When President Obama opined during his 2011 State of the Union speech that a corporate tax-rate cut might be just the thing for America after a year of record corporate profits, his left-wing base was shocked and dismayed. Heck, some conservatives were caught offguard, too. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed who was running the Obama administration: In large part, the same guys who plan to be running the next Republican administration.
Barack Obama (Nasdaq: bho) has been a pretty good buy for Goldman Sachs et al. Sure, the Frank-Dodd financial-reform bill is going to be a sharp pain in Wall Street’s pinstriped posterior, and it’s going to cost some moneymen some money, but not enough that anybody’s going to be out a champagne saber. Mostly, Big Business has got just what it wanted from the Big Government guys in the Obama administration: Frank-Dodd did not do much of anything to lift the cloud of opacity over the world of structured finance, which is what the investment bankers feared most. President Obama has made some noises about ending the carried-interest treatment that allows the fine fellows who run private-equity funds to pay 15 percent in taxes on their gazillion-dollar take-homes instead of 35 percent, but the private-equity guys know that isn’t going to happen, mostly because they’ve heard this story before, from Senator Schumer, and they recognize it for what it is: an inelegant appeal for campaign donations. Beyond Wall Street proper, your Fortune 500 types are looking at the many-splendored tax credits and subsidies and grants and stimulus dollars lavished upon firms such as the now-defunct Solyndra and the really-should-have-been-defunct General Electric and wondering: How do I get me some of that?