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Don’t Criticize Romney’s Taxes, Carlyle Group’s Rubenstein Says

Carlyle Group Co-Founder David Rubenstein
Private-equity firm Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein said, “You change the law and they’ll pay the taxes.” Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg

David Rubenstein, the co-founder of private-equity firm Carlyle Group, said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shouldn’t be criticized for the taxes he pays lawfully.

Romney said this week that he earned $21.6 million in 2010 and used the preferential rate on investment income and charitable deductions to pay a 13.9 percent tax rate, a smaller share of his earnings than most top wage earners. The disclosure drew criticism from his rivals, who said the former private-equity dealmaker enriched himself at the cost of corporations and their employees.

“You change the law and they’ll pay the taxes,” Rubenstein said today at a panel discussion organized by Time magazine at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “Romney said, and I’m not his defender, he’s paying whatever the law required. If you change the law, change the law, but don’t criticize him for paying the taxes that the law requires him to pay.”

Romney’s wealth, generated from his career at Bain Capital LLC, has figured prominently in the Republican race at a time when the U.S. economy is still struggling to replace the jobs that were lost in a recession fueled by Wall Street’s credit crisis.

Rubenstein, a former staffer of ex-President Jimmy Carter, is himself a wealthy dealmaker. He and his Washington-based private equity firm’s two other founders received a combined $413 million last year. Carlyle isn’t planning to create a compensation committee as it prepares to go public, leaving decisions regarding the founders’ pay in their own hands.

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