Mitt Romney once owned a credit-rating agency

Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica reports on Mitt Romney’s history with Bain Capital:

In 1996, an investment group including Bain Capital, the firm then run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, sold the consumer credit information business Experian to a British retailer, making a $500 million profit.

Eisinger goes on to detail the shadier aspects of that deal and the lawsuits that followed. Feel free to wade through that if you like. I just want to highlight what I think is even worse: Mitt Romney once owned Experian.

For a small monthly fee, credit-rating agencies will allow you to inspect your report and attempt to correct the errors they’ve included in order to ensure that you’ll want to pay that monthly fee.

Experian is one of the big three credit-rating agencies. Credit-rating agencies rule your life.

Your “credit score” is used to determine how much more than Mitt Romney you will have to pay for mortgages and car loans and other forms of credit. It may also be used to charge you more than Mitt Romney is charged for insurance and other goods and services. And it may be used to deny you employment. The credit-rating business model is based on your score being both inaccurate and inadequate — deliberately so, or else the protection racket they’re running wouldn’t work. And yet the credit-rating agencies are largely unchecked and unrestrained in their ability to restrict your freedom and the freedom of every other American.

The good news for the credit-rating dependent (i.e., everyone) is that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is beginning to rein-in the unchecked abuses of the credit-rating agencies. The bad news is that if Mitt Romney is elected president, he will likely de-fund and de-fang the new agency, letting Experian, Equifax and TransUnion run their protection racket without having to worry about their “scores” being accurate.

Mitt Romney once owned Experian. Mitt Romney once owned freaking Experian.

* * * * * * * * *

• “The main draw of the audiobook is that it’s actually narrated by Obama. …” I had not fully appreciated the implications of that, which are hilariously wonderful and NSFW.

• So is Pat Buchanan still saying outrageous things that sound really racist? Why, yes, yes he is.

• Liz Cheney is criticizing President Obama’s policy toward Czechoslovakia, ignoring the fact that her father and the rest of the George W. Bush administration had the exact same policy toward Czechoslovakia. And so did the Clinton administration. Obama, Bush and Clinton had the same policy toward Czechoslovakia because that country ceased to exist before any of them became president.

• The key point in this story is that the plane landed safely and everyone is OK.

Sarah Silverman explains voter suppression. SSTNSFW. (Sarah Silverman, Therefore, Not Safe For Work.)

• “It’d be helpful if they’d been Latino. …”

  • Guest

    Before reading your definition of SSTNSFW, I came up with So, So TOTALLY Not Safe For Work

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Thanks for an interesting and informative post.

    I share your view of credit agencies.

    Sure, I’ll give Romney a pass on the airplane windows.  But I cannot give him a pass on the “47%”, which seems to be deeply held conservative mythology.  And, sure, what Pat Buchanan says is no real surprise.

  • Magic_Cracker

    In Romney’s defense, he only owned it long enough to flip it for a profit. It’s not like he actually gave a shit about the products and services or lack thereof offered by Experian or any other company he’s ever owned.

  • Carstonio

    Surprised that Liz Chaney didn’t mention Obama’s despicable betrayal of Yugoslavia or West Germany or Basutoland.

    If Chaney were simply a commenter on Facebook or a site like this one, I might blame her comment on simple ignorance or a brain fart. But a professional commentator doesn’t get such a convenient excuse. Like the Party substituting Eurasia for Eastasia, the names of the enemies and allies don’t matter. The point is to create a climate of fear where the US is surrounded by diabolical enemies outside its borders and traitorous wimps inside its borders.

  • bulbul

    Czechoslovakia shall live forever, both in the hearts of those of us who lived there and in the minds of those too dumb to notice it’s been gone for almost 20 years…

  • aunursa

    If Chaney were simply a commenter on Facebook or a site like this one, I might blame her comment on simple ignorance or a brain fart. But a professional commentator doesn’t get such a convenient excuse.

    “We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad.”

    “The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries.”

    “It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian, wheeling and dealing.”

    “No, no. I have been practicing…I bowled a 129. It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

    “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.”

    “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.”

  • Carstonio

     Are you deliberately being obtuse? Of course politicians of both parties have made verbal gaffes or said things that were false, and obviously the latter is wrong no matter who says it. No one here disputes that. The issue is that Chaney said something that was false for the purpose of demagoguery and xenophobia.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I still wonder if the airplane window thing was just huge satire. Nobody’s that stupid, are they?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Did I hear a “so’s your old man” again?

