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Mitt Romney's version of capitalism

Lots to reflect on this holiday week in the presidential campaign. Support for President Obama's health law is up, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, proving that people identify with a winner. But so is Mitt Romney's fundraising; he raised a record $100 million in June, claiming his final push was accelerated greatly by donors digging deeper in disgust at the Supreme Court validating the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, even some Republicans are speculating that Obama's attacks on Romney's record at Bain are having a negative impact. That's not surprising, and it is an important political development. The Bain story has never been about private equity or the importance and benefit of private capital pools more generally. Few voters understand that world and fewer care. Rather, it is a story about Romney's version of capitalism, which is to make money for shareholders and himself no matter what.

As Obama noted, the president's job is different. Here, you not only have to encourage private investment, but shepherd public investment as well. And, more relevant to the Bain story, you have to deal with the castaways from modern capitalism: those who are left behind when their jobs are outsourced, eliminated or down-sized. All those Bain ads leave a lingering and devastating question: Does Mitt Romney see or care about these people? The Bain attacks remind people what they are angry about. Our economy isn't suffering because we don't have enough people who know how to play the game hard and make a lot of money. We are falling behind because we haven't figured out how to extend that opportunity in a sustainable way to enough Americans. Barack Obama hasn't figured it out, but at least he's trying. Will Mitt Romney meet even that threshold?

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