Get to know Steel Dynamics

Mitt Romney has a new ad out this morning, which, in addition to moving the job-creation goal posts, defends the candidate’s private-sector business practices at Bain Capital. Hoping to bolster Romney’s record, the commercial highlights an Indiana company called Steel Dynamics.

Romney campaign staff may want to reconsider their choice of examples.

What Romney doesn’t mention is that Steel Dynamics also received generous tax breaks and other subsidies provided by the state of Indiana and the residents of DeKalb County, where the company’s first mill was built.

The story of Bain and Steel Dynamics illustrates how Romney, during his business career, made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be “corporate welfare.”

The former governor, on the campaign trail, likes to tell voters that government “gets in the way of creating jobs.” Romney apparently didn’t feel this way when he relied on government handouts as part of his business deals.

The Steel Dynamics example is especially interesting — the community even had to levy a new income tax to help finance Romney’s venture.

Funny, the campaign seems to have overlooked this detail in the new commercial.

Indeed, Steel Dynamics isn’t some isolated story from Romney’s past that he would just as soon see us overlook; this is a story that Romney considers proof of his job-creating expertise. The takeaway, apparently, is that the Republican frontrunner wants government to get out of the way of the private sector, but only after the government gave Romney some handouts that helped boost his profits.

“This is corporate welfare,” said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst with the Washington-based Cato Institute, which encourages free-market economic policies. DeHaven, who is familiar with corporate tax subsidies in Indiana and other states, called the incentives Steel Dynamics received “an example of the government stepping into the marketplace, picking winners and losers, providing profits to business owners and leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill.”

So, Romney is eager to end the same policies he used to boost his own profits, and now he’s bragging about one of the more notable examples in a campaign commercial.

Got it.