GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Republican candidate for governor in Michigan is “proud” of his record of outsourcing as an executive with Gateway Computers. His ultra-rich running mate opposes health reform, ending tax loopholes that protect outsourcing corporations, and wants to privatize Social Security.

Rick Snyder, the dubiously successful venture capitalist and a former Director and CEO of Gateway Computers who wants to be “hired” as Michigan’s next governor, claims to have created jobs. The record, however, tells a different story. According to numerous media reports, Snyder sat on the company’s board of directors when it outsourced thousands – as many as 19,000 – jobs to other countries.

Apart from his job-cutting skills at Gateway, Snyder has dabbled in venture capitalism. He recently told supporters that profits from speculation and “picking winners and losers” is “hard work.” His campaign is even centered on his supposedly successful role in venture capital investments as important experience for a governor.

But even the Wall Street Journal isn’t buying into Snyder’s claims that these investments created jobs in Michigan or were even very successful. In a recent blog post WSJ reporter Scott Austin noted that Snyder’s role as a venture capitalist didn’t actually create jobs.

According to Austin, a venture capitalist group like Snyder’s only raises cash for start-up companies it believes will be profitable and plays no role in hiring decisions or the ultimate success of the company. Only 10 of three dozen start-ups that got money from one of Snyder’s companies were in Michigan.

Simply put, Snyder makes most of his living speculating on the hard work of other people, most of whom live in other states or other countries.

Even then, Snyder’s efforts have proven to be less than remarkable, Austin added. Most of the companies that got Snyder money have gone out of business, and others seem to be so unstable they have moved from company to company. For Snyder, picking losers seems to have been the easiest work of all.

“We may never know exactly how well his investments have panned out, unless he’s compelled to release that information during his campaign,” Austin wrote. Even Snyder’s Republican friends were skeptical of his business acumen. Democrats have called for full disclosure of Snyder’s financial records, but so far he has refused to allow much public light on them.

Why, many wonder, does a supposedly successful venture capitalist want to become governor of Michigan? Whatever the reason, Michigan working families can believe it isn’t in their interest.

With ties to the Republican Party shadow group “Americans for Tax Reform,” Snyder’s running mate, Rob Steele, has an even shadier history. According to ATR’s website, Steele supports tax laws that provide benefits and tax breaks to companies that move jobs out of the country. No wonder Snyder likes him so much.

According to media accounts, Steele even stood with those Republican Party leaders who objected to U.S. government efforts to hold BP financially accountable for its Gulf Coast oil spill.

Steele doesn’t stop there, however. He opposed the new health reform law that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and that closed the so-called Medicare donut hole. Steel wants insurance companies to be able to deny as much care as possible in order to make more profits. He wants retirees and other Medicare beneficiaries to have to pay higher out-of-pocket expenses to get their prescription drugs.

And if that weren’t enough, Snyder is a devout proponent of Social Security privatization. Some may say that issue isn’t important because, after all, no lieutenant governor has authority over Social Security. But can Michigan voters risk elevating a Republican Party politician who is so clearly opposed to the interests of working families and seniors?

Snyder and Steel like to present themselves as something new. But when you scratch the surface even a little, you find the same policies that cost Michigan tens of thousands of jobs over the past two decades-the same economic ideologies that caused the financial crisis in 2008 and offer no solutions for today’s recession.



Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu teaches courses on diversity, intercultural competence, migration, and civil rights at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. He is the author of The Collectivity of Life: Spaces of Social Mobility and the Individualism Myth, and a former editor of Political Affairs.