Mitt Romney’s donors and their shameful dependency on government

Meet Marc Leder, Mitt Romney’s host:

To his critics, he represents everything that’s wrong with this setup. In recent years, a large number of the companies that Sun Capital has acquired have run into serious trouble, eliminated jobs or both. Since 2008, some 25 of its companies — roughly one of every five it owns — have filed for bankruptcy.
Among the losers was Friendly’s, the restaurant chain known for its Jim Dandy sundaes and Fribble shakes. (Sun Capital was accused by a federal agency of pushing Friendly’s into bankruptcy last year to avoid paying pensions to the chain’s employees; Sun disputes that contention.)

Here’s one of the 47% that Mitt Romney demeans and insults when begging for money:

FOR more than 28 years, Helen Smolak worked at the Friendly’s in Denham, Mass. Day in and day out, she served Big Beef Burgers and Fribbles, collected tips and made a decent living.
All that changed one evening last October. That was when Ms. Smolak’s supervisor called to tell her the restaurant was shutting down — immediately.
“It was my family. That was my home,” said Ms. Smolak, 56. “Friendly’s always came first. I was supposed to retire with these people and with this company.”
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that helps safeguard corporate pensions, wasn’t so sure. It accused Sun Capital in bankruptcy court filings of using the bankruptcy to shift Friendly’s pension burden onto the agency.

And here’s how Romney’s host can afford those big donations:

In September and October of 2011, several restaurant chains owned by private equity firm Sun Capital – Friendly’s, the iconic ice cream parlor and family restaurant, SSI Group, which operates Grandy’s and Souper Salad restaurants, and Real Mex, which operates El Torito Restaurant and Chevys Fresh Mex – all entered bankruptcy.
In the case of Friendly’s, Sun Capital sought to use the bankruptcy proceedings to write off debt and to rid itself of the company’s pension obligations to its nearly 6,000 employees and retirees while continuing to own the restaurant chain. Immediately after Friendly’s entered bankruptcy another Sun Capital affiliate announced its intention to acquire Friendly’s. With less than two months between the bankruptcy announcement and the date set for the auction of Friendly’s, no other bidders came forward. On December 29 Judge Kevin Gross approved the sale and Sun Capital closed out 2011 allowed to “buy” Friendly’s in a “credit-bid” sale – that is, Sun Capital got to hold onto ownership of Friendly’s just by wiping out a $75 million loan it had made to Friendly’s and assuming Friendly’s liabilities.
A key part of Sun Capital’s restructuring plan is to shift liability for Friendly’s pension plan to the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Generally, PBGC does not require companies to make good on pension plans they can no longer afford. But in an unusual move, PBGC accused Sun Capital of fraud and announced that it will fight Sun Capital’s attempt to stick US taxpayers with the bill. PBGC objects to what appears to be a transparent effort by Sun Capital to take advantage of the bankruptcy process to abandon pension obligations while continuing to keep its ownership of Friendly’s.

69 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    Ought to call it “Sun King Capital.”

    Good post, Kay. Hope the PBGC prevails.

    Friendly’s bankruptcy, and Helen Smolak’s story, would make a good Obama commercial.

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    That freeloading waitress. Pathetic. She probably even wants food, housing and health care. I’ll bet that she even claims that she ‘needs’ food, housing and health care. Why wasn’t she a private equity entrepreneur? That would solve her ‘problems’, as well as everyone else’s.

  3. 3
    PeakVT says:

    The bankruptcy laws really should be altered to prevent actions like those of Sun Capital (and many others). Good on the PBGC for fighting it.

  4. 4
    Mark S. says:

    How many more videos of this event are there? I’m halfway expecting the next one to have Mitt proclaiming his lifelong admiration for Hitler. Why not make it a perfect week?

  5. 5
    Misterpuff says:

    So The “Whitey” tape finally surfaces?

    That being the “Rich Old Whitey Man with No Clue” tape.

