29 May Leo W. Gerard Romney Economics: Cheat Main Street
Mitt Romney made a boatload of money for himself and his fellow fat cats. No doubt about it. Billions. But he made it the way Americans hate most – Wall Street style wheeling and dealing.
Americans hate it because when all that scheming went bad, when the market collapsed, it was the 99 percent who footed the bill to bailout Wall Street. The same is true of Romney and Bain. When Bain bankrupted the companies it bought – and Bain did that shockingly often – workers and Main Street businesses paid the price.
Romney contends his money making as CEO of Bain qualifies him to be President of the United States. That’s true if Americans believe money should flow out of their pockets, out of the cash registers of Main Street shops and into the Swiss bank accounts of Romney and his 1 percenter cronies.
Here are some of Romney’s victims, Main Street businesses owed money by just one bankrupted Bain company, American Pad and Paper Co. (Ampad): Technical Coatings Laboratory, owed $125,191.20 and paid in bankruptcy $237.03; Services Plus Inc., owed $12,064.71, paid $22.84; Crown Vantage, owed $32,155.26, paid $60.89.
In the 15 years Romney ran Bain from 1984 to 1999, 22 percent of the companies it invested in went bankrupt or closed within eight years, according to a study by the Wall Street Journal.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, the bulk – 70 percent – of the $2.5 billion Bain made for investors during that time came from just 10 deals. Four of those ended up in bankruptcy as well – killing jobs and jilting Main Street businesses. Despite that, Romney and the Bain investors fattened their Swiss bank accounts.
More Main Street victims: Lakeway Container Inc., owed $47,143.56 by Ampad, paid $89.26 in bankruptcy; Olympic Adhesives, owed $6,566, paid $12.43; American Chain and Gear, owed $505.54, paid 96 cents.
Bain’s handling of Ampad illustrates how the rich extract money from these deals and leave behind wounded workers and Main Street shops. Bain bought Ampad from Mead Corp. in 1992 and added SCM Office Supplies to the holdings two years later. Like many leveraged buyout deals, these were financed with loans secured by the purchased companies’ assets.
Within hours after buying SCM, Bain fired every one of its 350 workers in Marion, Ind. Bain, through Ampad, told the shocked and terrified workers they could apply for their former positions if they wanted them back – at less pay, fewer benefits and worse working conditions.
because they are too weakened to deal with normal business adversity.
More Main Street victims of Ampad bankruptcy: Economy Plumbing Co., owed $1,505.69, paid $2.85; Hohner Stitching Products, owed $2,095.76, paid $3.97; Mount Tom Box Co. Inc., owed $34,351.96, paid $65.04.
When Ampad went under, it owed $182.6 million to its suppliers across America. The bankruptcy left only $328,633 to pay nearly 1,300 unsecured creditors – that worked out to 10 cents for every $10 Ampad owed. That’s how a company liked Hometown Café & Catering, owed $600.60 by Ampad, got all of $1.14. And Hometown Café received that big fat check 11 years after Ampad filed for bankruptcy.
These Main Street shops and businesses are the heart of American communities, supporting the local United Way, Little League teams and Memorial Day parades. Debts never paid mean less money for them to hire their own workers, fewer dollars for them to contribute to their communities and a higher probability they’ll be forced into bankruptcy.
Bain invested $5 million in Ampad and took more than $100 million out, through numerous methods, including fees. That $100 million would have gone a long way toward paying the debts Ampad owed to Main Street businesses across the country. It wouldn’t be surprising if they felt a little like Romney and Bain robbed them at gunpoint.
But everything Bain did was legal. It’s Romney economics, working for the wealthy while double crossing Main Street.
Leo W. Gerard also is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee and chairs the labor federation’s Public Policy Committee. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. He serves as co-chairman of the BlueGreen Alliance and on the boards of Campaign for America’s Future and the Economic Policy Institute. He is a member of the IMF and ICEM global labor federations and was instrumental in creating Workers Uniting, the first global union. Follow @USWBlogger