Comparing Track Records: Mitt Romney's Private Equity vs Barack Obama's Public Equity

Tyler Durden's picture

By now everyone is well aware what the main tension involving this year's presidential campaign as far as Mitt Romney is concerned, will be his professional past, namely his experience at, and exposure to, Bain Capital. By now most have also gotten a sense of the angle of attack that the incumbent will rely on in order to discredit his GOP challenger, and if they haven't, they will soon enough: after all in Obama's own words "Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital is what this campaign is going to be about." In other words, Romney's history with managing private (emphasis added) equity. Yet at Marc Thiessen at the WaPo points out, the logical retort from the Romney camp would be to shift attention to something potentially more embarrassing: Obama's record with public equity. Because, frankly, it is deplorable. And while one may debate the number of job losses at the companies that Bain took private, the driving prerogative for Romney was to generate value for his investors and shareholders. This in itself will hardly be debated by Obama. In other words, for any and all of his other failings, Romney succeeded at his primary task. The question then is: did Obama do the same? Did he succeed in investing public equity, i.e., the taxpayer capital that the US financial mechanism has afforded him. Sadly, the answer appears to be a resounding no.

As Thiessen notes:

Since taking office, Obama has invested billions of taxpayer dollars in private businesses, including as part of his stimulus spending bill. Many of those investments have turned out to be unmitigated disasters — leaving in their wake bankruptcies, layoffs, criminal investigations and taxpayers on the hook for billions.

One could just utter the world Solyndra here, and all would be made clear. However, that is just the beginning. Here are some other notable public equity failings of the administration:

  • Raser Technologies. In 2010, the Obama administration gave Raser a $33 million taxpayer-funded grant to build a power plant in Beaver Creek, Utah. According to the Wall Street Journal, after burning through our tax dollars, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. The plant now has fewer than 10 employees, and Raser owes $1.5 million in back taxes.
  • ECOtality. The Obama administration gave ECOtality $126.2 million in taxpayer money in 2009 for, among other things, the installation of 14,000 electric car chargers in five states. Obama even hosted the company’s president, Don Karner, in the first lady’s box during the 2010 State of the Union address as an example of a stimulus success story. According to ECOtality’s own SEC filings, the company has since incurred more than $45 million in losses and has told the federal government, “We may not achieve or sustain profitability on a quarterly or annual basis in the future.” Worse, according to CBS News the company is “under investigation for insider trading,” and Karner has been subpoenaed “for any and all documentation surrounding the public announcement of the first Department of Energy grant to the company.”
  • Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP). The Obama administration gave NGP a $98.5 million taxpayer loan guarantee in 2010. The New York Times reported last October that the company is in “financial turmoil” and that “[a]fter a series of technical missteps that are draining Nevada Geothermal’s cash reserves, its own auditor concluded in a filing released last week that there was ‘significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.’ ”
  • First Solar. The Obama administration provided First Solar with more than $3 billion in loan guarantees for power plants in Arizona and California. According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report last week, the company “fell to a record low in Nasdaq Stock Market trading May 4 after reporting $401 million in restructuring costs tied to firing 30 percent of its workforce.”
  • Abound Solar, Inc. The Obama administration gave Abound Solar a $400 million loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories. According to Forbes, in February the company halted production and laid off 180 employees.
  • Beacon Power. The Obama administration gave Beacon — a green-energy storage company — a $43 million loan guarantee. According to CBS News, at the time of the loan, “Standard and Poor’s had confidentially given the project a dismal outlook of ‘CCC-plus.’ ” In the fall of 2011, Beacon received a delisting notice from Nasdaq and filed for bankruptcy.

It gets worse:

A company called SunPower got a $1.2 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, and as of January, the company owed more than it was worth. Brightsource got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee and posted a string of net losses totaling $177 million. And, of course, let’s not forget Solyndra — the solar panel manufacturer that received $535 million in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees and went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

Yet if it was merely pure incompetence from a president without any real business background, that would at least explain it, if not justify it. However, it appears that inexcusable crony capitalism plays a far greater role in Obama's public equity failings:

Obama has declared that all the projects received funding “based solely on their merits.” But as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, “Throw Them All Out,” fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to “individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.” Collectively, these Obama cronies raised $457,834 for his campaign, and they were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.35 billion. Obama said this week it’s not the president’s job “to make a lot of money for investors.” Well, he sure seems to have made a lot of (taxpayer) money for investors in his political machine.


All that cronyism and corruption is catching up with the administration. According to Politico, “The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations” related to the department’s green-energy programs.

So while attacking Romney for his beliefs, views, and outlook on life may be one thing, Obama may be wise to redirect his current strategy of attacking Romney's professional background, unless the tables are turned, and his own track record of gross public capital missalocation ends up under the prime time microscope.

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bugs_'s picture

what a bain in the ass

Colombian Gringo's picture

Ultimately, both are crooks, false bookends for the left and the right spectrum that elects the same controlled politicians. No hope, no change.