  6. 6
    Kay says:

    @Mark S.:

    I don’t understand why political media are acting as character witnesses.

    Nothing that Mitt Romney has ever said publicly would indicate that he is a good or kind man. Nothing. Do they know some other, decent version of Romney?

  7. 7
    dmbeaster says:

    Sun Capital – another job creator. Those pesky PBGC regulations mucking it up.

    As for pensions and bankruptcy, companies have been exploiting it to shed pensions for 30 years now, with the steel companies leading the charge a few decades ago. The whole notion of a pension has been destroyed by the vulture capitalists, since any company carrying that burden on its books is a target for takeover and liquidation of the pension to free up “value” and create a profit by destroying the pension.

    The middle class that has been told to be loyal and earn your pension are just played like suckers.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    Shorter The Corner:

    This is election gold!

  9. 9
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Its important that working people lose everything in a bankruptcy, even their house because otherwise moral hazard or something.

  10. 10
    MattF says:

    @Mark S.: This, I find astonishing. One could argue, e.g., that Mitt was tailoring his message to the Wall Street Journal set– stupidly and amateurishly, but that’s our Mitt. But how could anyone with a functioning brain conclude that it’s good news for Romney?

  11. 11
    Paul says:


    I don’t understand why political media are acting as character witnesses. Nothing that Mitt Romney has ever said publicly would indicate that he is a good or kind man. Nothing.

    Amen to that. Have they already forgotten the poor gay kid that was bullied by Romney in school? Not only bullied, he pinned him down and cut his hair.

    But whatever, Romney is a good and kind man. After all, the MSM said so…

  12. 12
    ericblair says:


    Nothing that Mitt Romney has ever said publicly would indicate that he is a good or kind man. Nothing.

    He has a lot of money. Therefore he is good. QED.

    And a hearty round of applause for the Rombot for all his yeoman’s efforts in making people think the 1% are as useless a bunch of arrogant locusts as us mooching crypto-Marxists think they are.

  13. 13
    dmsilev says:

    The Intertubes tell me that Bay Buchanan is out there this morning mimicking the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Tis but a flesh wound”.

  14. 14
    Punchy says:

    I wish excessive greed caused cancer…

  15. 15
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I’m surprised that the Republicans haven’t tried to pass a law allowing companies to shoot an employee dead on the day that he or she retires. If a person isn’t adding value then why should they be allowed to go on living?

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Mark S. says:


    I’m just a messenger. But try reading this without laughing. You see, Mitt’s just like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address.

  18. 18
    Kay says:


    Where’s the class war rhetoric they all parrot? Jesus Christ. Romney has utter contempt for half the country. He hates half the country. That’s fine because he loves his grandchildren? Can this decency bar get any lower?

  19. 19
    Dennis SGMM says:


    He has a lot of money. Therefore he is good. QED.

    And, because he made that money by driving companies into the ground he’ll make a wonderful president.

  20. 20
    ericblair says:


    Can this decency bar get any lower?

    I have a feeling we’re going to find out.

    As a suggestion, please follow each “Rompocalypse” or “Romageddon” reference with a datestamp to sort them out. I think we might have to move to timestamps closer to the election, though.

  21. 21
    dmsilev says:

    @Mark S.: It’s worse than that. That idiot thinks that Mitt’s video oopsie is actually the modern-day *battle of Gettysburg*. Oh, and this:

    This chance encounter should be the thing that forces Romney out of his crouch, away from his krack kadre of kampaign konsultants, and fleeing from his over-reliance on conventional wisdom and polls.

    Can someone please disable this moron’s ‘k’ key?

  22. 22
    dmsilev says:


    Can this decency bar get any lower?

    The Nig-CLANG horizon awaits.

  23. 23
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Mark S.:
    The shorter National Review;

    “C’mon, Mitt,wave your Asshole flag high!”

