In a presidential election season reputations are offered lightly. Take a Bloomberg News contribution by a money manager and Obama supporter named Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, who says at Bain Capital “Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses.”
Mmm, that sounds bad, like Fannie Mae. But his argument comes down to the prosaic fact that, under the tax code, interest payments on corporate debt are not taxed as profit. You can argue about the wisdom of the tax code, but to leave a cost of business untaxed is not “socialism.” And when debts aren’t paid, the pain of bankruptcy is primarily borne by private parties—shareholders, creditors, workers.
How do such, ahem, questionable things come to be written? Call it getting on-board.
Reflecting the political profession’s contempt for the public it’s trying to influence, Team Obama has been shouting through the cognoscenti media that now is the time to “define Romney before he can define himself.” Hence its $100 million swing-state advertising barrage. Hence a campaign manager calling Mr. Romney a “felon.” Hence Mr. Obama taking to the stump to associate Mr. Romney, in crude Pavlovian fashion, with the word “outsourcing.” Paul Krugman is certainly on-board, declaiming that the election is about the rich (see, Romney is rich) versus everybody else.Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod ponders how next to “define” Mitt Romney.
We’ll argue here that the Democratic effort to “define Romney” is a lot more about formula than about who Romney actually is. But let’s first ask a question easy to overlook until it’s asked, and then it shouts: What is the definition of Obama?