Mitt Romney & the Unequal Playing Field

The most baffling people to me are those online commenters who parrot the GOP party line about “less government, lower taxes.” Unless they are multi-multi-millionaires (and those guys probably aren’t in online forums spewing blatantly misinformed crap about President Obama’s “higher taxes, more spending”), it’s mystifying why they would think for even a fleeting moment about voting for Mitt Romney. Romney has made it clear that not only would he destroy their livelihoods and economic security without a second thought, but that he doesn’t even really get why this would be a problem.

Case in point: Romney’s appearance this week at Otterbein college in Westerville, Ohio (Is it a coincidence that he spoke at a college in Governor Kasich’s upscale hometown? I suspect not). Romney said many things to a hilariously bored audience of college students (look at the video and chuckle at the stupefied faces — nothing like the excitement Josh “The Empty Suit” Mandel showed when Al Gore spoke at Ohio State University in 2000!). But nothing he said demonstrated that he lives in a different world from most of us than this:

This kind of devisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.

http://thinkprogress.org/special/2012/04/27/473096/romney-borrow-money-p...

How many levels of self-delusion are there in that statement? I mean, forget even his flogging of the lie that there is an “attack of success” that is “very different from what we’ve seen in our country’s history.” That’s just flat-out cynical.

But “borrow money if you have to from your parents”?

OK, I’m sure there are a few kids at Otterbein whose parents are rich and can set them up in business. But I’ll bet there are even more who struggled to have contribute all they can to the nearly $40,000-a-year cost for their kid to attend Otterbein so that when he or she heads to New York to try to break into the theater (Otterbein has one of the top musical theater departments in the country), he or she is saddled with as little debt as possible.

Today, with the cost of college and health care in particular, few middle-class families have disposable cash to invest in their children’s business once they’ve invested in their education. And Romney’s policies would cost those people even more — since those policies relentlessly favor those who have already made it to the top rung and stomp on the hands on the people trying to pull themselves up.

But it’s understandable why Mitt Romney would see “borrowing from your parents” as a viable option. Not only did an accident of birth give him everything he needed to become fabulously wealthy, he’s passing it on to the next over-privileged generation:

Solamere Capital, an investment company set up by Mitt’s son Tagg Romney and Romney campaign finance chair Spencer Zwick, directs investments for Mitt’s most active political donors. The firm, founded in 2008, received a $10 million seed investment from Mitt Romney himself.

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/11/08/362885/romney-bush-donor-so...

Now, let’s say you’re a super-bright kid who got into Harvard without having a parent who went there, like the fortunate Tagg. And you’re setting up an investment company. Do you honestly think your company is competing on a level playing field with Tagg’s parent-financed company with its ready base of clients provided by that same parent?

The composition of investors to Solamere Capital allows top donors to Romney’s presidential bid to directly contribute to a Romney family business enterprise. Tagg and his two partners, according to documents filed with the SEC, stand to make $16.8 million in management fees while running the fund.

And it goes on and on.

Lucky Tagg. But the problem isn’t that Tagg is lucky by birth or that he’s become successful due to his father’s contacts (although I do have an issue with the obvious horse-trading of potential government influence on policy which would affect us all) or rich because his father has millions to jumpstart his business.

The problem is that Mitt Romney wants to become President with no apparent understanding of what a head start he had in life and what a huge competitive advantage he’s giving his sons. He seems to believe that any college student can borrow a large enough chunk of money from their parents to launch their career. I wonder if he even thinks what this is saying about opportunities (not) open to kids from poor families?

Obviously, since he believes — or says he believes — there’s an “attack of success,” he simply doesn’t know or care that Republican policies of protecting existing wealth while gutting support for those trying to get ahead are slamming doors in the faces of more and more people. It’s not because they’re not as bright or educated or hard-working as Mitt or Tagg. It’s because they weren’t born as lucky. For once, I would like to hear Romney acknowledge that. He’s a horrible choice for President not because he is rich but because he will not acknowledge the accident factors that contributed to his success.

“Divisiveness”? Look in the mirror, Mitt.

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