How Many Jobs Did Romney Create At Bain?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 30 2012 @ 10:34am

Steve Kaplan tries to do the math:

Among Bain Capital’s investments under Romney, the large job creators are clearly Staples and Sports Authority. Both of these were small, young companies when Bain 6a00d83451c45669e20167610eb4f7970b-800wiCapital invested in them. Bain invested in Staples when it had only one store, so there were likely fewer than 200 employees at the time. Bain appears to have invested in the Sports Authority when it had fewer than ten stores. Unfortunately, there are no public data to say how many people were employed at that time. At the end of 1998, Staples had more than 42,000 employees, Sports Authority had almost 14,000, Gartner Group had almost 3,000, and Steel Dynamics had over 500. So at the beginning of 1999, when Romney left Bain Capital, these four companies alone employed almost 60,000 total employees. While some of the job growth at Sports Authority came from acquisitions, there is no doubt that these four companies created tens of thousands of jobs over the period.

Here's the problem with that calculation:

Romney is effectively taking credit for every job Staples has ever created … even though Bain provided just 10 percent of the seed money for the company.

Here's how Jonathan Last put it in his recent article:

We don’t credit the jobs created by McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Apple to the money men. We credit them to Ray Kroc, Bernard Marcus, Arthur Blank, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak. Because those men had the ideas, ran the operations, and assumed most of the risk. It’s unclear why we should regard Romney’s role with Staples any differently.

How Romney used to talk about his job creation:

[During the 1994 Senate campaign Romney] emphasized that he always used the word "helped" and didn’t take full credit for the jobs. "That’s why I’m always very careful to use the words ‘help create,' " he acknowledged. "Bain Capital, or Mitt Romney, ‘helped create’ over 10,000 jobs. I don’t take credit for the jobs at Staples. I helped create the jobs at Staples."

(Photo: By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)