By Dave Smith, Contributor to US Daily Review.
For their “Person of the Year” in 2010, Time magazine named “The Protestor”, citing among their designees the “Occupy Wall Street” anti-capitalism, anti-business protestors whose message spread around the country. It appears that at least the spirit of their grievances has found a home among the Republican aspirants for the presidential nomination and is on its way to South Carolina, home of the next GOP primary, as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have targeted Mitt Romney’s tenure with the financial services firm Bain Capital as items of scorn for potential voters.
In choosing Occupy-esque language to attack Romney’s venture capital experience from the left, Gingrich and Perry are cynically departing from what has been a fundamental plank in the Republican economic platform for years: an appreciation for private enterprise, economic liberty, and free market capitalism. In one of his first interviews following the announcement of his poor showing in the polls of the New Hampshire primary, Rick Perry described Bain’s business of leveraged buyouts and restructuring of poorly-performing companies “vulture capitalism”, accusing Romney’s firm of “killing jobs” and leaving behind “stripped carcasses” of businesses they took over. A “super PAC” associated with Gingrich called Winning Our Future produced a half-hour movie called When Mitt Romney Came to Town, which claims to detail the “greed” of Romney and his band of “corporate raiders” at Bain Capital.
Romney responded to the attacks in his New Hampshire victory speech by accusing President Obama of attempting to “put free enterprise on trial”, with some “desperate Republicans” seeking to “join forces with him”, engaging in the “bitter politics of envy” and besought with “resentment of success”. He had previously said that the attacks on his business experience at Bain were expected, just not from Republicans. The attacks made by Perry, Gingrich, and others are based on the same class warfare arguments used by Obama… and the “Occupiers”.
Romney’s experience in business and finance has been a key selling point for him on the campaign trail, as he has spoken extensively about how his private sector experience qualifies him uniquely among his competitors – particularly President Obama – to help turn around the still-anemic economy. Unfortunately for him, most people aren’t as familiar with the kind of work Bain does as they are with more traditional, entrepreneurial pursuits like those of a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or even super-investor Warren Buffett. Bain uses investment capital to invest in start-ups, like Staples, an early recipient of Bain venture capital, as well as searching for companies that are floundering, buying them, and attempting to turn them around. It is this aspect of their investment program that is the target of Perry’s colorful description, as some of Bain’s turnaround attempts failed, leaving behind laid-off workers and the “skeletons” of the previous companies.
So, while the Wall Street Journal called Bain and their contemporaries a “vital contribution to capitalism” that “helps promote” jobs and wealth creation, Gingrich and Perry have joined with President Obama and anti-capitalism protestors in decrying what Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter called the “creative destruction” of capitalism. The tact of Perry and Gingrich is bad for free enterprise, bad for the Republican Party, and bad for whoever gets the nomination. In the state where they hope to rekindle their flagging campaigns, they have decided it isn’t just enough to campaign there; they have decided to Occupy South Carolina.
Born in the same county as Davy Crockett in East Tennessee, Dave Smith has been living in Texas for over 10 years and involved in politics in for over 15 years. He has been blogging for nearly 10 years, has contributed to Town Hall Magazine and other publications, and has been on ABC and Fox discussing election issues. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University with a degree in chemical engineering.