Biden On Hedge Fund Dispute: Irrelevant

Joe Biden, for one, thinks that arguments about the influence of hedge fund money within the Democratic primary are beside the point.

"I think it's almost irrelevant," Biden told me, shortly after bringing down the house at the American Association for Justice forum in Chicago this weekend. "What it's important for the Democrats to be strong on is public financing. All the rest doesn't matter. Plug one loophole on the hedge funds and you got 6,000 spigots on the Republican party running, full wide open."

The hedge fund issue has proven to be a thorny one for the leading Democratic candidates, all of whom have benefited from generous contributions from that rarefied group of private investors. There has been much talk recently about a tax loophole that allows hedge funds that go public to pay a much lower level of taxes than other corporations.

Edwards, Obama and Clinton ended up, in that chronological order, advocating that the loophole be closed and that hedge funds no longer be taxed at a 15 percent rate on their gains instead of at the 35 percent which most people pay.

Incidentally, while Biden may think public financing would solve the problem altogether, he too told me that he thinks that that loophole should be closed.