Actually, the answer is all of the above.
He’s a preening self-styled deficit hawk, but the nation’s four largest deficits have occurred since he became Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
As Chairman of the Budget Committee, with a bloated staff and a budget of millions of dollars, his only responsibility – under law – is to produce a budget resolution every year, yet it’s now been more than 800 days since he’s bothered to fulfill this obligation.
You may be asking why I’m going after Senator Conrad. Is it because I’m upset that he has played a key role in tricking some gullible Republicans into supporting tax increases, based on a laughably vague set of talking points?
Sure, that galls me, but I’m used to Republicans engaging in self-immolation. I can’t really get too upset with Conrad for taking advantage of GOP naiveté.
What irks me is that this buffoon went to the Senate floor last week to make an impassioned plea for higher taxes. But rather than honestly say that he wants to take more of our money, he demagogued about a building in the Cayman Islands.
According to our financial-wizard friend from North Dakota, there is something inherently criminal about this structure (offices of a top-flight international law firm) because it is the home of more than 18,000 companies.
Here’s an image I captured from one of Conrad’s earlier speeches, where he made the same accusation.
So why am I irritated about his speech? Is it because Senator Conrad lied about the number of companies at Ugland House? No, the Senator is correct (unlike Obama, who demagogued about the same building during the 2008 campaign, but said there were 12,000 companies).
What bothers me is that Conrad presumably is educated enough to understand that he is being disingenuous. While he’s been sucking on the public teat his entire life, surely he knows that a company’s home is merely the place where it is chartered for legal purposes. A firm’s legal domicile has nothing to do with where it does business or where it is headquartered.
But just to make things clear, here’s a picture of another building. This building is smaller than Ugland House, yet it is the home of more than 200,000 companies.
So why isn’t the empty suit from North Dakota attacking this building? Maybe we should ask the Vice President. After all, this building is in Wilmington, Delaware.
The moral of the story is that companies like to make their legal homes in jurisdictions that have honest courts, sensibly light levels of red tape, and business-friendly reputations. The Cayman Islands is such a place, as is Delaware.
To Kent Conrad, that’s de facto evidence of criminal activity. To normal and honest people, that’s evidence that good policy generates more economic activity.