  24. 24
    Punchy says:

    @dmsilev: Republicans couldnt finish any emails without their “K” key. Considering how many times they type it thrice….

  25. 25
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I saw what you did there.

  26. 26
    Nancy Irving says:

    Didn’t Mitt the Shitt do exactly the same thing with several of the companies Bain pushed into insolvency?

    GOPers are only for “bankruptcy reform” when it’s the little people who are forced to pay.

  27. 27
    gnomedad says:

    Bobophobes may wish to avert their eyes, but I think this a pretty significant meme to come from David Brooks – Thurston Howell Romney:

    There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    @Nancy Irving:

    His main complaint about the auto bailout was that workers and retirees weren’t hit hard enough, to protect investors. They all took a hit, but Romney believed we should have destroyed the current workers and retirees. They were on their knees so he thought it was a good time to knock them out.

  29. 29

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    Its important that working people lose everything in a bankruptcy, even their house because otherwise moral hazard or something.

    Yes, moral hazard really is for people who work FOR the “job creators”. But, hey, after all THOSE PEOPLE self-deport, millions and millions of jobs will open up for the 47% who mooch off of those poor dears in the Galtian Overlords Party.

  30. 30
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Using the Republican party to reform the welfare state is like using a chainsaw to reform a cat.

  31. 31
    jibeaux says:

    Last night I told my husband that I wouldn’t have said this about John McCain, but that I truly thought Mitt Romney was a bad person. He said he agreed but that I definitely had said John McCain was a bad person in ’08. Maybe I did, but hey, he’s old and he was tortured. What’s Romney’s excuse for being distilled asshole?

  32. 32
    Newly-minted MBA says:

    Romney has lost David brooks

  33. 33
    cathyx says:

    Can we expect Mitt to Bainify the country if he becomes president?

  34. 34
    Newly-minted MBA says:

    Gnome dad got there first and with an embedded link!

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mark S.:

    The subtlety of Mr. Walsh’s writing:

    Milk-Carton Mitt’s surprise turn upon the stage — did you know he was running for president? — came courtesy of the currently unemployed James Earl Carter IV, son of James Earl Carter III and grandson of the ineffable James Earl Carter, Jr., and a big fan of Barack Hussein Obama II, who found and relayed a surreptitiously recorded video in which Romney sounded remarkably like . . . a real conservative.

    And then he works in Robert Heinlein and the house of Saxe-Coburg, and Robert E. Lee…

    I left a comment “Are you on drugs”, but I don’t think the moderator will approve it.

    PS: Interesting this fool blames Jimmy Carter’s grandson for “relaying” the video. Any truth to that?

  36. 36
    Waldo says:

    At this point, I think even Yogi Berra would say this race is over.

  37. 37
    beltane says:

    @Kay: They say he’s a good man because he tithes to his church. Big deal. If he wants to remain a member of his church with all the perks that entails, he must pay his membership fee. No kudos from me on that front. And I will say that Ann Romney, for a society matron with a lot of time on her hands, is strangely uninterested in any form of philanthropy.

    I suppose there are a handful of people out there with fewer redeeming qualities than Mitt & Ann Romney but they’re not too easy to find. Maybe that Jesus fellow was on to something when he claimed it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  38. 38
    Kay says:


    Refuses to release his tax returns and then launches an attack on half the country based on taxes? Yes. That’s Mitt Romney.

    That’s a special kind of arrogant. He’d do anything, basically.

  39. 39
    debbie says:

    I didn’t hear about this video until this morning, but it’s about time there was outrage over Romney’s views.

    Where was all the anger when Mitt announced he’d checked 10 years of his tax returns and was happy to inform us that he’d paid about 13% every year, adding this little gem: “If you count my charitable donations, my rate is about 20%.”?

    The mindset that associates charity with taxes is as cold-hearted as they come.

