Thursday, January 12, 2012

Barack Obama, "Vulture Capitalist"

What is Mitt Romney going to do to scotch the job-killer label?  His Republican rivals have been ramping up criticism of the doings of Bain Capital, some have labeled him a "vulture capitalist."  If that's how Republican candidates think, then who knows what the Chicago guys on Obama's team will come up with.

Hugh Hewitt has a clever little sound bite on this.  He says that blaming Mitt Romney for job losses is like blaming the lifeboats for arriving too late at the sinking of the Titanic.

My own view is to try a health-care metaphor.  Corporate turnaround outfits like Bain are like surgeons.  They try to cure companies diagnosed with cancer.  Usually, of course, they only come in when the cancer is well advanced, because like people with a pain in their abdomen, the patient is in denial.  That's a pity, because advanced cancer often needs radical surgery.  It's almost always best to get cancer  in its early stages.

That's the business that Mitt Romney was in.  Diagnosing sick companies, coming up with a treatment plan, and then executing on the treatment plan.  Often times, of course, the treatment plan doesn't save the patient, or only provides a temporary improvement.

The Romney team evidently thinks that a direct attack on the president is the answer. Here's Romney in an airplane aisle.
Well, I’d like to look at Barack Obama’s record, and so as we talk about my experience in the private sector, I’ll talk about his experience… he’s now been a venture capitalist in Solyndra, Fisker, the Tesla… and he’s been a private equity guy in General Motors and Chrysler, so I’ll be talking about his record when I’m facing him.
That just shows why I'm not a campaign manager.  It hadn't occurred to me that Solyndra was just waiting there to neutralize the "vulture capitalist" smear.  But the Human Events reporter is livid with Romney's sarcastic answer.
Barack Obama is not a “venture capitalist” with a “record in the private sector.” The compulsory extraction of funding from taxpayers by force, to fund massive expenditures on politically favored companies run by top Obama campaign contributors, is not “venture capitalism.” It’s not really capitalism at all, although the term “crony capitalism” has become popular for describing it.
Quite right, of course.  Actually, there is a bigger problem with Romney's comment.  Most Americans really don't know the different between a "venture capitalist" and a "private equity guy."  But maybe they will after the 2012 election.  And that would be a good thing!

Sure, Romney didn't go on to spell out what is wrong with Obama's jolly little foray into venture capitalism.  But no doubt he will develop the idea in his speeches, in exactly the way that the Human Events guy did.   When the government gets into "venture capitalism" it isn't venture, it isn't capitalism, it's force, pure and simple; it is government rewarding its supporters with our money.  And the same thing applies when the government plays at the private equity game and bails out GM, the unions, and the banks.  President Obama doesn't risk his money or the money of investors looking for a risky play.  He is risking our money.  And we don't want the government taking big risks with out retirement savings.

The point is that if Mitt Romney can't turn the "vulture capitalism" issue around and make it a liability for President Obama then he's not a good enough politician to be president.

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