As Dan noted today, the Obama reelection campaign is increasingly backing itself into a corner with its attacks on private-equity and venture-capital industries. The Wall Street Journal pointed out yesterday that on the same night the GST Steel ad debuted, Obama was courting big private-equity donors at a $35,800-a-head fundraiser at the Manhattan home of Blackstone Group president Tony James. The Blackstone Group is one of the largest players in the private-equity business that the Obama campaign has vilified in its caricature of Romney as a “vampire” capitalist.
Worse, Blackstone is the very same firm Obama’s team singled out to shame GOP donors who “benefit from betting against America.”
In recent press briefings, White House press secretary Jay Carney has strayed from “official business” and waded into campaign territory in order to attack Romney’s private-sector record. But that seems to be backfiring too. As one of the press corps reporters asked today, what about the risks the Obama administration took with taxpayer-funded venture-capitalist experiments like Solyndra?
Way back in August 2010, before the Solyndra scandal broke, Businessweek ran an article calling President Obama our “venture-capitalist-in-chief” for his $69 billion gamble on a “new American industrial policy” to promote green tech.
That article contained a revealing quote from a Harvard Kennedy School professor: “What determines success in industrial policy is not the ability to pick winners but the capacity to let the losers go.”
The ace venture capitalists in the federal government didn’t know how to let Solyndra and other losers go.
So who will win this debate? Take your pick: Romney’s private-sector venture capitalism or Obama’s public-sector crony capitalism.