There's a fine line between employment status and beneficiary status.
Mitt Romney claims that he ended his tenure at Bain in 1999, but admits that he had taken a three year leave of absence in order to salvage the 2002 Olympics while simultaneously insisting that his tenure at Bain ended in 1999 when his own admission indicates that he remained the general partner until 2002, when his leave of absence expired and he decided not to return to the firm.
However, when he surrendered his ownership interest in Bain Capital in 2002, he remained a "retired" partner, receiving a share of the profits generated by Bain Capital at least through 2007, which means that Romney was benefitting financially from Bain's business during that period, whether or not he played an active role in the decision-making process of the firm.
(There is no such thing as a "retired" partner in an LLC; you are either a partner, or you're not. Romney's status as a "retired" partner was in fact an invention out of whole cloth. The correct term would have been a "passive" partner, one who has a financial stake in the firm but doesn't have management responsibility. This is also questionable because management is determined by the partners, collectively and, as long as one owns an interest in the LLC, even not voting is a vote because strengthens the majority position.)
Consequently, much of Romney's personal fortune is based upon his monetary interest in Bain Capital, which made huge profits from outsourcing American jobs from 2003 onward.
The reason that Romney doesn't want to disclose his tax returns during those years is that those returns would make it clear that he was a passive partner in Bain Capital for years longer than he presently admits.
Romney moved his assets into a series of "blind trusts" in 2003, when he became governor of Massachusetts and, because his assets are held in these blind trusts, he could honestly state that he had no knowledge of whether or how much of his earnings came from disbursements from Bain Capital....nor is it clear whether o r not he actually received any such disbursements after 2003.
One might question whether assets in Bain Capital, or proceeds from those interests, would have been acknowledged by the blind trust and, if so, we might question exactly how blind the blind trust was.
However, it is precisely this lack of transparency that has made Romney vulnerable to charges that he benefitted from Bain's outsourcing activities....if there were no fire to go along with the smoke. The fact that he has refused to disclose lends credence to speculations that where there's smoke, there's gotta be some fire.
In the final analysis, this election is coming down to a question of credibility, with each side questioning the other's.
Romney's people keep pointing to an 8% unemployment rate despite the widespread consensus among economists that an 8% unemployment rate is an amazing success in the current global economic situation as if, somehow, presidents control hiring.
The truth is that there's nothing Obama can do to stimulate the economy as long as the Republicans have the House of Representatives in a stranglehold....and they know it.