Thursday, July 12, 2007

Private Equity Firm Taxes

The Bush administration warned lawmakers not to raise the tax rate of private equity and hedge funds or their managers, maintaining that it would injure the economy and discourage risk-taking. Appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, July 11, Eric Solomon, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy cautioned against changes. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has long been critical of growing wage disparities and of Bush administration tax policies that he says favor the wealthy over the middle class. Still he has reservations about change because tax policies “provide incentives for risk-taking and entrepreneurship, because new ideas and new businesses create good jobs.”
Let's leave the slogans behind and consider the facts. Most of the risk taking we see is in financial manipulation, not in creating new products and business. These firms such as Blackstone, the Carlyle Group, and Bain Capital seldom contribute to management, except to lay off workers, reduce benefits, and sell assets. They increase the debt of acquired firms to pay themselves rather than to build new plants. The typical practice of “quick flips,” relisting the companies within a year or two of taking them private, with more leverage, but few if any operational improvements is a “contribution to the economy that we can do without and need not reward.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Iraq Civil War

Bush claims that we cannot exit Iraq or it will erupt in civil war. And what does he call the daily bombings occuring now?

Oil Refinery Capacity

"Biofuels Push Causes Oil Industry To Cut Refinery Plans" read the headline in the Lansing State Journal last week and probably other papers. Wouldn't you think that some reporter would ask the refiners' spokesperson why we should believe the industry ever planned to build new refineries when they have not built any for 30 years, and are using their huge profits to buy back their own stock rather than invest in new plants? This is where our newspapers are failing the public. As long as papers just print press releases without investigation and background, the public is not well served.