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May 25, 2012

Obama's Awkward Private Equity Dance

“It was inevitable that Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital would feature prominently in the presidential race, because both candidates need to exploit it in order to win. Romney, who has opted to de-emphasize his term as Massachusetts governor, needs to convince voters that his tenure at the private equity firm imbued him with special skills to fix the weak economy. Obama, who has presided over that economy, must convince them of just the opposite — that Romney’s business skills don’t apply to the presidency and they’d be better off sticking with him. Obama’s reelection, in other words, hinges on discrediting Romney as a viable alternative. That means going after Bain and private equity.”

“Last week brought the opening salvo, a brutal ad that depicts Romney as having heartlessly bankrupted a Kansas City steel company in his lust for profits. A laid-off worker in the ad calls him a ‘vampire.'”

“The reason why it’s odd is that Obama has given no prior indication of being troubled by the industry’s practices or made any obvious attempt to change them. Private equity didn’t factor in the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking reform law, nor does it pose enough of a threat to worry financial reformers today. ‘It’s a predatory business model which is unappealing and undesirable,’ says Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a nonprofit that promotes the public interest in financial matters. ‘But it doesn’t pose a systemic threat, and there’s no risk of bailouts arising from its activities, so taxpayers are not at risk from it.'”


Read the full Boston Globe article here.

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