Journalists have been eager to find something scandalous in Mitt Romney’s private-equity career. As a result, there’s been a fair share of confused reporting about Romney’s Bain Capital days. Such is the case with a set of breathless articles from the Associated Press and Mother Jones, regarding investments made by two of Bain Capital’s subsidiaries, Sankaty Advisors and Brookside Capital. As I used to work at Brookside, I thought it would be worth bringing some perspective to this discussion.
Much of the case against Romney’s business career involves whether or not Bain or its subsidiaries were involved in outsourcing. Now, I happen to think that free trade makes low-income Americans more prosperous by making goods and services less costly. I also think it’s great that people in developing countries can lift themselves up from poverty by selling stuff to us. My friends on the left oppose these things. Fine by me. That debate is outside the scope of this article. What I want to straighten out is another issue: Which of Bain Capital’s investments is it fair to hold Mitt Romney accountable for?
The answer: He is accountable for the investments in which he actually made the decisions. If I have my 401(k) invested in the Fidelity Select Health Care Fund, am I responsible for every decision made by the portfolio manager at Fidelity?
Obviously not. The same goes for Mitt Romney.
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