The Bain Of This Campaign, Ctd

May 23 2012 @ 2:24pm

John Cassidy wonders how far Obama will take his critique of the private equity industry: 

If the President was really serious about cracking down on this form of "vulture capitalism"—thanks again to Rick Perry for popularizing this phrase—he would surely be emphasizing specific remedies, such as eliminating the grotesque "carried-interest deduction," which allows private-equity partners to pay such a low tax rate, and limiting the tax deductibility of interest payments on the debts that firms like Bain Capital pile upon firms they acquire. At various times over the past four years, Obama has come out in favor of the first proposal, but he has never made it a top legislative priority. By the time the summer is out, he may well have done so, and he may even have embraced the second idea, too.

Wilkinson thinks Obama is playing a dangerous game:

I certainly see the appeal of characterising Mr Romney as a sadistic "vulture capitalist" who takes pleasure in the suffering of those he gladly fires. But Mr Obama may be playing with fire. He has been careful not to impugn all profit-seeking, or even all private equity, yet it's hard to see how it's possible to attack Mr Romney for the alleged depredations of Bain Capital without implicitly attacking other profit-seekers responsible for similar labour-market churn. If Mr Romney's Bain was guilty of something other private-equity firms are not, it's not clear what it is.

Previous discussion here, here and here.