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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney Says He Opposes The Government Picking Winner And Losers, But That’s The Same Approach He Took In Massachusetts

Romney Claims He Opposes Government Giving Financial Support To Specific Enterprises

Romney Said Instead Of “Picking Winners And Losers With Taxpayer Dollars” Entrepreneurs Would Get Fair Shot And All Businesses Would Play By The Same Rules. According to Romney For President, during a speech before the Newspaper Association, Romney said “Seven months ago, I presented a detailed plan for jobs and economic growth, including 59 different proposals that would help strengthen the economy.  I understand some people are amused that I have so many ideas. But I think the American people will prefer it to President Obama’s grand total of zero. I will cut marginal tax rates across the board for individuals and corporations, and limit deductions and exclusions.  I will repeal burdensome regulations, and prevent the bureaucracy from writing new ones.  I will unleash our domestic energy resources so that we can finally get the energy we need at a price we can afford. Instead of picking winners and losers with taxpayer dollars, I will make sure that every entrepreneur gets a fair shot and that every business plays by the same rules. I will create an environment where our businesses and workers can compete and win.  I will welcome the best and the brightest to our shores, and ensure that we have labor and training policies that help American workers to be more competitive.” [Romney For President, 4/4/12]

Romney Called The Government’s “Choosing Winners And Losers” Among Companies A Terrible Ideas. In an interview with Brian Kilmeade, Romney said, “The idea that the federal government can become a venture capital institution, choosing winners and losers among various companies is a terrible idea, and that’s been proven time and time again. Look, the right course for the federal government as it relates to research and development is in basic science. Programs like NASA develop technologies that ultimately can be commercialized. But for the government to say ‘oh, we think the world should make this kind of car’ or ‘that kind of solar panel’, that’s almost certain to fail. Now and then there will be a winner, but overwhelmingly they’re going to be losers. Let the private market work. Government does not know better than free people and free enterprise, how to grow an economy.” [Kilmeade and Friends, 9/16/11]

 

Romney Picked “Winners And Losers” Through Loan Programs In Massachusetts

Romney Attacked President Obama Over “Crony Capitalism” But Picked Winners And Losers Through A Loan Program As Governor. According to Talking Points Memo, “After one of his worst weeks of the election, Mitt Romney is trying to regain control of his campaign by going on offense against President Obama over what he alleges is ‘crony capitalism.’ All of the charges Romney cites to back up his claim have been around for months, if not years. Solyndra, for example, has been a GOP punching bag for years, and Romney personally made a big show of visiting its headquarters in May for a press conference attacking Obama…. The original clean-energy program was hardly some Democratic scheme: It was created by President Bush, whose administration was already considering Solyndra’s loan application when Obama took office. Nor is Romney able to make much of an argument on pure free market grounds — he picked winners and losers using similar loan programs as governor in Massachusetts.” [Talking Points Memo, 7/16/12]

Romney Spokesman Ryan Williams Said Romney “Never Advocated” For Government Acting As Venture Capitalist. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “‘Governor Romney has never advocated for the government playing the role of venture capitalist,’ Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. ‘In Massachusetts, he asked independent private managers to invest the funds that the state had already committed to green- energy projects, and he vetoed a proposal for additional spending.’” [Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 6/11/12]

 

Massachusetts Gave Loans To Companies That Failed

Romney Lured Desirable Companies To Massachusetts Through Tax Breaks And Special Incentives. According to Reuters, From 2003 to 2007, Romney “pursued a hands-on approach to economic development that favored some industries over others and, in some instances, singled out individual firms for special favors. Romney, a former private equity executive, backed tax breaks for film makers and biotech and medical-device manufacturers. His administration promoted venture capital-style funds that extended loans to start-up companies, some of which subsequently went out of business. As the state’s top salesman, he led the effort to lure desirable employers through tax breaks and other incentives.” [Reuters, 05/30/12]

Romney Signed Off On $12.5 Million Emergency Technology Fund To Help High Risk Technology Startups, Which Lost An Undisclosed Amount On A $2 Million Loan. According to Reuters, “Romney also signed off on a $12.5 million Emergency Technology fund for the state to help high-risk technology startups. The program since then has aided companies like E Ink, which developed the technology used in Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader, but has also lost money on some of its investments. Along with Spherics, the program lost an undisclosed amount of money on a $2 million loan to biotech firm Acusphere, according to MassDevelopment.” [Reuters, 05/30/12]

