The Delaware Democratic Party has just announced its speaker for their big Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday, June 9. In a remarkable example of bad timing, that turns out to be Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, who suddenly finds himself the favorite Democrat of the Republican Party.
A week ago on the NBC program “Meet the Press”, while anointing himself a “surrogate” for the Obama campaign, Mayor Booker pronounced himself “nauseated” by the tone of that campaign’s criticism of Mitt Romney’s role as a venture capitalist managing private equity for Bain Capital. He called on the Obama campaign to, “Stop attacking private equity.” He compared the Obama campaign criticism of Romney to the abandoned proposal of a Republican Super PAC to tie President Obama to the fiery rhetoric of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
The Republican National Committee predictably responded with an on-line campaign titled “I stand with Cory” highlighting Mayor Booker’s criticism of the Obama campaign. Mayor Booker feigned surprise at the Republican tactic, and he released a YouTube video trying to walk back his criticism.
What was Cory Booker thinking? Like a lot of politicians, he was probably thinking about his own political future, his dependence on financial support of wealthy contributors who manage private equity, and thinking he might score a few points for himself by coming to their defense. He has ended up making himself look weak, vacillating, unthinking, disloyal, and opportunistic.
He’s also wrong in his criticism. Mitt Romney has made his lucrative work at Bain Capital the centerpiece of his campaign, asserting that it qualifies him to be President of the United States. The Obama campaign is pushing back by noting that maximizing profits for rich private equity investors is not always good for American jobs and workers. Sometimes profit maximization requires the closing and relocating of U.S. operations. The President’s job is to make decisions in the best interests of all Americans, not just the wealthy.
Whatever benefits are claimed to flow from the management of private equity should be balanced against the costs. And among those costs is the skewed and unfair tax system that favors the wealthy by taxing their “capital gains” at a maximum rate of only 15% while ordinary income from wages and labor is taxed at up to 35%. Most of the income Mitt Romney earned and continues to receive from Bain Capital is in the form of tax-favored “capital gain.”
If the Delaware Democratic Party is trying to associate itself with unrestrained free market capitalism by inviting its defender, Mayor Booker, perhaps they will next invite former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who recommended to President Clinton the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933. The 1999 repeal signed by President Clinton opened the door to unlimited risk-taking by government-insured banks too big to fail, contributing to the banking collapse and bail-out of 2008.
As Mitt Romney observed of the recent multi-billion dollar losses incurred at JP Morgan Chase, “This was a loss to shareholders and owners of JPMorgan and that’s the way America works.”
Collateral damage to the economy, the government and American workers is also the way America seems to work.