By James Devine
Most people know he made millions of dollars as a corporate buyout specialist by eliminating American jobs, but many express surprise when they learn that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also has a long history of profiting from government handouts.
One of Romney’s campaign ads featuring Steel Dynamics, a steel company in Indiana, where the state insisted on implementing a DeKalb County economic development income tax before it would agree to offer $77.84 million in government handouts, highlights the brutal and inequitable nature of contemporary American business mining profits from politics.
Four years later, while still owned by Bain Capital, Steel Dynamics got $18 million in local tax subsidies for a structural steel mill in Whitley County, Indiana
In his speech after the New Hampshire primary, Romney attacked President Obama for promoting “the politics of envy,” vowing that “the path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the answer.”
A year after Romney’s equity capital firm’s 1997 buyout of the mattress company, Sealy received $600,000 from state and local authorities in North Carolina to move its corporate offices, a research center and a manufacturing plant from Ohio.
Bain owned a total of nine companies that were able to reap private profits because they received government subsidies at public expense.
The takeover by Bain Capital of GS Industries resulted in 700 steelworkers losing their jobs, health insurance, and a chunk of their hard-earned pensions in Kansas City, MO.
GT Bicycles, owned by Bain and other investors, got special tax credits in 1997 because it moved manufacturing operations to an enterprise zone in Santa Ana, California.
Florida officials put together a subsidy package for Burger King to payoff the company for keeping its headquarters in the Miami area but two years later, the corporation dropped plans for moving and had to repay $3 million of the $9 million package from a Quick Action Closing Fund grant.
Staples, whose early backing by Bain is frequently cited by Romney as the best example of his business acumen, chose Hagerstown, Maryland as the site for a distribution center after getting a $4.2 million subsidy package in 1996.
Romney’s anti-government comments and free-market rhetoric fail to inform the public about the extent to which his wealth — and that of the rest of the nation’s richest one percent — has been made possible by public money.