Romney’s Administration Used Incentives To Promote Green-Energy Fund And Energy-Efficient Projects. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “As governor, Romney’s administration employed the same incentives used by Obama. He promoted a green-energy fund backed by the state as a ‘major economic springboard,’ and oversaw an increase in support for renewable and energy-efficiency projects. Like Solyndra, some of the companies funded by the state have failed. ‘Massachusetts is a living, breathing microcosm as to why clean energy makes sense,’ Rob Pratt, who directed the state’s green-energy effort for three years under Romney, said in an interview. ‘This acceleration started under Romney.’ A 2011 report found more than 64,000 clean-energy jobs in Massachusetts, up from a few thousand at the beginning of Romney’s four-year term, Pratt said. Romney left office in 2007.” [Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 6/11/12]

Three Of Twelve Ventures Funded By Gov. Romney’s “Massachusetts Green Energy Fund” Failed. According to Bloomberg, “A $17 million, state-backed green- energy fund created during Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts invested in a dozen companies, three of which have since closed, according to the fund’s manager. It’s too soon to judge the overall success, though some projects have taken longer than expected to provide a return, William Osborn, a founding partner at the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund LP, said in an interview. […]The green fund managed by Osborn invested in Konarka Technologies Inc., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based company that filed for liquidation and fired about 80 workers last week. Osborn declined to say how much the fund invested in the company. The fund also backed CTP Hydrogen Inc. in Southborough, Massachusetts, which has since shut down. Osborn said one other company, which he wouldn’t name, also closed.” [Bloomberg, 6/6/12]

Some Companies That Received Subsidies From Massachusetts Faltered. According to Politico, “Massachusetts did bank millions when it sold shares of Evergreen Solar stock offered as part of its payback for the initial loan. But that early investment was followed by tens of millions more from Romney’s successor, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, and it all ended up backfiring when the company filed last year for Chapter 11. Some of the companies that landed coveted spots in the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund also have stumbled. Fuel cell company CTP Hydrogen Inc., another initial member of the Green Energy Fund, shut down in 2008, laying off most of its 10-person staff. And after failing to make a profit, fuel cell developer Protonex Technology Corp. delisted in 2010 from an alternative arm of the London Stock Exchange and laid off a third of its employees and closed a Colorado plant.” [Politico, 2/6/12]

 

Konarka

Romney-Backed Green Energy Firm Konarka Technologies Filed For Bankruptcy Protection And Planned To Liquidate Assets And Lay Off More Than 80 Workers. According to Politico, “A Massachusetts solar company to which Mitt Romney personally delivered a $1.5 million loan when he was governor has gone belly up, leaving him vulnerable to the same ‘picking winners and losers’ charges that he’s been lobbing at President Barack Obama over Solyndra. The president’s reelection campaign wasted no time noting Romney’s support for Lowell-based Konarka Technologies, which announced Friday it had filed for bankruptcy protection with plans to lay off more than 80 workers and liquidate its assets. The filing came on the heels of Romney’s unannounced visit last week to Solyndra’s Silicon Valley headquarters, where he accused the Obama administration of a conflict of interest and poor judgment in approving Solyndra’s $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee.” [Politico, 6/4/12]

Romney Gave $1.5 Million To Solar Startup Konarka For New Assembly Line. According to Politico, “If the federal government shouldn’t be betting on one company rather than the other, then neither should the state of Massachusetts. ‘It’s exactly the kind of thing he’d say you invest in, that you win some, you lose some,’ said Sonia Hamel, a former special assistant who handled climate issues for Romney in the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development. ‘It does seem hypocritical.’ Just under three weeks into his term as governor, Romney brought a $1.5 million check to Konarka, a well-connected solar startup in Lowell, Mass., itching to buy a new pilot production assembly line.” [Politico, 2/6/12]

In January 2003, Romney Personally Delivered A $1.5 Million Check To Konarka Executives. According to Politico, “In January 2003, just less than three weeks into his term as governor, Romney handed a check to Konarka executives during a news conference that also involved giving out subsidies to four other renewable energy companies. One of the other winners announced that day — Evergreen Solar — has already undercut Romney’s Solyndra attacks by filing last year for bankruptcy protection.” [Politico, 6/4/12]

