Huffpost Money

Awkward! Obama's Pension Invests In Sheldon Adelson, The Super Rich Guy Funding Romney

Posted: Updated:
OBAMA PENSION FUND
Big tobacco is just one of many different industries inside Obama's Illinois pension fund. | AP

Among the many contentious exchanges in Tuesday's presidential debate was a barbed back-and-forth between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama about the size and contents of their pensions plans.

"Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?”

“I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.”

“Let me give you some advice. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States.”

Romney is right, Obama does have a small portion of investments in companies outside the U.S. through a pension fund worth $50,000 to $100,000 that he earned while he was state senator of Illinois.

Obama also has investments in things that are counter to his political positions. A look under the hood of his pension fund reveals investments in controversial for-profit colleges and companies that support anti-abortion causes (see below).

Pension funds, similar to other huge mutual funds, contain a huge mix of diverse investments in domestic and foreign firms. Investors don't actively manage these funds. Rather, they are run by managers, who buy or sell the shares.

With broad funds, like pensions funds or ones that follow the Standard & Poor's 500, you "may have some questionable options and for better and worse that gives diversification," said Brooks Herman, head of research at BrightScope, a financial information company.

The fact that either Romney or Obama have some investments in Chinese companies actually only represents a decent, well-diversified investment strategy.

However, Romney's comparison of his own investments -- primarily a blind trust that is worth up to $250 million -- to Obama's modest pension is somewhat flawed.

For starters, the size of the investments is vastly different. Romney's critics have charged that the Republican's trust is not blind, makes use of offshore investments and contains plenty of stocks in companies that are not Republican-friendly, like pharma companies doing stem-cell research or Chinese oil companies who have been close with Iran. The candidate's timing also smells funny: Romney dropped a number of controversial investments on Aug. 10, 2011, the night before he took part in a Republican primary debate in Iowa.

For Obama, his pension represents a small fraction of his wealth. According to the Obama's most recent tax return, the first couple also has about $325,000 invested in a Vanguard index fund. They also have nearly $5 million in cash investments, according to Kiplinger.

Here are 10 investments inside Barack Obama's pension:

Close
10 Companies Inside Obama's Pension Fund
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Also on HuffPost:

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Obama Pension Fund Equated To Bain Capital Investments During Romney's ...

Romney says Obama also has investments in Chinese companies and through ...

Barack Obama Seizes the Upper Hand Over Mitt Romney at Second Debate

Obama slams Romney on tax rate, wealth, "47 percent"

Presidential Debate: ABC Political Team Checks the Facts

Obama Comes Out Swinging in 2nd Debate; Candy Crowley Fact-Checks Romney

A draw between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a defeat if either was hoping ...

Town hall format leads to close-quarter exchanges

Obama, Romney spar in second US presidential debate

Fact Check: China investments

PolitiFact Wisconsin | Romney says Obama also has investments in ...

Pension Envy: Who Has More—Obama or Romney? - US Election ...

Debate Fact Check: The Presidential Debate - ABC News

Why President Obama Doesn't Watch His Pension

Obama's Epic Debate Performance and Romney's Implosion

Obama slams Romney on tax rate, wealth, "47 percent"