Everyone knows Mr. Potter, the mean banker in Jimmy Stewart’s Christmas classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Mr. Potter enjoys foreclosing on hapless Depression-era homeowners and he particularly relishes the opportunity to unethically force good guy Jimmy Stewart out of business and send him to jail — a fate Stewart avoids through the intervention of all the little people he has helped and the timely intersession of an angel named Clarence.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s cringe-worthy comment that he likes having the option of “firing people” seems to make him Mr. Potter’s candidate for president.
And Romney’s opponents in the Republican presidential primary were quick to hit Romney for the comment, but only former Speaker Newt Gingrich really got it right in his criticism of investment banker Romney’s attitude.
Gingrich asked the fundamental question that is at the heart of the economic meltdown of 2008 and the subsequent bailouts and crony capitalism of Obamanomics.
"Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that, in fact, somehow, a little bit of a flawed system."
Of course Romney immediately began to push back and claim any such criticism was anti-free enterprise.
But one of the great divides in the Republican Party these days is the divide between Main Street free enterprise and the bailout-loving crony capitalists of the Washington/Wall Street axis.
Since this spring, Romney has raised over $1.5 million from employees of Wall Street firms like Morgan Stanley; Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund; and Blackstone, a private equity firm.
Employees of Goldman Sachs have given Romney over $350,000. Those figures do not account for all of Romney’s Wall Street donations, or for the influence of Romney’s robust network of Wall Street “bundlers.”
Gingrich’s question exposed the soft underbelly of the entire Romney candidacy, and perhaps Romney’s personality as well, and it is a problem that the name calling from the Romney camp won’t make go away.
As Newt was referencing, Romney’s soft underbelly is that his brand of establishment capitalism is exactly what created the economic meltdown of 2008 and Tea Party and movement conservative voters can smell it on him.
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