    Is there an opinion poll for that?

  • AnonymousSam

    Here’s a better one.

    <false equivalency>

    “The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.”

    Clearly this proves that Romney’s system is far superior and that we should switch over to Massachusetts’s system.

    </false equivalency>

  • EllieMurasaki

    Clearly this proves that Romney’s system is far superior and that we should switch over to Massachusetts’s system.

    Obamacare is Romneycare. The only difference is who gets credit.

  • AnonaMiss

    Let’s give Liz Cheney a break on Czechoslovakia – iff what she said was true of the Czech Republic. Even I, who am only 5 years older than the Czech Republic, slip up and call it Czechoslovakia sometimes. It’s just such a fun name.

    Czechoslovakia. Hee.

  • Robyrt

     True enough. Romney probably had no idea what Experian actually did, past the one-paragraph vision statement on their quarterly income report. His firm only owned the company for 7 weeks before selling it at a staggering 70% markup. (Now that’s a business deal I’d like to be on the right side of.) So I’ll give him a pass on this one.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Yes, it might have been satire.  But that 47% speech was not satire.

  • AnonymousSam

    And both of them are very like Richard Nixon’s proposed system, which he put forth about the time he realized just how badly he’d screwed up with the HMO bill. XD

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    This stuff is sad, even for you. C’mon, we expect better from our trolls. Not this C- grade stuff.

  • MaryKaye

    Three years ago I crossed the Austrian/Czech border with a vanload of people, many of whom had last been there when it was the Austrian/Czechoslovakian border.  The checkpoint building was still there:  a massive fort-like thing painted in one of the strange pastel colors that seem to be typical of the Communist building era.  But it was dark and empty.  The people in the van murmured, then fell silent.  We sped through on the road, not stopping.  A kilometer or so later everyone was talking about how much the world had changed, to make that not-stopping possible.  No guards; no machine guns; not even a weigh station or toll booth.

    This is how I remember that it’s not Czechoslovakia anymore, which would otherwise trip me up too.

  • Tricksterson

    I am now overwhelmed by a desire for there to be an Intercontinental Railroad.  And I don’t mean just one from northern Canada to southern Chile, or Geat Britain to China although those would be cool in and of thenselves.  I want one from say, San Francisco to Tokyo and beyond.  Or New York to London.  Or heck, build all of them one vast global railroad.

  • aunursa

    Was she referring to Czech Republic and said Czechoslovakia by mistake? If politicians of both parties make verbal gaffes — and they do — then the relevant issue is the alleged demagoguery and xenophobia, not the verbal gaffe.

  • aunursa

    No, I agree with our host’s argument. Romney is a terrible person because his investment firm once owned a credit rating agency.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I hope you’re being sarcastic and you don’t actually think Fred was arguing that Romney is a horrible person because of his previous ownership of Experian. Because the issue here, quite clearly, is the raw financial power inherent in being able to own Experian, which, combined with Romney’s utter fuckwittedness when it comes to anyone earning under a quarter million dollars (which is the whole fucking country give or take at most a single percentage point), makes Romney unsuited to be President.

  • Victor

    (((This stuff is sad, even for you. C’mon, we expect better from our trolls. Not this C- grade stuff.)))

    Nathaniel, I won’t get into Politics, Prose and Other Things like that when I tell you this little joke that I heard when I was a teenacher. For some reason (s), “IT” has been in my memory bank cells for more that half a century and GOD (Good Old Dad) only knows why!

    Anyway once ‘UP ON A TIME’, three Christians died, the first person was told by Saint Peter  that before he could get into heaven he had to answer one questions.

    Long story short, the second was also asked the same question and the answer to that question was also given which was “GOD”.

    Now when the third was asked, “how do you spell “GOD”” and after about five minutes of  giving peter a LOT of so called diplomatic political advice, finally agreed to take part and then was asked,

    Please spell Czechoslovakia! :)

    Peace  

  • The_L1985

     ….”INefficiencies?”

  • AnonymousSam

    That’s the quotation. That’s a gaffe. To paraphrase Freud, it’s when you mean one thing and say your mother.

  • Carstonio

    We can’t assume that this was an honest mistake. My theory is that Chaney was operating from a deliberate and arrogant disregard of the truth. The same mentality that led her to mischaracterize Obama’s treatment of the other two nations as sellouts may have also led her to pull the name of the old nation from her memory. Probably Obama’s actual treatment of those nations doesn’t fit her Dirty Harry belief that he seeks to leave the US and its allies vulnerable before the barbarian hordes. The same mentality that leads many to mischaracterize Obama’s speeches overseas as apologies for the US, or health care reform as one small step away from communism.