BKbroiler's picture

Wow, surprise, more partisan hackery from the Tylers.

When you're farther right than Marketwatch, it's time to rethink the "centrist outsider" label.

ISEEIT's picture

Get your ass in the bunker and start waving the white flag now then.

Meanwhile some individuals are going to stay in the fight. All this bullshit about both sides being 'the same' is a lame ass excuse to be lazy and just check out...To quit.

Do that.

But as you leave, realize that others will remain and fight.

Mocking democrat/republican is a sign of good health.

But I suggest that you are missing the war.

The war is a war of ideas. Always has been.

One idea is vastly superior to the other.

And ultimately, it does come down to that one simple place.

Good VS Evil.

Love it, leave it, mock it, ignore it..

Or stand for something real.

Do your thang...

BKbroiler's picture

nice rant, weirdo.  I just like to think ZH could rise above taking sides in the political snipes, so I put my 2 cents in.  

I'm not sure you got the jist of my post. Next time I ' l l   t y p e  s l o w e r.

blunderdog's picture

Oh, don't worry about it. 

It's another one of those "good vs. evil" things--if you don't understand it, you're "evil" and they'll be fully justified lining you up somewhere and punching some holes through you.

Good vs. evil.  Duh.  It's always just that simple.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

-1 for blunder; if you don't understand it, you're probably ignorant, perhaps stupid, but not "evil" ...

James_Cole's picture

Understanding that the two parties serve the exact same interests is the first step to not waving the white flag. Voting for either of those clowns is the lazy thing to do. 

Both parties aim to steal to your money, both parties aim to limit your freedom, both parties support wars of adventurism serving specific corporate interests that largely do not align with common voters. 

Vote for either party at your peril. 

Ident 7777 economy's picture




" Vote for either party at your peril. "


Yeah; I want another pres that will appoint a smart Latina or another dyke 'solicitor general' (who won't recuse herself  on a matter she supported before appointment) to the top court.




ISEEIT's picture

One advantage of not using meds seems to be that one is able to perform simple math functions. A second benifit appears to be the ability to recognize the propaganda created to assist in my enslavement as being propaganda rather than actual 'news'.

To claim that 4+ TRILLION in additional theft from future citizens is some how a talking point in favor of reelection really and truly shows what an idiot you are.

To wit: Well bush raped her 5 times and obama has only raped her twice?

Are you serious?

Bananamerican's picture

this..."piece" is regurgitated right-wing talking points.

Fuck romney...with a dirty stick...Just...fuck that creepy fascist bullshit artist bitch....and ObiWan too.

We have no choice, again, this election season except "voting one's conscience"...all 200,000 or so of us

HiHoAg's picture

I'll take anybody but Zero.

I know where that cocksucker is steering the bus and it's off a fucking cliff.


narapoiddyslexia's picture

True point, that. On the other hand, there's a lot of folk wisdom in "Better the devil you know."

Romney will cave TOTALLY to the banks and Wall Street.

How could any rational person who reads the stuff on this site [and not the alarmist BS that the Tylers put up to drive the sheeple numbers, but the real shit] how could any of you ever support a Wall Street jerk like Romney?

The cognitive dissonance abounds.

orion's picture

I watched the clip you linked to and don't understand what you find in it that merits calling him an asshole.

Mostly he was talking about horses. I didn't hear him saying anything bad about people who don't have horses.

Could you or someone who upvoted you clarify what is assholish about the clip? When I started reading ZH about a year ago it didn't seem like

it was filled with a bunch of envy-driven Occupy-types

drchris's picture


"What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year."


OMG, does that mean Clinton blew his own surplus.  I like this train of thought!  Please don't be a coward, stick with this story!  I'm tired of the Clinton surplus fairy tale that somehow negates the left's involvement in the debt.  Thank you for disproving it once and for all! 

Dr. Sandi's picture

Depends on how you define the word "blew."

(Also the word surplus.)

slewie the pi-rat's picture

hi drSandi!

the bag is reversible?  L0L!

GMadScientist's picture

Quick, which party controlled congress during 1999, sub-genius?

ZOMG, does that mean that we shouldn't pay attention to the costs of two unnecessary wars, drugs for seniors, and a billion off-budget items?

You: double-plus not-smart.


Al Gorerhythm's picture

Mien Gott in Himmel! I've never read such utter disingenuous crap (your link) other than Obamney's list of promises. You are truely lost, brother. I read yours and so here's one back at you. It's about 12 mins of viewing, if you can focus for that long. It will show you where both parties have gone wrong.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

I have just found this article that claims the same about Obama's legacy as yours does about Bush's legacy to Obama.

This just confirms my point about the clap-trap and fairytales from both parties. They're on the same team, fool.

batterycharged's picture

"the driving prerogative for Romney was to generate value for his investors and shareholders. Romney succeeded at his primary task. The question then is: did Obama do the same?"


Yes, Obama generated value for Romney's investors and shareholders.

PeaceLover's picture

got to be some religious folk in here!

who would give you a mark's down in the face of facts.

