Bain vs. Solyndra: Who did a better job investing in America?

| August 15 2012
Hannah Thoreson

One of the claims currently being used to rebuff the Romney-Ryan argument that fiscal reform is needed is that plans proposed so far ignore the need to “invest” in the economy.  But who actually has a better record investing in America:  Mitt Romney at Bain Capital, or President Obama with your tax dollars?

Using private funds, Mitt Romney invested in Sports Authority, Staples, and numerous other private companies — taking some of them from small, regional brands to being household names.  Others he helped to rescue from failure.

Romney was one of the first investors in Staples, helping it to get off the ground.

 “Romney agreed to put $600,000 of Bain Capital money into the new venture,” and within a few years, he had made back eight times his money while contributing to the launch of a successful national company.

Similarly, Romney helped to transform The Sports Authority into a huge business.

Romney and Co. were “among a handful of venture-capital firms that helped found the Sports Authority” by forking over much-needed cash in exchange for a minority stake, says The Washington Post. At the time, Sports Authority had fewer than 10 stores, and was hungry for money to fuel its expansion. By the time Romney left Bain, Sports Authority had exploded, and employed nearly 14,000 people across the country.

Bain Capital itself has been a massive success.  Mitt Romney was there “on day one”, in campaign-speak.  And now, 28 years later, the company has created $105 billion in value and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

President Obama has also attempted to become involved in the world of venture capital, albeit by playing with taxpayer money.  Unfortunately, his track record is not as good.  Solyndra, Ener1, Beacon Power, Abound Solar, Amonix, SpectraWatt, and Eastern Energy have all gone bankrupt.

Mitt Romney has been hesitant to discuss his work at Bain Capital because his opponents have focused on the negative aspects of what the free market does.  But the reality is, we are all much better off with these companies in the economy creating jobs and delivering goods and services with a high level of efficiency than we would be without them — which is probably where we’d be if Obama had been the CEO of Bain.

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