Early on in the debate, Cayman Islands bank accounts became a hot topic because Mitt Romney had a few that the left quickly confused with Swiss bank accounts (or offshore ones), and determined were unreported tax shelters Romney used to hide his money or, alteratively, fund the construction of a machine that could either destroy the moon or control the weather depending on which James Bond film they’d seen last.
Sadly, Mitt Romney is (1) not that interesting and (2) honest enough to report his “tax shelters” to the IRS in order to get taxed on them appropriately, which means he really needs a new accountant. At any rate, the campaign even mentioned at one point that the accounts functioned as a way for Romney to entice overseas investors to hide their money in American companies, so who knows, maybe the whole thing was a patriotic exercise in bringing super villainy back to the good old US of A where it belongs.
In Tuesdays debate, the subject came up again, not because Obama was attacking Romney’s sin of being wealthy (or putting money into a blind trust that happened to have invested in Chinese companies), but because it appears, Obama might have some overseas investment structures of his own.
Romney: “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?”
Obama: “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long. I don’t check it that often.”
Romney: “Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Caymans trust.”
Turns out, Obama has investments made through the Illinois State Board of Investment, which cares for the pension funds of Illinois state employees. Obama was an Illinois State Senator and is entitled to (and did) make investments through this board, in a manner almost identical to Mitt Romney’s own blind trust. In fact, the ISBI even put some of it’s cash into Avent International, a private equity and buyout firm like Bain Capital that puts a percentage of it’s investors money into a Cayamn Islands partnership (sound familiar?). And as part of it’s diversified portfolio, the blind trust also has investments in Chinese companies, presumably some of which have human rights problems. Because pretty much all Chinese companies have human rights problems.
Now, like Romney, Obama has about as much control over which funds Avent selects as he does over what Avent employees have for lunch, meaning he’s pretty distant from his Cayman Islands situation and these Chinese companies that everyone’s freaking out about (and they could both probably get into a pissing match over whose pension fund is actually bigger), but let’s put it this way: maybe Obama should check his retirement portfolio a bit more often.
UPDATE: He really should check his portfolio. As it turns out, Obama has a much larger pension than Romney.