  • P J Evans

    Nobody’s that stupid, are they?

    They keep trying to convince us that it was a joke. If it was, then Romney is the world’s worst joke-teller.

  • Lori

    If it was, then Romney is the world’s worst joke-teller.  

    Which, to be fair, is entirely possible and would in fact not be surprising.

  • Fusina

    Regarding the credit scoring agencies. When I learned that your score went down when you opened a credit card account, or closed a credit card account, or owed too much money, or paid off a debt, I started guessing that they were just leeches in the system, because you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  And they don’t even have a good reason for their existence, even  leeches have their place in the world–I vaguely remember reading about how they can help in cases of replacing fingers etc…by keeping the excess blood to a minimum while the injury heals. Very cool, IMO.

  • Lori

    I hope you’re being sarcastic and you don’t actually think Fred was
    arguing that Romney is a horrible person because of his previous
    ownership of Experian. Because the issue here, quite clearly, is the raw
    financial power inherent in being able to own Experian, which,
    combined with Romney’s utter fuckwittedness when it comes to anyone
    earning under a quarter million dollars (which is the whole fucking
    country give or take at most a single percentage point), makes Romney
    unsuited to be President. 

    I think there is a critique to be made of owning Experian in the same way there’s a critique to be made of owning any business that profits off human suffering, in significant part by creating that suffering. I’d put it somewhere between owning sweatshops or dealing diamonds of dubious provenance and say, the credit card division of a major bank. It’s an ugly business and getting into it voluntarily says something about a person. It’s no surprise at all that aunursa doesn’t want to grasp that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. (Perhaps there’ a poll we could consult.)

    Given the incredibly quick turnaround between purchase and sale I think a good argument could be made that such a critique doesn’t really apply to Mitt in this case*, but I’m also willing to entertain the idea that it does.

    *Obviously there are other critiques which do apply, some specifically because of the quick sale, and other people have made them.

  • Joshua

    This idea that Romney was joking is kinda hilarious to me.

    He’s let his campaign be derailed again and had to go off-message defending his statements again because he allegedly told a joke that you can’t identify as a joke from a written transcript about that time his wife was exposed to a fire in dangerous circumstances.

    Not knowing about air pressure is pretty scary, but let’s face it, not too relevant knowledge for the job he is after. Managing the media, projecting a tasteful personality and staying on message are.

    Your elections are so much more fun than my own.

  • Joshua


    I hope you’re being sarcastic and you don’t actually think Fred was arguing that Romney is a horrible person because of his previous ownership of Experian.

    My reading of Fred’s post is exactly that, that Romney is a horrible person because he owned Experian. Fred doesn’t seem to like Experian much.

  • Fusina

     That he alleges he was joking says that perhaps he should not attempt to be a comedian.

    And, um, glad we could amuse you. Also, thank you for helping us to find perspective. Sometimes, I think we get a little too intense. Thankfully, we have a chance every two years to get it — well, more right anyway. Or left, depending on how you lean. ;)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Well, no, of course he doesn’t, but Romney didn’t own the company long enough to affect how it operated even in a small way, and to deal with all Fred’s grievances against Experian would require changing the company’s operations in many large ways. We’ve got enough reasons to think Romney is a horrible person and unfit to be President without needing to bring in things that had his name on but that he didn’t otherwise have anything to do with.

    The frightening thing about Romney having owned Experian is that he could have, had he chosen, continued to own Experian, and then all that power over people’s financial lives would be in a single pair of hands. Concentration of power like that is fucking terrifying.

  • Kiba

    My Mom had to go see another back doctor today. One of the questions on the form she had to fill out was: how much bad debt do you have. 

  • Lori

    Romney didn’t own the company long enough to affect how it operated even in a small way 

    But he owned it long enough to make money off its rather nasty business model, which was the point of the purchase and also I suspect the point of Fred’s comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Not knowing about air pressure is pretty scary, but let’s face it, not too relevant knowledge for the job he is after.

    Sounds like somebody hasn’t seen the Harrison Ford/Gary Oldman movie Air Force One.  (No Rayford Steele in that fully-loaded 747!)

  • AnonymousSam

    This. I had the same interpretation, as much for the quick sale as for the purchase itself. Romney looked at an empire built upon exploitation and suffering, and his only thought was “I can make money off of this.”

