The truth about Bain Capital

Gary Shapiro President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
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Disparaging Governor Romney’s record at Bain Capital is a large part of President Obama’s campaign strategy. I find this baffling as Romney’s record at Bain is stellar. Even former President Bill Clinton has noted that Romney was a successful business leader and is qualified to be president. Unfortunately, the media usually echoes the attacks on Bain rather than checking their veracity.

If the traditional media won’t do its job, I will. Here are some facts about Bain Capital:

1.) Eighty percent of the companies Bain invested in are still profitable entities employing Americans. Bain invested in 77 companies during Romney’s tenure as CEO, 10 of which produced 70-plus percent of the company’s gains. These companies have added thousands of jobs to the private sector and have had a positive impact on the lives of many people. This is an amazing record for a business that invested in weak and failing companies.

2.) Bain refused to invest in legal but morally questionable businesses. Under Mitt Romney’s leadership, Bain refused to invest in companies that sell alcohol, guns and tobacco products.

3.) Union pension funds invest in Bain. Government-worker pension and retirement funds have invested around $1.5 billion in Bain. These funds have benefited unionized teachers, social workers and public-health personnel in states like Iowa, Nevada and Ohio. Many Obama supporters would be startled to learn that they owe some of their success to the success of the company that Romney launched.

4.) Universities and left-leaning foundations invest in Bain. According to the New York Post, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ford Foundation and the Heinz Endowments are all Bain clients, as are Purdue University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington. While not necessarily political organizations, universities are overwhelmingly left-wing, and each of the foundations listed funds liberal causes.

5.) Private equity capital funds like Bain remain the best-performing investment of the largest state employee fund in the country. According to a California State Teachers Retirement System Fund representative, since 1988 private equity companies like Bain have outperformed every other asset class to which the fund has allocated the cash of its 856,360 members, most of whom are in unions. When critics charge that all Romney, via Bain, was interested in was making money for investors, they’re right: investors like teachers.

The New York Post said it best: “Is Bain really a gang of corporate buccaneers who plunder their ill-gotten gains by outsourcing, euthanizing feeble portfolio companies and giving cancer to the spouses of those whom they fired? If so, union bosses, government retirees, liberal foundations and elite universities thrive on the wages of Bain’s economic Darwinism.”

While one can argue whether Romney’s Bain experience is relevant to the presidency, Democrats should take their allegations and attack ads about Bain off the table.

Yes, Bain made some bad investments, and workers lost their jobs. But Bain invested in lots of weak businesses that might not be in existence today had it not been for Bain’s support. Our entire economy depends on a system that allows for winners and losers, and we should respect our country’s freedoms, which allow for upward mobility and entrepreneurship.

Governor Romney is a brilliant leader and businessman. The attacks on his Bain leadership are more than misplaced; they’re deceptive.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.” Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.