  40. 40
    mai naem says:

    Why is it that payroll taxes don’t count but yet when they talk about the budget they talk about entitlements, entitlements, entitlements. SS and Medicare payroll taxes go directly to those entitlements. Either count the payroll taxes or take out the entitlements when you are talking about the budget,ofcourse along with the payroll taxes. BYW, other people may have forgotten, but I haven’t forgotten when we were told by Alan Greenspan that payroll taxes need to go up during Reagan’s term because of the demographic storm that was coming. When the demographic storm started to come the same Greenspan said it was okay to pass the Bush cuts(magically ofcourse aimed at the very wealthy.)

  41. 41
    beltane says:

    @cathyx: Of course, why else do you think he’s running for POTUS. This mofo is so pathologically greedy I wouldn’t put it past him to dig up the cemetery at Arlington looking for gold teeth and other valuables. And if You People don’t like it he knows people who would be happy to sell your kidneys and liver on the black market.

    Money is the only thing that’s sacred to this Ferengi mutant.

  42. 42
    Interrobang says:

    It’s the same damn MO, over and over again: Privatise the benefits, socialise the costs. As a friend of mine likes to say, liberals invent things. Right-wingers invent new methods of committing corporate crime.

  43. 43
    Ash Can says:

    @Newly-minted MBA:

    I’m holding off on judgment until I’m sure he’s not trying for satire here.

  44. 44
    El Cid says:

    None of this parasitism would happen if the fedrul gubmit wouldn’t step in to guarantee these pensions.

    Let these 65 year old lifetime employees realize they’re penniless and in imminent fear of starvation, and their lazy asses will get out there finally and innovate and do some of that entrepreneurin’ instead of lazily taking all this pay and benefits their job creators have just handed them.

  45. 45
    gnomedad says:

    @Ash Can:
    Mind you, I’m not assuming Bobo won’t find some reason to support Romney anyway.

  46. 46
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @Kay: “Do they know some other, decent version of Romney?”

    Well, sure, the Willard that is nice to kids and dogs.

    Unless the kid in question has hair that is too long, and acts kinda “swishy”. And unless the dog needs to be taken on a long road trip…

    Okay, never mind. Willard is 100% asshole to the core of his being.

  47. 47
  48. 48

    @cathyx: That’s easy – yes. I must go have a lie down now, as I not only read a Bobo column, I agrees with a great deal of it. Though there was really no need to slander that Thurston Howell gent in that fashion.

  49. 49
    Kay says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki:

    It’s such a ridiculous thing to hold up as proof of “character”, Professed Love of Family.

    What did they think he was going to say? That he thinks his grandchlidren are a huge pain in the ass? Serial killers would pass this test they’ve set up.

  50. 50
    kd bart says:

    Poor Mitt. Forced to ride in the back of the limo all those years. If only he could’ve ridden in the front.

  51. 51
    Paul says:


    They say he’s a good man because he tithes to his church. Big deal. If he wants to remain a member of his church with all the perks that entails, he must pay his membership fee

    Furthermore, the tithing that the church receives doesn’t all go to charity. They operate a private university, a number of private businesses, ranches etc.

    You are right. It is just a membership fee. I don’t think he should get much credit for that.

  52. 52
    Elizabelle says:

    I look forward to the post-Mitt video round of polling.

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @Kay: Yes, This is class warfare of exactly the kind that Warren Buffet describes.

    Mitt is cheering it on.

  54. 54
    jibeaux says:

    I think DougJ has been trolling Bobo’s comments again:

    Yes, I also wish we could reincarnate Gerald Ford

  55. 55
    dmsilev says:

    @El Cid: Needs more Reagan.

  56. 56
    me says:

    @dmsilev: …and it’s totally backwards too.

    . Similarly, Meade — fresh to his command of the Army of the Potomac — was taken by surprise, but organized a skillful defense in the face of the Confederate onslaught and emerged victorious.

    Meade knew exactly where Lee was and forced him into a very bad position. For that metaphor to be anywhere near correct, Romney would be LEE not Meade.

