Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney Believes in America, Provides 150-Page PDF to Prove It


There are two principal sets of goals for management consultants. The first is to convince clients that you, the consultant, have performed an exhaustive analysis of their situation, boiled down the results into easy-to-grasp bullet points, and designed an actionable path forward. The second is to ensure that those recommendations are as broad as possible in order to avoid being blamed for negative results while steering absolutely clear of telling clients anything they really don't want to hear.

Shared ambition.

So it will come as no surprise to anyone reading "Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth" that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential hopeful, spent much of his career running an offshoot of Bain & Company, a highly successful global management consulting firm.

Bain pitches its value to businesses on the front page of its website under the headline "Shared Ambition, True Results" with a sort of consultant-jargon Zen koan: "We find value across boundaries, develop insights they act on, and energize their teams to sustain success." Despite being more than 150 pages long, Romney's economic plan offers roughly the same level of confident, content-free froth.

Like so many consultant's reports, Romney's document is dull with meeting-room melodrama. "President Obama assumed office at a moment of crisis," it starts. And of course, there were two choices: on the one hand, "to put faith in American workers and businesses," on the other, "to put faith in government." Which one did Obama choose? The suspense is killing me.

You can guess where it goes from there. At the end of the first section, Romney's assessment of Obama's term so far is revealed.  "Taken cumulatively, the programs in Barack Obama's agenda in his first three years in office have set back the American economy and contributed significantly to the high levels of unemployment we are now enduring." Romney, like so many consultants, wants his audience to think he is establishing a narrative. Instead, he is merely rehearsing the one they already believed.

Oh sure, Romney's "plan" offers two full pages of discussion about why the United States needs to transition to a "territorial" tax system, and scatters tasteful graphs across its bullet-pointed pages. If you make it through the entire document, you'll even run across a handful of real, if mostly underdeveloped, policy proposals: establishing a hard cap for regulatory costs, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, eliminating the estate tax, repeal ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation bill, In the course of 150 pages, it's hard for even a master consultant like Romney to avoid proposing anything at all.

But even the proposals Romney does offer tend to be carefully couched in the language of possibility. "A robust investment tax credit, extending the write-off for capital expenditures for an additional year, and a lower payroll tax could each have a positive effect if properly structured." Could! Perhaps! Isn't that interesting

On Medicare reform, the plan nods toward the premium support plan put forth by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, "makes important strides in the right direction by keeping the system solvent and introducing market-based dynamics." Does Romney support Ryan's plan, or its basic framework? Not…exactly. "As president, Romney's own plan"—wasn't this supposed to be Romney's plan?—"will differ, but it will share those objectives." The same. But different.

Indeed, Romney's report appears designed to give the impression of prescriptive policy detail while providing as little of it possible—focusing more on describing what America's situation is—or at least what Romney thinks Republican voters think America's situation is—than on what it should be, and how he proposes to fix its problems.

He believes in America.

So it's sufficiently thorough in its background analysis, yet aspirationally vague when it comes to proposing action items.

Meanwhile, it fully avoids telling Republicans anything they don't want to hear. The word Medicare, for example, appears just three times: Once in the context of his non-support for Rep. Ryan's overhaul, once to note that ObamaCare "slashed $500 billion from Medicare," and one more time to declare that "we must keep the promises made to our current retirees: their Social Security and Medicare benefits should not be affected."

Like Medicare? Hate Medicare? Want to see it reformed, propped up, or cut back? Irked by ObamaCare's cuts to the program? Romney's plan recognizes all possible Republican viewpoints, and commits to none of them. 

It's as if Romney and his team took notice of the polls showing Obama losing to a generic Republican—and then made it his mission to become exactly that candidate. If not for the spectre of RomneyCare, Romney might have succeeded in personifying the distilled essence of vaguely Reaganesque vanilla Republicanism.

