Under the Bus

Under the Bus

Under the Bus
By Kate Ackley

When it comes to proposed new taxes, companies and groups often cry that familiar refrain: Take it out of the other guy, not me. So it is that the National Venture Capital Association, under pressure from lawmakers who want to increase the taxes paid on “carried interest,” have found a way to appease Members and dodge the increase themselves.

The group brought in several of its members from all over the country this week to suggest that Congress increase the taxes paid on carried interest for other sectors, like private equity firms and hedge funds. But not, of course, on venture capital because it is, well … so very different.

“Changing the tax treatment for carried interest discourages the very type of investment Congress has been trying to encourage for so long,” Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, said in a press statement.

Carried interest refers to the cut that these firms and other partnerships collect after profitable deals. Such money currently is taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate, but proposals in Congress seek to increase that to a rate of about 35 percent.

“As the NVCA Board has communicated to Congress,” the press release notes, “there are distinct characteristics of venture capital that no other industry can claim: Venture capital creates industries and builds communities. …

“NVCA will continue to encourage Congress to look at each industry swept up in the proposed legislation and make a determination on tax status based on the balance between achieving the goal of tax fairness and promoting economic growth.”

One hedge fund lobbyist was none too pleased with the venture capital group’s plan. “I think any group that tries to throw another group under the bus is putting themselves in greater danger,” this lobbyist said. “At the end of the day, hedge funds, venture capital, private equity — all these are going to rise or fall together. Their best way to stop any of this is to stick together.”

A Venous Disease. A long-standing health problem is looking to attract some publicity — and raise public awareness. Representatives of the Venous Disease Coalition declared at a press conference at the National Press Club on Tuesday that they plan to make venous thromboembolism a “major U.S. public health priority.” Venous thromboembolism, or VTE, includes five different ailments ranging from varicose veins to the often deadly pulmonary embolism. (Former Rep. Jennifer Dunn [R-Wash.] recently died as a result of a pulmonary embolism.)

According to a coalition press release, the various forms of VTE affect more than a quarter of all Americans, and pulmonary embolisms result in five times as many deaths as breast cancer, car accidents and AIDS combined.

Dr. Suresh Vedantham, an interventional radiologist at Washington University in St. Louis and the vice chairman of the coalition, said a major public awareness campaign would help people do a lot more to protect themselves and their loved ones from these ailments. On the policy front, he said, “what we really want is engagement to make sure there are more funds for education and public awareness.”

Vedantham said effective treatments for VTE — often including the use of blood-thinning drugs — exist but often are not used, adding that part of the problem was the lack of public knowledge about the ailment despite its status as the third-most-common vascular disease.

The surgeon general last year convened a workshop on venous disease that concluded with a commitment to issue a public call to action. That call has been “held up a bit” by the surgeon general’s subsequent resignation, Vedantham said.

Shoring Up the Company. Lobbyist Andrew Shore, president of Black Swan, has teamed up with a duo of former colleagues from his one- time employer, law firm Mayer Brown.

Jim Jochum and Marguerite Trossevin are joining with Shore to launch Jochum Shore & Trossevin, a law firm specializing in trade litigation and regulatory matters, while Black Swan will handle trade, tax and health lobbying.

Before joining Mayer Brown, Shore was chief of staff for the House Republican Conference.

Source: Roll Call, September 19, 2007

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