Mitt Romney’s tenure as CEO of Bain Capital has been much in the news lately. Romney has been touting his business experience as proof of his leadership skills for months on end and then criticized President Obama for responding to that spurious claim. As President Obama correctly points out, the skill sets for CEO and a President are completely different. Indeed they’re in conflict with each other.
Romney claims he was a job creator at Bain, going as far as to falsely claim he created 100,000 jobs at Bain. In fact, even Romney’s spokesman was forced to admit, Romney was not a job creator, because that’s not what a CEO does. As CEO of Bain, Romney’s job was to extract profits from the companies they took over. He was good at making a profit, but the money ended up in his pocket and his relative handful of big investors. And in order to make those wild profit margins, he was responsible for cutting wages, eliminating benefits and outright firing the workers who built the value in the company being taken over in the first place.
A CEO’s sole concern is self-interest and making the decision to fire thousands of people was Romney’s job. He was good at it. And he’s very good at looking out for his own interests. It’s too rarely mentioned that even though he left Bain in order to pursue his political ambitions, Romney negotiated an exit agreement that still pays him millions annually to this day.
So yes, Romney is a great businessman who knows how to maximize profits. However, this is not a skill set that translates well to the Presidency of the United States. Indeed, putting profits before people is the opposite of the mindset we want in a president. The president’s job isn’t to create money. It’s to serve the best interests of all the people. Romney has been served by others all his life. I’ve seen nothing from him so far that illustrates he even understands the concept of serving others himself.