Of course, as part of the act, Romney is required to insist otherwise. The report's third section, "Mitt Romney's Plan," begins by declaring that "Mitt Romney is a leader of a very different kind." Not just different. Very different. The important thing, though, is that he has to tell you. Because otherwise you wouldn't know.

NEXT: One Reason Why Keynesian Stimuli Aren't Working: They Aren't Keynesian

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m feeling pretty confident that Romney won’t be winning the nomination. Even if he provides Power Point slides and freebies at his next presentation.

    1. Generally you have to have a better reason to be President than “hey I ran last time”.

      1. . . .and didn’t even make it the whole primary season.

  2. …made his fortune running an offshoot of Bain & Company, a highly successful global management consulting firm.

    Did he make the big money from them before or after his stint in government? Because often these ex-politicos get hired by these places because they have contacts and can make government work for them (and against competition).

    1. That feedback loop is yet another scam perpetrated by politicians.

    2. Is it wrong that I read the name as Batin’ in Company?

      1. I put Mitt and Bain together and all I can think of is:

        Critic: How do you sleep at night?

        Wolfcastle: On top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.

        Critic: Just asking.

        1. Homer: Hey, are any of these hetero? Wolfcastle: What’s there is there.

        2. “On closer inspection, these are loafers.”

  3. “There are two principal sets of goals for management consultants.”
    1st – invent secret words to infer organization & create exclusiveness.
    2d – help mgmt to ID folks to fire.
    3d – declare the org world-class lean n mean & publish new org charts.
    4th – collect the money babiee !$
    5th – network other execs to hoodwink

    1. Your continued slaughter of the American language is truly stunning.

      1. thx ! one can hope to aspire & inspire

  4. I never know how deep to read into the pop culture picture references. For some reason the first picture gives me the same vibe of the ’69 Velvet Underground cover. But Mitt says, I’ve come to hate my government…

  5. Is it exhausting to be Peter Suderman? Everything and everybody sucks, so knock out a few hundred (or thousand!) words every day explaining why every politician is wrong and doomed to failure. If you never support any specific people or policies, you never run the risk of being proven wrong. (Supporting vague principles like Freedom doesn’t count.)

    1. But what if everything and everybody does suck? And what if all politicians are doomed to failure?

    2. I’ll take this opportunity to pimp Jon Rauch again. Read Government’s End. Politicians are doomed to failure when they set out to make big changes.

      And all politicians are wrong, and everybody does suck. But so what? Same as it ever was.

    3. u mad, Romney fan bro?

        1. Of course it’s racist! The use of black dialect (for example, “bro”) is always racist. That’s why everyone should be forced by law to talk like white people — tolerance demands it.

    4. I think he makes Megan do all the work and just signs his name.

  6. You can guess where it goes from there.

    He fixes the cable?

    1. Don’t be fatuous, Michael.

      1. Is a Logjammin’ reference ever inappropriate?

        1. It’s true, regrettably, production standards have fallen. Now that we’re competing with those amateurs, we can’t afford to invest in little extras like story, heart, feeling.

          You know, people forget that the brain is the biggest erogenous zone.

          1. True. There is almost no acting in beaver pictures anymore.

          2. On you, maybe.

  7. Eliot Spitzer takes another dump on the carpet of logic:
    The Spitzer Road To Economic Recovery


    5. Create a jobs program that will employ millions of the unemployed. One creative idea would be requiring that those receiving federal contract hire additional workers.

    You know all those guys milling around at a construction site doing nothing? We need more of those.

    1. He didn’t mean “workers” per se. He meant whores.

      1. Think of all the jobs that will be created to make the shovels and brooms those new workers will be leaning on!


        1. Don’t forget the hard hats and orange vests. Since both of those are made largely of plastic I can see this having some effect on the price of crude oil as well.

    2. Don’t you know SF, the key to prosperity is inefficiency. If we could just get less efficient and do less with more, all of our problems would be solved.