  • Donalbain

    Romney is painfully stupid when it comes to matters of science. He thinks that opening windows in commercial airliners is a good idea. He thinks that adding oxygen to a fire is a good idea. He thinks that cold fusion has been solved. http://www.alternet.org/mitt-romney-endorsed-bonkers-quack-science-cold-fusion-americas-energy-solution

  • Joshua

    Was that the one where Steven Seagal got randomly killed half way through trying to board a plane? Or was that another one?

    OK, boarding aircraft in flight can sometimes be important for a president.

  • Lori

    I think Steven Seagal actually got killed about a quarter of the way through, but yes, that’s the one.

  • Ross Thompson

    Was that the one where Steven Seagal got randomly killed half way through trying to board a plane? Or was that another one?

    No, that was Executive Decision.

  • aunursa

    I agree with our host and I agree with you.  Romney is unsuitable to be president because he is just too damn rich!

  • aunursa

    We can’t assume that this was an honest mistake.

    I agree.  Only Democrats, who are looking out for our best interests when they’re not compromising them away, make honest mistakes.  We should never give a pass to the Evil Republicans, who deliberately lie and know they can get away with it, because the media will always give them a pass.

  • JustoneK

    Well, there goes the Good Faith argument from aunursa.  Bravo on attempting to keep the facade for a while there.

  • The_L1985

    Kinds of rich people:

    “I worked my way up, so I know how hard it is to be working class.  Let me help you out, so that some of you might become as well-off as I am.”

    “I worked my way up, and now that I’ve got mine, screw ALL OF YOU.  I’m rich, you’re not, neener-neener-neener.”

    “I inherited my wealth.  Because I didn’t earn it, I see no reason it should make me superior to other people.”

    “I inherited my wealth.  But I’m going to pretend that somehow I am wealthy through my own merit, instead of just being lucky enough to be born to That Rich Guy.  Why on earth should I bother to know or care about poor people?  I’ll never be one!”

    Romney is type 4. If I had to vote for someone filthy rich, I’d prefer a type 1. Hel, even type 3 is better than the narcissistic cruelty evident in types 2 and 4.

  • AliciaB

    I think that’s the thing that a lot of right-wingers don’t seem to get. It’s not just about being “rich”. Lots of politicians that liberals love are rich. FDR and JFK have backgrounds more or less similar to Romney’s; FDR came from an extremely wealthy and old New York pedigree; one side of his family was even on the Mayflower, and he had a more or less aristocratic background. JFK was the same way, and like Romney his family had basically always been prominently involved in state and federal politics long before he was even born.

    No one really expects that someone like Romney or Kennedy or Roosevelt really knows what it’s like to be poor on a personal level. I mean, how would they? The difference is that Romney just doesn’t care to find out and he doesn’t think that people who aren’t rich really matter.

    He doesn’t care to understand, intellectually if not emotionally, the differences between his life and that of, for example, a working-class single parent. He doesn’t really care about the impact of the recession on the working poor and he doesn’t really understand why that he should. He doesn’t seem to know that most people don’t have parents who can just give them stock options or a trust fund, or give them a grant or a loan for a business. 

    I know this because he more or less says it every single time he opens his mouth in public. He’s not concerned about the well-being of and he doesn’t even see it as his role to care about them or empathize with them in anyway. 

    It’s not that he’s rich. It’s that he doesn’t really care enough about other people to be a good leader of people. 

  • Lori

    Crap. You’re right. I somehow merged Kurt Russel in a tux with Harrison Ford in a suit. No excuse for that.

  • Lori

    That’s not what Ellie said and you aren’t making her look unreasonable.

  • Lori

    One difference between FDR & JFK and Romney is that both FDR & JFK had meaningful contact with people outside their rarefied circles (beyond having them as servants), FDR at Warm Springs and JFK in the Navy. Mittens has not only never lived a different life, he doesn’t seem to have bothered to get to know very many people who have. His only substantial contact with people outside his wealthy circle seems to have been in the church. Even there Mitt was a leader and the Mormon church is very hierarchical, so he wasn’t meeting people as equals but as, to quote from Daily Kos’ ongoing joke about him, “Mitt Romney, your better”. It’s not much of a surprise that the experience didn’t have any obvious impact on him and that he apparently wasn’t all that good at the pastoral care stuff.

  • AnonymousSam

    Piss off, troll.


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