Is Mitt Romney a Job Creator or a Job Destroyer?

The Obama and Romney campaigns have released competing ads, both concerning Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital. The Obama ad, which Jamelle posted here, attacks Bain Capital for buying, eviscerating, and then selling off a company called GST Steel in Kansas City, leaving the good hard-working people there jobless and desperate. The Romney ad, on the other hand, tells an entirely different story, that of Steel Dynamics, a company that employs thousands of good hard-working people, thanks to Mitt Romney. So which story should we believe? I'll give you the answer in a moment, but first, let's look at the Romney ad:

So who's right? Is Mitt Romney a job-creator, or a job-destroyer? The answer is ... yes!

Obama would like people to believe that Romney's work in private equity consisted of buying companies, tearing them to pieces, and selling off bits of the carcass, perhaps running over a child's toe with his limousine as he drove away from the shuttered plant. Romney would like people to believe that the start of every day at Bain, he said, "All right, team—how can we create jobs for Americans today?" The truth is that both the creation of jobs and the destruction of jobs happened at various times. That's because Romney and Bain were in business for one purpose: making money. Sometimes they did so in ways that destroyed jobs, and sometimes they did so in ways that created jobs. We may never figure out whether the total jobs ledger was positive or negative, since you can always argue that particular losses would have happened anyway without Bain, or that particular gains would also have happened anyway. So we should embrace a little nuance here. Romney's Bain career was neither completely evil nor completely saintly.

One interesting note: At the end of the Romney ad, one of the workers says, "One of the hardest things to do is move up a socio-economic status in a generation. Because of this company, I'm able to do that with my family." But according to conservative dogma, moving up the socioeconomic ladder isn't supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be easy. Anyone can do it. All it takes is hard work. You'll find it nearly impossible to get a Republican to admit that in America, you can work hard and still wind up behind. All market outcomes are supposed to be just. People only get what they deserve. If someone is rich it's because he worked hard, and if someone is poor it's because he's lazy. How did that bit of socialist propaganda find its way into Mitt Romney's ad?

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