    3. I’m pretty good at textual theory and decoding, but I trully cannot make heads or tails of the reply:

      Douglas Cook
      Really folks President Obama is playing the cards he has been dealt. He is not weak, uninformed, detached, doctinaire, possessing of poor judgement or any of the insinuations that are attempting to tear down by a thousands of little cuts. Constantly implying that there is some badly thought unspoken agenda the current administration has other than the welfare of the country doesn’t do the progressive cause any good.

      Richard Morris
      good post. I am a progressive, and strongly believe government is BY THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE. Our form of government calls forth active participation. Voices like yours are necessary to advance our SELF-GOVERNMENT.

      It is ironic that so many folks believe in the invisible hand of the FREE MARKET, while at the same time they might believe that THE PRESIDENT can somehow make everything right. Is there an invisible hand at work in our government? Our money says: IN GOD WE TRUST.

      1. I think they mean he is trying his best. The irony of Obama supporters accusing Obama critics of expecting too much of a President is rather priceless.

        1. It’s gone from “just gib him a liddle more tiiiiiiime, gize!” three years ago, to “he’s doing his best” today.

          Are they talking about a President or a retarded kid in little league?

          1. LOL. My favorite is the claim that the economy isn’t recovering because the corporations hate Obama and want him to fail and are therefore refusing to hire. Look around Kos or Atrios or some place where real nut liberals hang out. It is a shockingly commonly held belief.

          2. Is there a “Thudguard for Politics?” model in the production pipeline? We know our sitting president has a penchant for helmets, based on his extreme bike riding pics.

            This guy makes me yearn for a more Putin-like president. If you’re gonna go all out on the statism and central control, at least you can look like a badass motherfucker doing it.

      2. “When our guy is in change and isn’t delivering what he said, it’s time to put our faith in God!”

        These people are so pathetic that it’s laughable.

      3. If you rearrange the capital letters it says ” BUY MORE OVALTINE.”

    4. …takes another dump on the carpet of logic…

      I’m stealing this.

    5. I munch the Carpet of Logic with the Tongue of Reason.

  8. Yeah, we need the kind of MBA thinking that would stick a dog on the roof of a station wagon to optimize space usage for a family road trip.

    1. Daddy built me a special windshield for my cage. If I’d known we were going, I wouldn’t have stolen the kids’ pancakes that morning.

    2. MBA Groupthink is what I was thinking of as I began to read Suderman’s synopsis. Romney is just leaning on what he knows, but it’s pathetic and just lame.

      Huntsman may be dead in the water but his ideas make more sense to me.

      1. Huntsman may be dead in the water but his ideas make more sense to me.


        1. The mormon the DCites like (for now).

    3. If Romney had the sense God gave a goat he would have ended his political career the day that story broke. You are never living that down.

    4. I see a “Thudguard for Dogs” market opening up.

      1. “For a ruff world!”

        1. “For a roof world!”

        2. *golf clap*

  9. To be fair, the Appendix: 59 Policy Proposals That Will Get America Back To Work contains specifics.

    It also contains gems such as these:
    27. Establish fixed timetables for all resource development approvals
    28. Create one-stop shop to streamline permitting process for approval of common activities
    29. Implement fast-track procedures for companies with established safety records to conduct
    pre-approved activities in pre-approved areas

    1. Why 59, and not 58 or 60?

      1. You need to put on your government-think hat, Jerry.

        It can’t be 60, because that’s obviously a contrived number, and 58 is just too close to 60 to be believable.

    2. Re: No. 28, that’s already done in Texas and other states. It’s called a “permit by rule.” Basically, you prove that the thing isn’t a big deal, sendin a form to the TCEQ, and you’re done.

    3. 30. Grow robust mindshares and disintermediate visionary channels

      31. Orchestrate best-of-breed platforms in order to monetize out-of-the-box users

      (thanks to the bullshit generator)

  10. I’m trying to think of any experience I’ve had with a management consultant that actually proved to be somewhat useful…and I’m coming up empty.

