The PJ Tatler

Obama Campaign Distraction of the Week: Romney Laid People Off or Something (Updated)

Last week’s rainbow warrior turns to shoddy economics this week. The Obama campaign is out with a new web video about Bain Capital and layoffs:

First problem with the ad: Bain didn’t own the company at the heart of the ad, GS Technologies, when the layoffs occurred. Romney was off saving the Olympics. So the timeline is more than a little off.

Second problem with the ad: Twasn’t capitalism that killed the company. It was the unions and their lavish, over-the-top benefits and ridiculous strikes that did it in.

I nearly choked on my Cheerios when I read that GST employees were blaming Bain for their downfall.  I worked at GST Steel in Kansas City for four months in 1997 immediately after leaving the Navy.

Why only four months?  Quickly after I started, I surprised to learn that several of my fellow USW Local 13-represented employees, mostly millwrights and electricians, we’re making between $100-130k.  This was mainly due union-mandated overtime which, at least on a few occasions, consisted of the employees bringing in sleeping bags and pillows and sleeping in the shop.  It would be hard for any company to stay competitive while paying double-time union wages to get their beauty sleep, but that’s not the half of it.  The union employees obviously didn’t think they had it easy enough, so they went on strike in March of ‘97.  The plant shut down for a couple of weeks until it re-started under the operation of management and non-union workers.  The strike lasted a couple more months.  I had a family to support, so I couldn’t afford to wait.  I took another (non-union) job with another company.  They shuttered the plant for good a few years later.

That’s Bain’s fault?  Just classic.

Another problem with the ad: Barack Obama is the real job killing king, not Mitt Romney. I don’t mean that in a generic, Obama’s policies kill jobs kind of way, even though that’s true. I’m referring to the layoffs Obama himself created by killing off auto dealerships in 2009. He killed those dealerships ostensibly to save the auto manufacturers, but many of those dealerships just happened to be owned by Republican donors. And were in red states. When the dealerships were massacred, so were the jobs that went along with them. Obama did that, and politics, not economics, drove much of what he did.

Aside: The Romney campaign would do well to bring the auto dealership closures up again. Many of those closed dealerships were family businesses that had been thriving for generations by the time Obama came along and summarily wiped them out. A video series about these closures might push the Obama campaign off the plate, and bring up some of the shady ways Obama has heaped benefits on Big Labor at everyone else’s expense.

And the final problem with the ad: In a free market, layoffs happen. It’s part of having a free market. If Obama has a problem with that, he really has a problem with economics and how the American economy works. That problem has nothing to do with Mitt Romney, and everything to do with Barack Obama’s rigid ideology.

Update: The Romney campaign cheekily responds–

“We welcome the Obama campaign’s attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record.  Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation.

“President Obama has many questions to answer as to why his administration used the stimulus to reward wealthy campaign donors with taxpayer money for bad ideas like Solyndra, but 23 million Americans are still struggling to find jobs.  If the Obama administration was less concerned about pleasing their wealthy donors and more concerned about creating jobs, America would be much better off. ” –Andrea Saul, Romney Spokesperson