 

Spherics & Acusphere

Massachusetts Loaned $4.5 Million To Firms Run By Romney Campaign Donors That Defaulted Owing The State $2.1 Million. According to The Boston Herald, “GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has hammered President Obama for his administration’s tax-funded investment blunders — but when Romney was governor, the state handed out $4.5 million in loans to two firms run by his campaign donors that have since defaulted, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. The two companies — Acusphere and Spherics Inc. — stiffed the state on nearly $2.1 million in loans provided through the state’s Emerging Technology Fund, a $25 million investment program created while Romney was governor in 2003 that benefitted 13 local firms… Together, the two companies’ investors and executives donated more than $7,000 to Romney’s past campaigns.” [The Boston Herald, 12/1/11]

The Loan Advisory Board Contained Two Romney Appointees And Three Romney Contributors. According to The Boston Herald, “The loans were approved by a seven-person advisory board that included two Romney appointees and three Romney campaign contributors, a Herald review found. News of the Bay State companies’ failures come as Romney has slammed Obama for backing $500 million in government loans to now-bankrupt Solyndra. ‘These guys were living high because it was government money. That’s the difference between the private sector and the governmental sector,’ Romney said last week, slamming Solyndra.” [The Boston Herald, 12/1/11]

Spherics Inc. Laid Off All Employees And Defaulted Three Years After Receiving $2 Million Loan From Massachusetts. According to The Boston Herald, “Spherics Inc., meanwhile, was lured from Rhode Island to Mans–field with much fanfare from the Romney administration, partly through a $2 million loan in 2005. By 2008, the company laid off all employees and completely shut down. The state received about $300,000 when the company liquidated its assets, but the firm defaulted on more than $1.5 million of the state loan, Abbruzzese said.” [The Boston Herald, 12/1/11]

Romney Awarded $2.5 Million State Loan To Rhode Island Firm Spherics Inc. Which Shut Down Three Years Later, Layed Off All Of Its Employees And Defaulted On $1.5 Million Of The Loan. According to Reuters, “Sometimes, as with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Romney’s efforts panned out. Other times they did not. A $2.5 million state loan helped lure Rhode Island biotech firm Spherics Inc across the state line to Massachusetts in 2005. Romney’s economic development secretary, Ranch Kimball, touted the move as ‘a tangible result of the combined and coordinated efforts of the public and private sectors to highlight the benefits of locating in Massachusetts.’ The company shut down three years later, laying off all of its employees and defaulting on $1.5 million of the loan, according to MassDevelopment, the state development authority.” [Reuters, 05/30/12]

MassDevelopment Gave “High Risk” Loans To Spherics Inc. Which Shut Down And Acusphere Inc. Which Downsized. According to The Boston Globe, “The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency – a quasi-public agency that lends money, makes grants, and develops government property to stimulate new investment – has seen a surge in troubled loans because of the weak economy… Some high-risk loans, though, are never repaid. Last year, for instance, MassDevelopment charged off portions of loans to two small drug makers: $1.5 million to Spherics Inc., a biotech firm that relocated from Rhode Island to Mansfield with aid from the state, but wound up shutting down in 2008 and $568,458 to Acusphere Inc. in Tewksbury, a specialty pharmaceutical firm that downsized after struggling to win regulatory approval for its primary product… Still, MassDevelopment says taxpayers won’t necessarily bear the brunt of the losses.” [The Boston Globe, 5/10/10]

Biotech Firm Acusphere Received $2 Million In 2004 For Manufacturing Facility That Never Became Operational. According to The Boston Herald, “Acusphere, a biotechnology firm headed by a Romney campaign donor, got $2 million in 2004 that it was supposed to put toward a $20 million manufacturing facility in Tewksbury, which never became fully operational. Calls to Acusphere’s headquarters in Lexington were not returned. According to MassDevelopment, the quasi-public state agency that oversees the technology fund, Acusphere defaulted on the loan after a ‘nearly complete shutdown’ in 2008. A confidential settlement was reached in which a portion of the loan was repaid, MassDevelopment spokeswoman Kelsey Abbruzzese said. She said the company defaulted on the remainder of the loan after the Food and Drug Administration rejected approval of the firm’s top product, a heart medication.” [The Boston Herald, 12/1/11]