Fact check: Romney struggles on jobs claim

By Calvin Woodward

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 8:16 p.m. MST

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (L-R) participate in a Republican presidential candidate debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.

Elise Amendola, Associated Press

Editor's note: An occasional look at how well politicians' statements adhere to the facts.

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney took heat in weekend Republican presidential debates for his claims that he created great numbers of jobs in the private sector. Newt Gingrich, for one, said Romney's record as a venture capitalist was one of flipping companies, taking out all the money and "leaving behind the workers."

Who's right?

The bottom line remains unknown about how many jobs were gained or lost from Romney's work at the Bain Capital private equity company. But this much is clear: His accounting behind the assertion that he created more than 100,000 jobs at companies he helped start up or turn around has been flawed.

A look at some of the claims in the GOP debates Saturday night and Sunday morning, about the candidates or President Barack Obama, and how they compare with the facts:

RON PAUL: "I don't see how we can do well against Obama if we have any candidate that, you know, endorsed, you know, single-payer systems and TARP bailouts and don't challenge the Federal Reserve's $15 trillion of injection bailing out their friends."

THE FACTS: There are no fans of a government-run, single-payer health insurance in the Republican field, despite Paul's suggestion otherwise Sunday. Gingrich once endorsed the idea of requiring everyone to have health insurance, and Romney introduced a mandate for health coverage as Massachusetts governor. But that's a far cry from a Canadian-style health system that makes government the primary payer of people's medical bills.

TARP is the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that was proposed by President George W. Bush and passed by Congress in 2008 to help rescue banks and other imperiled financial institutions. Nearly all of the money has been paid back, with interest.

Paul's slam against the Fed ignores the fact that most of the $15 trillion he is talking about involved loans that were quickly repaid.

ROMNEY: "But in the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net ... net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs."

GINGRICH: "I'm not nearly as enamored of a Wall Street model where you can flip companies, you can go in and have leveraged buyouts, you can basically take out all the money, leaving behind the workers."

THE FACTS: Romney has never substantiated his frequent claim that he was a creator of more than 100,000 jobs while leading the Bain Capital private equity company. His campaign merely cites success stories without laying out the other side of the ledger — jobs lost at Bain-acquired or Bain-supported firms that closed, trimmed their workforce or shifted employment overseas.

Moreover, his campaign bases its claims on recent employment figures at three companies — Staples, Domino's and Sports Authority — even though Romney's involvement with them ceased years ago.

By that sort of charitable math, President Barack Obama could be credited with creating over 1 million jobs even though employment overall is down about 2 million since he came to office. But Romney accuses Obama of destroying jobs while using a different standard to judge his own performance — cherry-picked examples that leave everything else out.

By its nature, venture capitalism often results in lost jobs because profitability and efficiency are key to investors, not how many people are on the payroll. Bain Capital profited in cases where employment went both up and down.

Staples, now with close to 90,000 employees, and Sports Authority, with about 15,000, were startups supported by Romney. The direct workforce at Domino's has grown by nearly 8,000 since Romney's intervention. But Romney got out of the game in 1999, which has not stopped his campaign from crediting him with jobs created at those companies since then.

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