Some kind of brain washed  believer..

A believer in what Dem's or Republicans have to offer.. more money for the top and less for the people on the street.(workers)
either so conned by media.. or paid buy the bank to troll.
Rom and Obama aren't in it for the people.

Can someone say ME FIRST and screw the stupid masses.

boogerbently's picture

I've always wondered why people would worry more about what Romney does with his own money, than what Obama does with OUR money??

Bananamerican's picture

as i often wonder why people prefer the taste of cat shit to dog, by a two to one margin...

vast-dom's picture


Urban Roman's picture

Bookends? Do you put your bookends in the middle of the shelf?

They are both kleptocrats. Any little rhetorical device that differentiates them one from another is just that. They are both part of the same two-headed freak.

RoadKill's picture

You are a blow tard. Have you ever met Romney? Do you know anything about his past at Bain Capital or with the Olympics or running Mass? What exactly are you refferring to when you say he is a crook?

You dont have to agree with his polotics, but to say he is anything lrss then the most qualified person to run for President in the past 4 or 5 decades is idiotic.

dwdollar's picture


BKbroiler's picture

that's awesome.  your ha's when right off the screen

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Here There Be Dragons>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


victor82's picture

Thank you, but no way is Romtard more qualified than the Great Trickster His Bad Self, Tricky the Biggus Dickus Nixon, Mr. "I closed the Gold Window". 

Okay, Dick was a genius behind that tortured soul, but sometimes geniuses screw up. Throwing gold under the bus was his big mistake. 

But compared to Obama or Romney, Nixon is fucking Pericles.

Ident 7777 economy's picture




" Thank you, but no way is Romtard more qualified than the Great Trickster His Bad Self, "




Reason #1 we are IN this mess ( victor82 and those like him could not look past the glitzy media presentation on the O beore the election. The "O" could not successfully run a banana-stand ,,,)



Bob's picture

Won't get into defending the Mocha Messiah, who is indefensible, imo, but how could anybody be in the dark about O'Romney? 

Well, okay, forgiven for knowing little about his stint as MA Guv beyond his signature achievement of RomneyCare, since he made sure he left office with all the computer hard drives that would have allowed for serious under the hood examination . . . but Bain is no secret:

eclectic syncretist's picture

My dislike for the big banks and Wall Street's rigged games makes me hope that Obama, who doesn't have the balls to face down the banks directly, out of political motivations allows the Occupy movement to build and foment public outrage against the 1%, which he would then attempt to equate Romney with, making himself seem the lesser of two evils (both suck; they want the power and prestige, not a better future for out children).

In this way the big banks would be collateral damage of election politics.  Couldn't happen to a nicer group of corporations, er people.  I only see this happening if polls suggest Romney is going to win and Obama becomes desperate.  We'll have to see how the Occupy movement goes this summer.  It is interesting that the DNC convention is in Charlotte, the headquartes of BAC.



Al Gorerhythm's picture

These are the days of our lives.

Gully Foyle's picture

We all know Romney is selected already.

But here is what's interesting.

Remember how Obama was shoved to the forefront at the Democratic convention in 2004? Nice speech, kind of a cool guy with the smoking and smooth talk.

Well Big Love was designed to prepare the world for Romney. Bill was a nice self made man who pulled himself up from literally the gutter to be elected to a state office.

Big Love softened how America views Mormons, and conflated Bill with Romney in more ways than one.

Which make me wonder just how far in advance do TPTB vet candidates? College? High school?

And how much persuasion is presented to channel citizens into the "right" direction. What timeline is everything run on.

Then again maybe I just read too many conspiracy sites.

williambanzai7's picture

Actually what we know is Obamney is a hedge.

Disenchanted's picture




Neither one of em is worth a pound of rancid horseshit.

Disenchanted's picture



apologies to my junker, yes I was wrong...


I should have said neither one of em is worth a half a pound of rancid horseshit.


duly chastened...and junked myself above.

victor82's picture

Do you think when Romney gave his audition speech in front of the Banksters he used cue cards? Maybe he juggled. I'm sure he lost to Palin in the swimsuit competition, though.

tarsubil's picture

Who the fuck is Big Love? WTF are you talking about?

Tsukato's picture

 Online I found a list of "bad words" which red flag emails, texts, etc. by the authorities. I thought to myself " most people are too afraid to ever rise up against the man, but perhaps there is some passive-aggressive action that most people could be bothered to do, and could keep the g-men busy/overloaded". This list of words should be spread to everyone, and attached at the end of every message we all write online, during chat, emails, etc. Please take this list, and pass it along to everyone you know. Thanks and vaya con Dios. Here is where to find the list:

rotagen's picture

Why not compare pig feces to cow feces?  Same difference.

knukles's picture

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
The test of leadership:
Does one transport the family pooch on the roof, eat the family pooch or quit listening to others screw the pooch?

victor82's picture

May the man who junks you for this post die the death of a thousand screams. 

GMadScientist's picture

Convince the plebes they're your pooch.