On the campaign trail Romney says we shouldn't ship jobs to China and should "crack down" on China trade problems. But he refuses to help or even meet with the Sensata workers whose jobs are being shipped to China right now.
Why the refusal to line up his actions with his promises? A must-read, must-read, must-read news report explains how part of Romney's $400,000/week income comes from ... get this ... shipping jobs to China!
First, the background...
Sensata -- Happening Today
Mitt Romney started the "private equity" firm Bain Capital. Bain purchases companies using "leveraged buyouts" that borrow huge sums using the purchased company's own assets as collateral, uses the borrowed money to immediately pay itself, then cuts costs by doing things like sending jobs to China, cutting wages and manipulating tax rules to cut taxes owed, along with standard big-business practices like consolidating business units, taking advantage of economies of scale not available to smaller competitors, squeezing distribution channels for price cuts and other practices that bring competitive advantages. (See "So DID Mitt Romney Really 'Create Jobs' At Staples?") After reorganizing the purchased companies Bain then "harvests" them for profit.
One company Bain Capital purchased is Sensata, a sensor manufacturer that makes key components for our automobile supply chain. Sensata then announced it is closing a factory in Freeport, Ill., and sending the manufacturing and jobs to China. (China is engaged in efforts to dominate American auto supplies. See "China Cheating Costs 400K Auto Parts Jobs" and "Why The Latest Trade Complaint Against China Matters.")
Bain/Sensata brought in Chinese workers and made the Freeport workers train them. Bain/Sensata is moving the equipment out of the Freeport factory and shipping it to China right now. The Freeport employees have set up a camp outside the factory that they call Bainport and are trying to stop the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China. Supporters were arrested this week, trying to stop those trucks.
The Sensata employees heard Romney on the campaign trail, and somehow got the idea that he opposes sending our jobs to China. So they asked him to come to Freeport/Bainport and help them. Read on to learn about Romney's response to the Sensata workers, and how Romney is actually making big money right now from shipping their jobs to China.
"The week before they came they took the American flag down outside the plant. The week after they left they put it back up."
The China Problem -- The Public Gets It
During the George W. Bush administration we lost more than 50,000 factories and at least 6 million manufacturing jobs directly to China. (Never mind the effect on the supply chains, the grocery and clothing stores where those people shopped, etc... The foreclosures, the bankruptcies, the misery...) Thanks, George!
This chart from Think Progress shows what happened to our manufacturing base immediately after Bush took office. Seriously, look at this chart and see if you can just guess why we have such a terrible economy today:
The public gets it -- the problem is China. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly -- by percentages in the 80s and 90s for Democrats and Republicans alike -- understands that a huge part of our economic troubles come from the ways we have been shipping jobs, factories and industries to China.
ABC News, from July: "'Made In America' Policies Hugely Popular, Survey Shows"
Nearly 9 out of 10 Republicans and Independents and 91 percent of Democrats said they support "Buy America" preferences, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Democratic-leaning Mellman Group.
When it comes to trade with China, the poll found that voters emphatically support tough action on Beijing's cheating on currency and other trade obligations.
Another, from a key state: "New Zogby Poll: Ohio Voters Favor Boycott of China Over Unfair Trade."
Romney Can Read Polls
One thing the Romney campaign can do is read polls. So Mitt Romney sees the polls and says he wants to do something about China.
Bloomberg: "Romney Ad Says He Will `Stand Up to China': Video"
So, on the campaign trail Romney says he will stand up to China's cheating, and opposes companies that send jobs and factories to China.
Romney Refuses To Help -- Even Talk With -- Sensata Workers
Romney wants to be president, and polls show that the public overwhelmingly wants something done about the problem of jobs and factories moving to China, and the resulting pressure that puts on the rest of us and on our economy. So Romney says he will do something about it.
But Romney's current actions are opposite his current words. He complains about China currency manipulation, but refuses to ask the Republican House leadership to bring the China currency bill up for a vote, and refuses to ask more than 60 Republican co-sponsors of that bill to sign a "discharge petition" that would force a vote.
And Romney refuses to even meet with Sensata workers. When asked if Romney would help these workers, the Romney campaign says Romney will not do it:
"Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the president being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way." -- Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman.
Why is Romney saying he wants to do something about the trade problem with China, but refusing to actually do anything about the trade problem with China? Here is one possible reason.
Romney Making Big Money From Bain Sending Sensata Jobs To China
A must-read news report today by Sharon LaFraniere and Mike McIntire in the New York Times explains. "As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties" (emphasis added, for emphasis),
Mr. Romney also has millions invested in a series of Bain funds that have a controlling stake in Sensata Technologies, a manufacturer of sensors and controls for vehicles, aircraft and electric motors that employs 4,000 workers in China. Since Bain took over the operation in 2006, its investment has quadrupled in value. Bain continues to own $2.6 billion worth of Sensata's shares.
Two years ago, Sensata bought an operation that made automobile sensors in Freeport, Ill. At the first meeting with the plant's 170 workers, Sensata managers announced that by the end of 2012 all the equipment and jobs would be relocated, mostly to Jiangsu Province. Workers have staged demonstrations, pleading for Mr. Romney to intervene on their behalf.
Chinese engineers, flown to Freeport for training on the equipment, described their salaries as a pittance compared with Freeport wages. Tom Gaulrapp, who has operated machines at the factory for 33 years, said he fears he will go bankrupt after he loses his job on Nov. 5.
"This goes to show the unbelievable hypocrisy of this man," he said of Mr. Romney. "He talks about how we need to get tough on China and stop China from taking our jobs, and then he is making money off shipping our jobs there."
So there you have it. Mitt Romney says he opposes sending jobs to China, and says he will "crack down" on China. But he refuses to do things that he could do right now that would make an actual difference right now. And it turns out that right now he is making big money from Sensata and other companies that are sending people's jobs to China right now.
Laying off American workers -- usually shipping the jobs to China -- and pocketing their wages for themselves is the story of the rise of the wealth of the 1%, and the decline of the American middle class. It is the Romney/Bain/Sensata business model. And the remaining workers have to do the jobs of the laid-off workers, often for lower pay, and are threatened with losing their jobs, too, if they don't like it.
Please read the entire New York Times report, "As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties." There is much more there about Romney, China, Bain and the huge gap between what Romney says on the campaign trail, and how Romney made his current $400,000/week income and how Bain Capital still makes its money.
Visit the Bainport blog for pictures and details about the Sensata workers who are trying to stop the Bain trucks from shipping the equipment from the factory to China.
More on Sensata:
Update: Here is a Democracy Now! report: