Joe Soptic, the former steel worker in the ad, blamed Mitt Romney for the death of his wife even though the steel plant he worked at closed after Romney left Bain. Mitt Romney left Bain 1999 to go work on the Winter Olympics. GST Steel went belly up in 2001. Soptic’s wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.
Yesterday, CNN spoke to Joe Soptic, and found out that when he lost his GST job, his wife was still working and carried her own health insurance, which she then lost in 2002 or 2003 when an injury forced her to leave the job. She passed away in 2006.
Then there’s this…
Joe Septic, the anti-Romney cancer ad steelworker, admitted in a recent interview that Bain Capital offered him a buyout before the plant closed in 2001. I’m41 reported:
After we lost our jobs, we found out that we were going to lose our health insurance, and that our pensions hadn’t been funded like Bain promised they would be. I was lucky to find another job as a custodian in a local school district. They gave me some health insurance, but I couldn’t afford to buy it for my wife. A little while later she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had to put her in a county hospital because she didn’t have health care, and when the cancer took her away, all I got was an enormous bill. That put a lot of stress on me: I thought I’d be paying it off until I died myself. That probably wouldn’t have happened if Bain kept its promise and I was allowed to keep our health insurance.
At the time, GST’s union blamed the company’s bankruptcy on the political class, for failing to hamstring imports. “We can’t compete against the steel imports that are being sold under cost,” said the president of GST’s union in 2001. “Our pleas fell on deaf ears in the political arena.” The Bush administration would ultimately slap on giant tariffs.
The bankruptcies were led by unionized companies that, like airlines and textiles and Detroit, had negotiated pay and benefits that helped drive their employers under. GST’s pension benefits would get passed on to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which in 2002 received $7.5 billion in claims from the steel industry alone. The PBGC covered GST’s basic pension payouts.
The Obama ad doesn’t note that the broader company, GS Industries, employed 3,500 and that the Kansas City plant (with 750 workers) was the only one shuttered. Other plants were bought and operate today. Nor does it mention Bain’s other steel investment in the early 1990s, in an Indiana start-up called Steel Dynamics. The firm touts innovative technology and a nonunion workforce. It today reports $6.3 billion in revenue—25 times what it claimed in its 1996 IPO—and employs 6,000.
A private-equity firm looking to quickly strip value from a company—to “suck” the life out of it—does not do so by investing $100 million in modernization and holding on for eight years, through bankruptcy. Bain has surely made its share of mistakes, and one may well have been trying to resuscitate a traditional steel firm in the grip of industry upheaval. The irony, says Mr. Huselton, is that this plant “wouldn’t even be in today’s news, if it hadn’t been the opportunity that came with Bain. Those jobs would have been gone in 1993.”
In the case of this particularly jarring super PAC ad, it may also be relevant that Soptic’s wife died in 2006, years after the GST factory closed down.
A 2006 story in the Kansas City Star reported the death of Ranae Soptic, a former champion roller skater: “Soptic went to the hospital for pneumonia, but doctors found signs of very advanced cancer, and she died two weeks later on June 22.”
We could do some unpacking and note that a cancer that kills its victim in 22 days is not a cancer that’s likely to respond even to the best treatments money can buy. We could also note that under Obama’s plan, energy rates skyrocketed and insurance rates have gone up, both of which have gobbled up middle class savings. We could note that under Obama’s plan, the federal government will end up rationing care and might have ruled the man’s wife unworthy of saving. We could note that under Obama’s plan, many companies are contemplating dropping coverage for their workers because they don’t want the liabilities. We could also note that under Obama’s plan, welfare reform has been gutted, illegal aliens have been granted an amnesty-lite by fiat, and the freedom of conscience has been unilaterally repealed. Obama did all of that.
President Obama’s attacks on free enterprise have triggered a backlash among many—even among those in his own party. In just the past few days, everyone from former advisors to his own surrogates have criticized the Obama campaign’s attack on free enterprise. With no record to run on, it is no surprise that the Obama campaign has resorted to misleading attacks that have been disavowed by its own supporters.
The first Bain attack ad talked about something that took place two years after Romney had already left, but during the tenure of a current Obama bundler who worked at Bain later. The same day that Team Obama launched the Bain attack, Obama held a fundraiser hosted by Tony James of Blackstone, another private-equity firm that occasionally partnered with Bain on projects.
The problem with these attacks is both accuracy and hypocrisy. Obama has no trouble raising money from private-equity firms (or perhaps he does have trouble doing so), but then demonizes and demagogues the private-equity industry. That’s what Booker found “nauseating” during his brief moment of candor, and what bothers Ford and everyone else.
9. The media is going to town on stories like this from ABC News: “The Obama campaign’s latest attack tells the story of workers at an Indiana office supply company who lost their jobs after a Bain-owned company named American Pad & Paper (Ampad) took over their company and drove it out of business. Here’s what the Obama Web video doesn’t mention: A top Obama donor and fundraiser had a much more direct tie to the controversy and actually served on the board of directors at Richardson, Texas-based Ampad, which makes office paper products. Jonathan Lavine is a long-time Bain Capital executive and co-owner of the Boston Celtics. He is also one of President Obama’s most prolific fundraisers.” Oh well, then it was smart business and a good faith attempt to save the company.