Conservatives are giddy this morning after Steven Rattner, who oversaw the auto rescue under President Obama, described the Obama campaign’s new ads attacking Mitt Romney’s record destroying jobs at Bain Capital as “unfair.”
The RNC jumped on the video of Rattner on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, while the National Review, Daily Caller, and others were almost immediately up with stories about “former Obama economic adviser Steve Rattner” criticizing the president’s campaign.
But before conservatives pounce, they may want to watch Rattner’s entire remarks, which are really an indictment of Romney.
“Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs,” Rattner said. “Bain Capital’s responsibility was never to create 100,000 jobs, or some other number, it was to make profits for its investors.” Rattner — who spent his career at Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms — made it clear that he thinks the ad is “unfair” only because it assumes that companies should care about their employees. Watch it:
Technically, of course, Ratter is right — companies’ only legal obligation is to create value for their owners. But as Rattner notes, Romney has built his campaign on claiming that Bain was actually some kind of altruistic job creation machine. Just this morning, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said, “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.”
By acknowledging that “Bain Capital’s responsibility was never to create…jobs,” Ratter is unwittingly endorsing the entire message of the Obama campaign ads, which is that Bain prioritized profits for it wealthy owners over jobs and pensions for its middle-class employees.
Prioritizing profit above all else is, of course, fine for someone running a private equity firm. But it’s not likely to win over voters in the fall, so Romney has disingenuously tried to paint Bain as something other than the profit-hungry corporation that it was. The Obama campaign was merely pointing out the human consequences.
Meanwhile, Rattner, who was embroiled in scandal relating to an alleged kickback scheme involving New York state’s pension fund, and paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and New York state filed lawsuits, may not be the best arbiter of fairness in high finance.