Friday, June 01, 2012

Obama wants to fight on Romney's turf

If Obama wants to run a campaign comparing Bain Capital and the administration's record on investment, bring it on. David Horwich writes,
The problems for The One’s are threefold. First, he has made near-universally bad bets. Second, public entity investing possesses fundamental flaws. And third, the opportunity to make investments with politically connected business ventures has led to charges of corruption and cronyism.
A campaign fought on this issue is fighting on Romney's turf.
Moreover, the folly associated with public entities investing in established businesses (like, say, General Motors…oops!), let alone technologies best evaluated by trained professionals, is manifest for all to see. A private equity (or even venture) investor is a highly experienced individual who has seen, invested in (and/or rejected investment in) many companies in his or her career. His existence is Darwinistic: if he doesn’t know what he’s doing and makes too many bad bets, he doesn’t get to raise the next round of fund capital and is out seeking a new career by the day after that failure.

On the other hand, a public functionary deciding to risk hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars can’t have been through the fire of investment success-or-failure, and, most importantly, doesn’t have the same interests at heart.

By definition, his or her goals are policy-driven, not return-driven, so he feels indifferent to success: he’ll keep his job regardless of failure – unless political pressure forces him out.

Which of these two would you rather see as stewards of your money? After all, it is your money.
With the government, you get bad decisions often driven by corruption and cronyism. The losses are the taxpayers. And the unseen consequences are the private investments that don't get made because of the higher taxes needed to pay for all that crony capitalism.

Fighting on Romney's turf might be a sign of an aggressive Obama campaign, but it's a fight that Romney can win. And it's heartening to see that he is willing and able to make that argument.