Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Mitt Romney's job creator claim short on evidence

A pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, will promote a 28-minute video attacking Mitt Romney as a "corporate raider."

Mitt Romney says he helped create 100,000 jobs. Critics say he's been a job destroyer. One pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC says it's ready to invest $1 million in that message.

But who's right?

Fact-checkers and other journalists have repeatedly looked at the history of Bain Capital, the investment firm Romney ran from 1984 to 1999.

Bottom line? It's tough to prove job claims on either side — not that we won't try.

While we sift through evidence, here's what we know so far.

Romney used to shy away from claims he created jobs, but no more. This campaign, he's made two different job creation claims. First he said that three companies Bain invested in had created 100,000 jobs: Staples, Sports Authority and Domino's. Later, after criticism those numbers didn't account for layoffs at other Bain companies, he said that overall, companies in which Bain invested created 100,000 net new jobs. Sure, some companies didn't fare well, he argued, but others more than made up for it.

Romney's campaign has yet to release evidence to support the new claim.

A new 27-minute video (see the trailer) promoted by a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC focuses on the job-loss side of the equation, arguing Romney wasn't a job creator, but "predatory corporate raider." The full video, yet to be released by Winning Our Future, focuses on just four Bain companies. We haven't seen it yet but will scour it for checkable claims when we do.

While we wait, here's a wrapup of recent fact-checks that outline the challenge journalists face getting to the bottom of Romney's private sector legacy.

FactCheck.org

Highlight:

"It's true that the private equity firm Bain Capital, which Romney headed from 1984 to 1999, invested in many companies that went on to add jobs. But there's no thorough count of the jobs gained and lost in all the companies in which Bain invested. And it's highly debatable whether Bain, and Romney, deserve credit for all of the jobs created, particularly when there were other investors, executives who launched or ran the companies, and new owners in later years."

Stats:
• Romney's campaign says just three Bain companies have created 100,000 jobs: Staples (89,000), Sports Authority (15,000) and Domino's (7,900 jobs added since 1999). That's 111,900 jobs.
• Companies that lost jobs include American Pad & Paper (385), Dade International (1,900), DDi Corp. (2,100), Clear Channel Communications (2,500) and KB Toys (3,400). That's 10,285 jobs. (FactCheck.org rounded up the numbers from POLITICO and the New York Times.)

Read the story: Romney's shaky jobs claim

Washington Post Fact Checker

Highlight:

"Romney’s campaign provided current employment numbers for some of Bain’s greatest success stories: Staples has 89,000 workers, the Sports Authority 15,000 and Domino’s 7,900. Based on that information, we know the private-equity firm did indeed create jobs during Romney’s tenure by providing seed capital and advice to these start-ups. But that list does not include the leveraged buyouts. By itself, it’s not enough to prove a net-net gain in employment numbers. For that, we need to compare the number of people laid off with the number of people hired, which requires old jobs figures for all the companies Bain purchased under Romney. Neither Bain nor the Romney campaign gave us that information when we asked for it. Bain also declined to answer with a yes or no whether its companies created more jobs than it eliminated during Romney’s tenure."

Read the stories: Romney vs. Obama on job creation and Romney’s claims about Bain Capital job creation

Associated Press

Highlight: 

 "Romney has never substantiated his frequent claim that he was a creator of more than 100,000 jobs while leading the Bain Capital private equity company. His campaign merely cites success stories without laying out the other side of the ledger — jobs lost at Bain-acquired or Bain-supported firms that closed, trimmed their workforce or shifted employment overseas. Moreover, his campaign bases its claims on recent employment figures at three companies — Staples, Domino’s and Sports Authority — even though Romney’s involvement with them ceased years ago. ... Staples, now with close to 90,000 employees, and Sports Authority, with about 15,000, were start-ups supported by Romney. The direct work force at Domino’s has grown by nearly 8,000 since Romney’s intervention. But Romney got out of the game in 1999, which has not stopped his campaign from crediting him with jobs created at those companies since then."

Read the story: Romney struggles on jobs claim

What's next

While Winning Our Future's anti-Romney video will focus on four Bain companies, the Wall Street Journal recently examined the success and failure of 77 businesses Bain invested in while Romney ran the firm. It didn't focus on job gains and losses. Meanwhile, Bain has refused to release a full list of companies it invested it.

If we look merely at what's been reported so far, it seems possible Bain businesses added more jobs than they lost — especially if you offer full credit for every job added since Bain first touched a company, whether it's still involved or not. (And we're not saying we would.)

That's a far cry from supporting Romney's very specific claim: 100,000 net jobs.

There's not yet enough evidence to assess the claim. Bain, a private company, won't release a list of businesses it invests in. Instead, we have an incomplete list of companies posted last year by the Los Angeles Times. That's the first hurdle in assessing whether Romney's claim is correct. The next would be whether the companies involved would release job numbers. Romney's campaign has stayed close-lipped.