During this week's vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan reprised a line Republicans have used repeatedly in making the case for a Romney presidency.
"Mitt Romney -- his experience, his ideas, his solutions -- is uniquely qualified to get this job done," Ryan said in his closing statement. "At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America, wouldn't it be nice to have a job-creator in the White House?"
The central argument at the heart of Romney's candidacy is that he knows how to create jobs and President Obama doesn't. To buttress that claim, Romney points to his career in the private sector, as a Wall Street buyout specialist and venture capitalist at the firm Bain Capital. Bain Capital, of course, specialized mostly in leveraged buyouts -- debt-financed investments in companies that often resulted in bankruptcy, off-shoring and layoffs.
Since those aspects of Romney's business career are less politically palatable, he focuses instead on the few start-ups he helped provide seed funding for -- brands we all recognize, like Sports Authority and Staples.
The problem, however, with spotlighting those businesses is that their success hinges fundamentally on a premise that is perhaps just as unpalatable as the worst excesses of private equity. Those large retail chains exploit the efficiencies of scale to offer the same goods and services that much smaller businesses do, but at much lower costs.