Dana Milbank Attacks Romney’s Bain Ethics

August/17/2012 16:04PM
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Washington Post writer Dana Milbank wrote an oped piece questioning Romney’s Bain ethics.


Here’s the shorthand version of the Milbank beef. He stretched it into a few hundred words. Bain bought the Italian yellow pages business from the Italian government for 36 million Euros. That was in 1997. In February 2000, the Italian government bought back all shares they didn’t own, including those bought by Bain.  That resulted in a $1 billion profit for Bain and a $60 million profit for Romney. Today the shares bought by the Italian government is worth $57 million Euros.

This gentleman, Milbank, doesn’t question whether Bain grew the business and made it successful, he questions whether Bain and Romney took advantage of Italian taxpayers who now own something that’s worth little. That’s how Milbank thinks about this situation.

Here’s how I see it. The Italian government is no better at managing a business than the US government. The government ran the business and it was failing. Bain took over and made it work. The Italian government decided to spend a lot of taxpayer money to buy it back. Bain sold it back. It failed again, and Bain had nothing to do with that failure. Nor did Bain hold a gun to the head of the Italian government to get back in the business.

This just confirms what happens when you have a community organizer trying to run a business. Governments can’t run businesses. Look at the Post Office and Amtrak. Look at Freddie, Fannie and the FHA. Watch GM, the final chapter of that isn’t written yet.

Funny thing. Milbank a journalist, sees a private equity firm taking advantage of Italian taxpayers. And, yours truly, a businessman, sees further proof that good business people, like Romney and others at Bain, can take something the government can’t run and make it successful. Could Romney do that with everything the government is trying to run? Don’t know, but I give him better odds than the community organizer and professional teleprompter user.

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