks dismissed the costs of Romney's brand of private equity as simply part of capitalism.
In that column referenced by Taibbi, Brooks wrote that President Barack Obama represents "big government," and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney represents "capitalism." Romney's task, he wrote, is to "define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues."
"It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape," Brooks wrote of Romney. "That's his selling point: rigor and productivity."
Taibbi has become best known for his scathing criticisms of big business. In 2010, he dubbed Goldman Sachs "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money": a description that haunts Goldman to this day. Also in 2010, Taibbi wrote that Brooks works "as a professional groveler and flatterer who three times a week has to come up with new ways to elucidate for his rich readers how cosmically just their lifestyles are."
Bain Capital was among a handful of venture-capital firms that helped found Sports Authority, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-two-faces-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital/2012/01/10/gIQArYmRoP_blog.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Washington Post</em> reports.</a> (h/t: <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/228422/4-good-things-bain-capital-did-on-mitt-romneys-watch" target="_hplink"><em>The Week</em></a>)
In 1986, Bain Capital invested $650,000 into Staples, then just a start-up, reports <a href="http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-14/nation/30624519_1_buyout-firms-venture-capital-investment-firm-purchases" target="_hplink"><em>The Boston Globe</em></a>. Bain ended up investing at least $2.5 million into the firm and helped take the company public in 1989. The deal earned Bain roughly $13 million, <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/27/as_bain_slashed_jobs_romney_stayed_to_side/?page=full" target="_hplink"><em>The Globe</em> reports.</a>
Steel Dynamics, Inc.
In 1994, Bain Capital invested $18 million into the little known Steel Dynamics and helped the firm raise the remaining capital to begin production, reports <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/228422/4-good-things-bain-capital-did-on-mitt-romneys-watch" target="_hplink"><em>The National Review</em></a>. Steel Dynamics, Inc., or SDI, is now the fifth-largest U.S. producer of carbon-steel products. (h/t: <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/228422/4-good-things-bain-capital-did-on-mitt-romneys-watch" target="_hplink"><em>The Week</em></a>)
Dominos, Toys R Us, AMC Entertainment and More
Bain Capital has either bought or invested in firms such as Dominos, AMC Entertainment, Toys "R" Us, Burlington Coat Factory and Dunkin' Brands, <a href="http://www.politico.com/gallery/2012/07/6-facts-about-bain-capital/000267-003405.html" target="_hplink">Politico reports.</a>
Corporate Software Inc.
Bain Capital became a minority shareholder in Corporate Software Inc. in in 1993, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/romneys-bain-capital-invested-in-companies-that-moved-jobs-overseas/2012/06/21/gJQAsD9ptV_story_1.html" target="_hplink">reports <em>The Washington Post</em>.</a> While Bain was taking an active role in CSI -- which eventually merged with Stream International Inc. -- CSI began outsourcing customer service to call centers in foreign nations.
In 1994, Bain Capital acquired Dade International, a medical equipment company, for $27 million, <a href="http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-14/nation/30624519_1_buyout-firms-venture-capital-investment-firm-purchases/2" target="_hplink"><em>The Boston Globe</em> reports.</a> While Bain made eight-times what it invested from the deal, the business direction it set for Dade left the firm in piles of debt and temporary bankruptcy in 2002, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/us/politics/after-mitt-romney-deal-company-showed-profits-and-then-layoffs.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">reports <em>The New York Times</em>.</a> Dade Behring, as it was renamed in the mid-90s, was offered a buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company for $1.9 billion, which Bain rejected, <em>NYT</em> reports. Instead, Dade took on nearly $400 million more debt to buyout Bain's shares in 1999. While <em>The Globe</em> reports that Dade was eventually sold to Siemens for $7 billion in 2007, 1,700 people lost their jobs in the bankruptcy process.
In 1992, Bain Capital acquired American Pad & Paper LLC., or Ampad, <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/27/as_bain_slashed_jobs_romney_stayed_to_side/?page=full" target="_hplink"><em>The Boston Globe</em> reports.</a> According to <em>The Globe</em>, Bain's Ampad strategy led to acquisition of competitors that left the firm heavily in debt. While Bain yielded over $100 million from an initial investment of $5 million, Ampad was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2000. 250 workers lost their jobs and Ampad's unsecured creditors only received $330,000 of the $179 million they were owed, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/05/bankruptcy-report-on-bainowned-ampad-creditors-repaid-124072.html" target="_hplink">Politico reports</a>.
In 1993, Bain Capital became a majority shareholder of then-named GS Technologies, a firm that had been operating since 1888, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/06/us-campaign-romney-bailout-idUSTRE8050LL20120106" target="_hplink">Reuters reports.</a> While former GS Industry executives are reported to have been pleased with Bain's leadership, they believe Bain unnecessarily saddled their company with debt, installing inexperienced managers and spurring buyout offers from competitors. GS filed for bankruptcy in 2001. While Bain made $12 million off of an initial $8 million investment -- along with millions more in consulting fees -- the over 700 steelworkers who lost their jobs also lost the severance pay and health insurance they had been promised. The U.S. government also had to put in $44 million towards bailing out the firm's underfunded pension plan.