Mitt Romney’s first town hall in New Hampshire was a PR disaster Occupy Wall Street turned the event into Mitt Romney explains why corporations are really the good guys.
Here is a transcript of what happened when Mitt Romney met up with Occupy protester Mark Provost,
Mark Provost: I’m Mark from Occupy Boston and Occupy New Hampshire. Congratulations on your victory last night. You’ve said that ‘corporations are people,’ but in the last two years, corporate profits have surged to record highs, directly at the expense of wages. That’s in a JP Morgan report. Now, it seems that the U.S. is a great place to be a corporation then, but increasingly a desperate place to live and work. So would you refine your statement from ‘corporations are people’ to ‘corporations are abusive people?’ And would you be willing to reverse the policies of the Obama administration and his predecessors around corporate-centric economic policies, that only see wealth and income strata just go to the top, record highs seemingly every — faster every year. And the people in this country are in a permanent economic stagnation. So I just want to see some color on that.
Mitt Romney: Where do you think a corporation’s profit goes?
Provost: It depends. If they retain it, there’s retained earnings. That means that they’re not spending it, they’re not distributing it in dividends, and that means they’re not using it for capital expenditures. You know, so they can just hoard it. That’s retained earnings. Right. But it’s profits. It goes to shareholders. So it goes to the one percent of Americans who own 90 percent of the stocks.
Romney: Ok, now let’s get the facts, all right?
Provost: Those are facts, Mr. Romney.
Romney: Hold on, it’s my turn. You’ve had your turn. Now it’s my turn. All right.
You’re right, it goes to dividends, all right, which is the owners, but they’re not the 1 percent. They’re not only the 1 percent. I’m sure among the dividends, there are the 1 percent, but also they are the people who have pensions. All right. There’s a guy. Are you the 1 percent?
Romney: No? He’s got dividends and retirement plans, 401ks. They’re filled with the dividends that come out from corporations. That’s number one. Number two, you are right, they can go into retained earnings which can then be used for capital expenditures, or growing the business, or hiring people, or working capital. When a business has profit it can do good things. Give it to the shareholders and grow the enterprise. And by the way, the only way it can hire people is if it grows the enterprise.
Corporations, they’re made up of people and then of course the buildings that people work in. The buildings don’t pay taxes. The only entities that pay taxes are people. So corporations are collections of people that are trying to have good jobs for themselves and promote the future. Corporations are made up of people and the money goes to people either to hire people or to pay shareholders. So they’re made up of people. So somehow thinking that there’s something else out there that we can just grab money from and get taxes from and everything would be better, that doesn’t involve people, why, they’re still people.
And what I want to do is make America a place where those corporations that have that money decide to invest here. I was with a guy who runs a big chemical company. He said, ‘We’ve just announced a $20 billion factory in Saudi Arabia.’ I said, ‘Why.’ He said, ‘We wanted to build it in Pennsylvania but the regulators in this country are not willing to act to allow us to get ahold of the natural gas, so we’re going to have to go somewhere else.’ Tens of thousands of jobs lost, not by the corporations, but by the government not doing its job. I want this to be the place where corporations — people from all over the world — want to invest here, grow here, start their businesses. I’ve had the occasion of helping start businesses, trying to make them better, trying to grow them. That’s how we get jobs.
The only two places we can get jobs: one is for government, everybody working for government. We’ve seen nations that have tried that. It hasn’t worked out. The only system that’s ever worked in the history of the world, to lift people out of poverty, is free enterprise. Nothing else has worked. Look at Cuba, look at North Korea, look at the Soviet Union. They’re bankrupt. Only free enterprise. Look at China. All these years under communism, socialism — poverty, impoverished for generations. They finally adopt some form of free enterprise like we have, allowing corporations to exist and have profit. Guess what happens? Tens of millions of people a year come out of poverty. It’s marvelous.
Notice that Romney conveniently ignored Provost’s point about one percent of Americans owning ninety percent of the stock, which is not exactly accurate but similar to data from 2007 which found that the top ten percent controlled eighty two percent of the stock and nearly eighty eight percent of all investment assets, while the bottom eighty percent hold seventy three percent of the debt. Notice that in Romney’s telling of the story, the corporations are the misunderstood good guys. In his view the way to put tens of millions of Americans back to work is to give corporations more cuts and fewer regulations.
Mitt Romney was selling the myth that corporations reinvest their profits into growing their businesses and hiring more people, but the Great Recession has shown us that corporations are more likely to sit on their profits, and reinvest as little as possible. Romney is selling a fantasy that is the complete opposite of what is known to be true about corporate behavior in the current economy.
One question from an Occupy protester used Romney’s own victory rally to expose him as the candidate for, by, and of the one percent. If Occupiers keep showing up at Romney town halls and forcing the GOP frontrunner to reveal his true self and agenda, it won’t be long before Mitt Romney’s mask will be shattered and voters will see the face of the one percent.