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Which Economy Is Romney Betting On?

The candidate’s concern for American jobs doesn’t keep him from investing millions in China.

Comments (6)
Thursday, October 25, 2012

One way Mitt Romney claims that he will put Americans back to work, he told the Wall Street Journal, is to “crack down on cheaters like China.” China “cheats,” Romney said, because its government subidizes its businesses, steals American technology and keeps the value of its currency low so that the oceans of Chinese exports, from socks to toys to television sets, that flood into American retail stores undersell American products.

But even as Romney claims that his leading concern is putting Americans back to work, the record shows that he is making money from government-subsidized Chinese companies and from Chinese enterprises that move jobs out of the U.S. One of those companies is putting people out of work even now, as the election comes on.

Romney has investments totalling $2.25 million in three Bain Capital funds that own shares in a Chinese company, Asimco, that makes camshafts for automobiles. In 2007, Asimco closed two factories in Michigan that made camshafts and employed 500 people. Now Asimco manufactures the same products in China, on land donated by the China’s communist government.

Romney also has investments in Sensata Technologies, a Chinese manufacturer of sensors—such as air suspension and four-wheel drive pressure sensors—controls and protectors for automotive vehicles, airplanes and electric engines. Bain owns $2.6 billion worth of stock in Sensata; Romney’s tax records show that he made a charitable contribution of $405,000 worth of Sensata stock that he received as “partnership distributions” in 2010 and 2011.

Even as the election draws near, Sensata is in the process of closing its factory in Freeport, Ill. that made sensors for automobiles. In Freeport, 170 workers are being let go as the company moves operations to an area in China that has been given a special designation as an “export base” for automotive parts, a commodity that China is aggressively marketing abroad. Workers at the Freeport plant have begged Romney to try to save their jobs. In August, workers from the plant who tried to deliver a letter asking for help to Romney’s campaign headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin were first locked out, then arrested.

In recent weeks, while voters across the country were reacting to the presidential debates, the Freeport workers and their supporters set up a camp called “Bainport” across the street from the factory to protest the move; some were arrested for trying to block trucks carrying the factory’s equipment away to be shipped to China. Workers say that as Romney talks about being tough on China, the company in which he still holds massive investments—though he no longer heads it—is being tough on them. At press time, Romney had still not talked with the workers.

Romney supporters point out that President Obama, because of his service as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, has some $100,000 in an an Illinois state retirement fund that holds shares in Sensata. But that is dwarfed by Romney’s investment in the company.

Two months before Romney formally announced his candidacy for president in 2011, the blind trust that holds his investments sold its shares in two other Chinese companies. One, Cnooc Ltd., was involved in a multi-billion-dollar deal to develop a gas field in Iran. Romney’s trust first invested in the company in 2009, after news of its business with Iran had broken. The trust sold its shares in Cnook Ltd. in August, 2011.•

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Posted by Joe Smith on 10.23.12 at 15:33

Romney is a moderate conservative, he is a capable business man. As I reflect on this article I think the worlds economy is just that a world economy and we would be smart to learn how the free market works. Most americans have some kind of retirement a 401k or IRA and in many cases we are diversified and have holdings in foreign companies. I read a detailed article on Mitt Romney in 2008 done by the Boston Globe and it detailed how Romney saved Bain and company when the consulting market had a significant downturn. He solved real world and difficult problems. Romney is uniquely qualified to create a government policy that will promote a fair market and save US companies - he has done it in the past and he will do it again. I want a guy in office who has done this, I am not offended at his success, rather I am encouraged by it. I am convinced he can do it. President Obama just does not have real business experience in the US and world market - Obama simply cannot turn this around - he does not know how.

Posted by Joe Smith on 10.23.12 at 16:43

Just about anyone with a 401k has money invested oveseas - when will that scandal be covered by the press!!!????

Call me crazy but I'd prefer someone with real problem solving experience than a community organizer who described his extremely brief time in the private sector as being "behind enemy lines."

But let me get this straight, you are focused on the common event of having investments in foreign companies rather than President Obama's sketchy fund raising practices where his campaign turns a blind eye to foreign donations?

The Obama campaign requires the industry standard CVV code off the back of your credit card if you want to buy a mug.... but DOES NOT require it to accept a donation? They pay a higher fee to omit that standard security measure for donations.

Obama.com is not owned by the campaign. It's owned by Robert Roche, a U.S. citizen living in Shanghai. He's chairman of a Chinese infomercial company. He's a huge bundler for Obama, lives in China, and has sat a many a head table next to Obama. Obama.com redirects directly to the Obama website and 2/3 of its traffic comes from foreign lands.

Never mind any of that... no story there. Mitt Romney is far worse because he's committed the ultimate crime: success.

This is the best part of this blog post though:

"Romney supporters point out that President Obama, because of his service as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, has some $100,000 in an an Illinois state retirement fund that holds shares in Sensata. But that is dwarfed by Romney’s investment in the company."

i.e. - It's not about the principal or logic of an argument. The point is rich people are big ole meanies. Keep the hits coming, Advocate.

Posted by k on 10.24.12 at 5:00

Duh...it's the economy stupid!!

Posted by captandan73 on 10.24.12 at 9:25

Choosing to invest far greater than $2.25 million in funds that intentionally own huge shares of overseas companies, the kind that intentionally close or cause the closing of U.S. factories, and having family investments and deep family- and friend- entanglements in the electronic voting-machine company planned for use this year in Ohio (see recent stories in Business Insider, Free Press, and elsewhere) can't be compared to Obama's meager participation as a state worker in Illinois state retirement funds. Thanks, Stephanie, for continuing sober coverage of Romney's insane dishonesty and greed.

Posted by Kitty Axelson-Berry on 10.24.12 at 12:55

Kaiser Soce - You'll never be at peace if you harbor that kind of resentment for the success of others. For every Mitt, there's 99 other priveledged kids who do NOTHING with their lives. And while he may be 99 steps ahead of you... you are probably 99 steps ahead of an orphan in south central Los Angeles. It's all relative. Anyone who grows up with a strong and loving support system is "steps ahead" of someone who does not. It doesn't mean that anyone you perceive to have had a better opportunity than you didn't earn their success.

Class warfare. Don't fall for it.

Posted by k on 10.25.12 at 4:05
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