  57. 57
    Kay says:


    I went to a political event at a community college yesterday. Bipartisan, good government, register to vote and look at all the candidates, that typa thing.

    Five rural counties, should be solid Romney Country. I know some of the Republicans who came on behalf of their respective county Parties. They seemed defensive and angry, to me. They don’t even like him. It’s just this grim march to the election.

    I generally think that “love wins” in elections. The candidate who has more positive support will win, ultimately, over a wholly negative “referendum” type approach or candidate, and they don’t love Romney. They did love Bush.

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    These people are thieves.

    Hang them.

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki:

    Well, sure, the Willard that is nice to kids and dogs

    You know who else was kind to children and dogs, don’t you?

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mark S.:

    No, Walsh’s “Gettysburg moment” is that Romney has run into a battle he didn’t seek, like both Lee and Meade at Gettysburg, but now must go all in and make the most of it. No mention of Lincoln in the piece.

    Can’t believe I’m explicating Walsh’s dreck. He hits all the usual tropes, including “skin in the game,” a mention of Jimmy Carter, “Get lost, British twits!” and referencing some no-name Kos commenter as somehow representative of the liberal establishment. He does call David Brooks a “house con,” though.

    I looked Walsh up on Wikipedia and learned that he cofounded with Andrew Brietbart, so he’s possibly even a bigger tool than the other Corner nitwits.

  61. 61
    @VividBlueDotty says:


    Interesting this fool blames Jimmy Carter’s grandson for “relaying” the video. Any truth to that?

    That part seems to be true.The story was at NYMag.

    As for the rest, it is so unintelligible that I gave up after the first graph. Your comment, whether or not it survives moderation, hit the nail on the head. I’m guessin’ shrooms.

  62. 62
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    This may have been commented on in one of the posts below, but one of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics was the most shamefully dependent on the federal government Olympics ever. Mitt is either a genius at irony or it’s totally lost on him.

  63. 63
    Jay C says:


    Friendly’s bankruptcy, and Helen Smolak’s story, would make a good Obama commercial.

    Or, at least, bring the subject up in the debates. Make it clear to the audience (i.e., the whole country) that not only does one of the GOP candidate’s big backers believe that private/corporate pensions – which workers may have to rely on to boost their income in retirement – are just another inconvenient liability to be ducked out of by legalistic shenanigans; but that the candidate himself does, and has built his “business” career accordingly.

    Maybe for once, a nontrivial segment of that infamous “white working-class” electorate will finally see past the cheap appeals to “social” issues (i.e. racism, prejudice, nationalistic jingo and self-righteous religiosity) that the GOP has leaned on for their support for the last 30+ years, and come to realize that today’s Republican Party really doesn’t give a crap about them, and that the Rule Of Money is the inly thing that counts.

    But I won’t hold my breath…

  64. 64
    Bulworth says:

    Great job, Capitalism. Throw a person out of work and onto the unemployment/disability rolls. Drives up costs of government and tax burden by shifting pensions to PBGC and former worker’s income support from employer to government. Less government! Those moochers and government dependents.

  65. 65
    JCT says:


    Furthermore, the tithing that the church receives doesn’t all go to charity. They operate a private university, a number of private businesses, ranches etc

    Funds clandestine campaigns against marriage equality… stuff like that.

  66. 66
    Karen says:

    The man had the audacity to use tax-payer dollars pay to feed and house his horse — but has trouble with tax dollars feeding and housing children?

    Release your taxes, Mitt. Then we’ll see who the takers really are!

  67. 67
    burnspbesq says:

    About god-damn time the PBGC fought back.

  68. 68
    JoyfulA says:

    And the Sun private capital owner is a such a genius that he had his personal money invested with Bernie Madoff.

  69. 69
    GFoyle33 says:

    @MattF: Or she could have just borrowed money from her parents! What part of ‘looking out for yourself’ does she not understand?

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