All these Bain ads are really about spending

Here’s the real message of the Bain ads. The ads may invoke classic private-equity slurs like looter and stripper, but the real message is that private equity is exactly what it says it is: a bringer of efficiency and rationalization. Mr. Romney, the ads say, wants to take things away from you that he claims no longer are affordable; Mr. Obama, the ads say, will fight whoever tries to take things away. To the less sophisticated voter, the Obama message is a soothing “nothing has to change.” To the more sophisticated, President Obama proposes himself as the defender of every spending interest, never favoring a cut, always pushing for higher taxes. …

Politicians who work this vein are careful not to be heard actually saying “everything is affordable.” But voters get the message “the rich will pay.” If the proceeds of the Buffett tax were proportional to the noise Mr. Obama has made promoting it, the Buffett tax alone would solve our fiscal problems (in fact, it’s impact would be negligible).

Mr. Romney should be happy to fight on these grounds. A lot of voters—known as taxpayers—worry about the economic future. Mr. Obama’s stance of “let’s preserve and expand the handouts and to hell with tomorrow” frightens them. Quite possibly some decipher the Obama ads exactly as Team Obama intends, but like the ring of Mr. Romney’s private-equity history. It has nothing to do with putting profits above people—and everything to do with stopping the rot.