CORRECTION: "Romney/Bain Capital Didn't Rely on a $10 million Bailout" -or- "Reality Makes for Boring Infographics"
Astute Mojonaut (and Obama supporter) Jeannie points out that the ThinkProgress infographic we featured the other day is both inaccurate and misleading. She pointed us to a September 5 piece from FactCheck.org, covering claims made at the DNC in Charlotte. It's a long and interesting piece, but the pertinent bit is here:
. . .
Our fact-checking colleagues at the Washington Post and ABC News vetted similar claims made by Democrats.
Based on their reporting, here’s what happened:
Romney had left Bain & Co. in 1984 to form the spin-off private equity firm Bain Capital. But Romney came back in the early 1990s when Bain & Co. was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company’s founders — Romney wasn’t one of them — had taken $200 million of borrowed money out of the firm for themselves, which led to the firm’s financial problems.
The company owed $38 million to a failed bank, which had been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an independent federal agency that insures bank deposits. Romney negotiated with the FDIC a reduction of $10 million in debt, and the FDIC forgave $4 million in interest.
The agreement didn’t amount to a loss for taxpayers. The FDIC is funded by bank insurance premiums and treasury security investments — not congressional appropriations.
In fact, as the Post points out, these kinds of agreements are typical and recover more of the outstanding loan. The FDIC’s own handbook said that restructuring a loan is more productive than spending money on litigation to recover the money.
But that obviously would make a crummy and not-very-inflammatory infographic: "Romney Negotiated a By-the-Books FDIC Settlement that Didn't Hurt Taxpayers!"--what the hell picture goes with that? A bunch of middle class workers shrugging? A dog looking quizzically at a copy of Vogue floating in an otherwise vacant aquarium tank? An AK-47 forgotten in a broom closet?
I've written about infographic rhetoric briefly before, and am increasingly skeptical of *anything* I see presented in infographic format. It's becoming the go-to method for hucksters with photoshop chops looking to manipulate the busy.