In the closing ten weeks of the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his Republican backers have hammered home their favourite line that under his presidency the United States will be in the best hands to recover from "four years of economic downturn". In the three presidential debates with Barack Obama, Romney declared: "I know how to make this economy grow" and "I know how to grow jobs."
And they have very detailed evidence to base these claims upon, from both the huge profit margins his Bain Capital firm makes to the very nature of its financial success: reversing the fortunes of floundering firms. But this undoubtable business shrewdness does not fit into the premise of the challenge he would face as chief executive of the most powerful country and richest economy in the world. The very nature of Romney's business success means he cannot use the two fundamental sources of his business niche; risk- averse and selectivity, as a claim to be able to run the most powerful country in the world.
Business, just like politics, is extremely varied, and the fact that Romney was a good businessman does not tell us much about the nature of that success. Because the nature of his success, especially during his latter years as head of Bain Capital, was being able to be highly selective in choosing which failing firms he would choose to try and resurrect. And even when he chose a firm that failed to recover, his company still made profits from its management consultancy services and its exploitation of tax loopholes.
If Romney were to win the election on 6 November, he would not enjoy any flexibility over choosing which ventures he would select to invest in, because the United States of America resembles one very big firm. And although it is a venture which certainly falls into his line of business experience of needing resurrecting, it by no means offers Romney the low risk, cautionary approach which he has modelled his business success upon.
Nevertheless, there are many attributes of Romney's business history which will aid the challenge of being the chief executive of the United States of America. But he needs to offer more than simply a specimen of his entrepreneurial success. Profit is not the be-all and end-all of federal government, despite many Republicans wishing it was so, and he will need to offer more to firms, government departments, aid agencies and the 7.9% of unemployed Americans than simply giving up on them because government, unlike Bain Capital, cannot make profit out of failure.
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