Political Animal


October 29, 2012 1:14 PM Mitt’s Slow Boat to China

By Ed Kilgore

Near the end of a transcript of a Mitt Romney speech to donors revealed by MoJo’s David Corn (who brought the famous Boca Moment to our attention), Romney makes this plenary comment about the United States and China that goes a little deeper than claims of currency manipulation:

When I heard the head of Coca-Cola say that the business environment in America is less hospitable than the business environment in China, I knew we had a problem. I want to make sure that America has the most attractive business conditions in the world—that every entrepreneur once again says, “I want to be an American.” Whether it’s energy or regulation or tax policy or labor policy or legal policy or health care policy—I want America to be the best place for business.

This is interesting because Mitt is looking at a country with a wildly different history, political system, culture and economy and focuses strictly on what he clearly considers to be the cost advantages it offers to businesses. Yeah, China’s a semi-communist authoritarian gerontocracy with a horrendous human rights record, but man, look at those low wages and lack of regulation! I’m sure Mitt also admires China’s “labor policy,” which has no room for free unions, and its “legal policy,” which insulates companies from liability for their behavior.

For all his China-bashing, Mitt would clearly like to make America emulate the PRC in its use of state power to make life easier for the kind of people who donate money to his campaign. The “race to the bottom” mentality that has taken over GOP economic policy thinking could perhaps also be described as a slow and stealthy boat to China.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • martin on October 29, 2012 1:19 PM:

    Wow, if a Dem had said anything close to that Limbaugh would be blathering about the "Chi-Coms" and Fox would have a list of 175 State Dept employees who sold us out to the Communists.

  • blueboy on October 29, 2012 1:29 PM:

    The modern GOP's desire to be more like China does not get enough air time from Democrats and Progressives. Everytime a conservative goes on about shipping jobs to China *this* should be the response: you're trying to make us just like them with: one "legitimate" political party (The GOP/Chinese Communist Party), no workforce safety, no minimum wage, no environmentla protections, no unions (ironic for the "worker's party"), no public or private redress for corporate wrongs, government protection and financing for the big established private sector companies.

    It's not hard to put it in a chart and do a side by side comparison of GOP and Chinese Communist priorities. Why the Dems don't do this repeatedly is beyond me. It even has a name: Corporate Communism.

  • meander on October 29, 2012 1:37 PM:

    Does Romney also admire the mind-blowing corruption of government officials and consequently the business people that need to keep the palms greased? Evan Osnos has some details of the Chinese kleptocracy in a recent New Yorker article about a crash on the high-speed rail lines:

    (begin blockquote*)
    The Minister’s brother had arranged for himself such a healthy piece of ticket sales that he accumulated the equivalent of fifty million dollars in cash, real estate, jewelry, and art. When investigators caught him, he was living among mountains of money so large and unruly that the bills had begun to molder. (Storing cash is one of the most vexing challenges confronting corrupt Chinese officials, because the largest bill in circulation is a hundred-yuan note, worth about fifteen dollars.)


    Today, the scale of temptation for members of China’s government is unlike anything encountered in the West. According to Bloomberg News, the richest seventy members of China’s national legislature gained more wealth in one year—2011—than the combined net worth of the United States President, his Cabinet, all the members of Congress, and the Justices of the Supreme Court. Bloomberg went a step further, and reported, in June, that the extended family of China’s incoming President, Xi Jinping, has tens of millions of dollars in real-estate and financial assets. The government has since blocked the Bloomberg Web site.

    (end blockquote)

    And of course, it must be noted, that it takes two to tango here, with the other dancer being business interests that pay bribes.

    For another great take on "Slow Boat to China," check out Ella Fitzgerald's version on "Twelve Nights in Hollywood" (disc 1).

    * The (begin) and (end) kludges are necessary because of the misformatting of multi-paragraph blockquotes by the blogging software.

  • BigHank53 on October 29, 2012 1:59 PM:

    Something tells me the "job creators" will be less enthusiastic about adopting Chinese product-liability regulations...like executing the guy who sold contaminated infant formula.

  • c u n d gulag on October 29, 2012 2:01 PM:

    Mitt and his Plutocratic pals won't be happy until the remaining 99% of us sell our souls to their company storespo.

  • dweb8231 on October 29, 2012 2:17 PM:

    Mitt does love the Chinese Labor Model:

    (From his infamous 47% talk to donors:)

    In another part of the video, Romney says he was visiting a Chinese factory during his tenure as chief executive of Bain Capital, a private equity firm.

    "When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there," Romney is heard saying. "It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. They were saving for potentially becoming married."

    The GOP nominee goes on to detail the conditions he saw, including workers squeezed into dormitory-style housing, and a fence topped by barbed wire circling the factory.

    Romney says when he asked the factory's bosses about the fence, they told him it was meant to keep people out, rather than in, as people were clamoring to come and work at the plant, which Romney said was manufacturing small appliances.

  • boatboy_srq on October 29, 2012 2:51 PM:

    Voting-as-a-privilege, coupled with admiration for Chinese economic conditions (as a "pro-business" incubator). I can't tell anymore whether the GOTea wants to resurrect the Gilded Age - or Tsarist Russia.

  • jjm on October 29, 2012 2:53 PM:

    The GOP just thinks that if you haven't won by lying and cheating, it isn't really winning.

    Look at how they think Obama's honesty makes him an illegitimate president.