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Friday, August 29, 2008

Tough Neighbor For Wall Street

Biden Raps Hedge Funds, Millionaire Tax Breaks; Foreign Investors Get Pass

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has picked Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate. Mr. Biden's foreign-policy experience made him Mr. Obama's choice, according to news reports. But what of Mr. Biden's views on deal making and Wall Street? Here is a quick look.

Not a fan of hedge funds: In a Democratic debate on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" last year, Mr. Biden blamed hedge funds and private-equity funds for the credit crunch: "We need more transparency, particularly with regard to hedge funds and private-equity funds. They are the ones that are causing this thing to go under. And there's no transparency, no accountability. We don't know how deep this problem is."

A stable capital-gains tax: Mr. Biden voted against cutting the 15% capital-gains tax rate in 2005 and 2006. He has said he believes raising taxes on dividends will raise $195 billion a year.

Caution over, but not rejection of, sovereign-wealth funds: Mr. Biden led Senate hearings in June on sovereign-wealth funds and urged caution when accepting investments from the investment arms of foreign countries, but credited such funds with helping bolster several U.S. banks. Mr. Biden said greater transparency would make sovereign-wealth funds appear no less a threat to U.S. national-security interests but that "punitive defensive regulation could be self-defeating, depriving us of potential benefits out of the fear of potential harm."

No tax breaks for anyone earning more than $1 million: Sorry, Wall Street. Those deal makers who are still employed will surely pay higher taxes if an Obama-Biden administration has its way. Mr. Biden has said he supports the elimination of tax cuts for anyone earning more than $1 million a year, which he says would raise $85 billion a year for the government.

By: Heidi Moore
Wall Street Journal; August 26, 2008