    1. “We find value across boundaries, develop insights they act on, and energize their teams to sustain success.”

      Keep repeating this over and over until you come up full.

      1. Lone Watie: We thought about it for a long time, “Endeavor to persevere.” And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.

    2. My wife used to be a staff accountant at a successful medical practice here in the LA region. In fact, they had experienced a lot of growth by buying up smaller practices throughout the region. This caused a cash flow problem, as well as logistic and management complications. The owner decided to bring in a consultant to help with the problems, and to steer the practice in the future. Five years later… there is no more practice. They weren’t bought by another practice. The consultant was simply incompetent and killed the once successful practice. Lesson learned.

  11. There are two principal sets of goals for management consultants. The first is to convince clients that you, the consultant, have performed an exhaustive analysis of their situation, boiled down the results into easy-to-grasp bullet points, and designed an actionable path forward. The second is to ensure that those recommendations are as broad as possible in order to avoid being blamed for negative results while steering absolutely clear of telling clients anything they really don’t want to hear.

    You forgot some very important ones:

    Always bill 50% up front. Dont answer the phone until the checks clear. Keep receipts for all your expenses. Steal your clients rolodex and drop their name as a reference with everyone before the deal is even done.

    Seriously, who here’s ever done any management consulting? Its not as bad as you’d think. I mean… lawyers are worse! 🙂

    Management Consulting only exists because of the progressive development of institutional paralysis within organizations. Some companies ossify, have 5 job titles to do the same (@#*$ thing, a thing which never gets done because they assume its the other guy’s responsibility.

    Sometimes an outsider can add value simply pointing out the obvious. Sometimes you get lucky and actually suggest something clever and useful.

    Sometimes. A lot of the time, what you’re actually doing is taking the client’s agenda, and helping either sell it upwards to more senior management/the board, or downwards to internal teams. You slap your brand on it, and they don’t individually take the blame if it all turns out to be a horrible idea in the first place.

    Funny story of a management consultancy hiring an outside “Brand Consultancy”:

    They decided our brand needed ‘refreshening’ in the emerging era. They changed the color schemes, the logo, and even designed a custom font to use in all of our documents.

    When the first batch of materials went out, clients started calling saying, “Whats the deal with the blank doc you just sent..” or “Why can’t I read this file? Its all garbled..”

    Turns out the brand consultants never mentioned the only people able to read our customized font would be us… because no one else had it installed…or could even get it off the internet…

    details, details…

  12. “As president, Romney’s own plan will differ” – so not only is this crap economics, it’s crap grammar too. Romney’s plan is going to be president?

    1. Probably do at least as well as Obama or Romney.

  13. OT, but I don’t really give a fuck.

    Didn’t any of you see the story yesterday talking about completion of the first spaceport in the USA. Pretty cool story, until you read the bitching by the dumbass Team Red governor. It’s like she’s never heard of competition before.

    Oh, and you’ll all be happy to know that the head of the NM Spaceport Commission is already working on the problem. Seriously, they already have a regulatory agency in charge of what will ostensibly be Richard Branson’s private launch site.

    1. Trouble is, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the competition they were talking about was a race to see who could shovel subsidies the fastest.

      Sounds like Ms martinez is worried about the statemaybe spending money it doesn’t have. It’s refreshing to here a gov talk that way.

      On the other hand maybe she just wants to shovel the subsidies into some other trough.

  14. Several employers have brought in consultants over the years. Afterwards, it was clear the old joke was correct: A consultant is someone who asks to see your watch and then tells you what time it is.

  15. Haiku consulting
    All you really to know
    In three lines, no more

    1. I thought a haiku was supposed to be 5,7,5 not 5,6,5.

      1. So did I, Sparky.
        TWYlite fucked that joke up bad.
        Not that mine don’t suck.

      2. 5, 7, 5, huh?

        Sounds like a segway in a Rush song.

      3. Second line should read:
        “All you really need to know”
        Seppuku for me

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.