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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 09:58 AM

"I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly"

Posted with permission.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2012_01/what_weve_learned_from_romneys034953.php

What we’ve learned from Romney’s returns

By Steve Benen


Mitt Romney’s campaign, as promised, released the former governor’s 2010 tax returns, as well as an estimate for his 2011 returns, and we’re starting to get a sense of why the Republican candidate wasn’t eager to share these details.

Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments.

None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments.


By any fair estimate, over $42 million in income over two years isn’t bad for a guy who jokes about being “unemployed.” Indeed, Romney would be in the top 1% based solely on the income he makes in one week.

Romney said last week that his rate was “closer to 15%,” but as it turns out, despite his vast wealth, he actually only paid a 13.9% rate last year — lower than his political rivals who aren’t nearly as wealthy, and lower than most middle-class American workers.

And what about those overseas investments?

His 2010 return also showed that he had a financial account in Switzerland that was closed in 2010 and that he generated income from overseas investments. He also reported financial accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.


A Reuters report added that Romney’s Swiss bank account was closed in 2010 “after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney.”

I suspect those with far more expertise in this area will subject these materials to considerable scrutiny, but at first blush, the disclosure appears to raise at least as many questions as it answers.

Why did Romney set up $100 million trust funds for his sons without paying any gift taxes? Were his accounts in the Caymans and in Switzerland created to avoid paying taxes? Was the closing of the Swiss account related to this IRS investigation? And given all of the questions surrounding Romney’s Bain-era work, why does the Republican candidate continue to insist he won’t disclose returns from previous years?

What’s more, following up on a point from last week, even if Romney argues that he’s simply playing by the rules — taking advantage of existing tax loopholes to pay lower rates than much of the middle class — this doesn’t explain why Romney is eager to exacerbate issues on tax fairness with his tax plan that makes the problem worse.

In a debate over tax fairness and income inequality, Romney is practically a case study for What’s Gone Wrong, but he can at least plausibly argue that this is a mess he benefits from, but didn’t create. Romney, however, prefers to believe the problem doesn’t exist.

Greg Sargent did a nice job capturing the larger political context:

I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly. In a remarkable bit of good timing, President Obama is set to deliver a State of the Union speech focused on income inequality and tax unfairness on exactly the same day that Mitt Romney will reveal that he made over $40 million in the last two years — all of it taxed at a lower rate than that paid by middle class taxpayers.

Romney doesn’t just disagree with Obama on these fundamental issues; he personally symbolizes virtually the entire 2012 Democratic message. He is the walking embodiment of everything Dems allege is wrong with our system and the ways it’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and against the middle class. Yet this is the standard bearer the GOP seems set to pick.


Romney and his aides believe these materials should end the discussion. That’s backwards — the larger debate is just beginning.

18 replies, 3581 views

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply "I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly" (Original post)
babylonsister Jan 2012 OP
russspeakeasy Jan 2012 #1
glowing Jan 2012 #2
Thrill Jan 2012 #3
Beavker Jan 2012 #8
Jackpine Radical Jan 2012 #4
Johnny2X2X Jan 2012 #5
kemah Jan 2012 #6
klook Jan 2012 #11
BadgerKid Jan 2012 #7
oldhippydude Jan 2012 #12
what0now0toons Jan 2012 #9
ChadwickHenryWard Jan 2012 #10
Amonester Jan 2012 #17
FarLeftFist Jan 2012 #13
gopiscrap Jan 2012 #14
JJ Jan 2012 #15
Snarkoleptic Jan 2012 #16
Ravens Light Jan 2012 #18

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:06 AM

1. Wow. Staggering numbers. Thanks for the post.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:07 AM

2. Even funnier is that ole' Newt is hitting him first and hard with this tax development...

Its hilarious to see him tearing Romney up.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:30 AM

3. One has to ask what were those investments

Last edited Tue Jan 24, 2012, 05:10 PM - Edit history (1)

Did he profit off of the pain of others. Dig deeper

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Response to Thrill (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:14 PM

8. Yes

Romney ripped Newt for being a Fannie lobbyist (not historian), and he worked for them as a 'consultant' while Floridians were losing their homes at a large clip.

However, while Romeny was ripping Newt, he had a large number investments in Fannie products that were the main culprit or vehicle for the collapse.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:44 AM

4. Willard does NOT embody everything that is wrong with the system, so stop saying that!

In fact, he embodies only half of what is wrong. Gingrich, with his corrupt deals, racism & general viciousness embodies the other half.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:51 AM

5. Wow!

Honestly, I was expecting a sanitized version to be released, this is incredible. There is simply no working person in America that can fathom this type of income and paying so little in taxes to boot. Who knows, maybe this is the sanitized version.

I think this opens up a can of worms for the Mitt and I expect the Republicans to start demanding more tax returns from the past, it's obvious they began closing embarrassing accounts in recent years because of his campaigning. No doubt his returns from 5-10 years ago would be more embarrassing than these.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:10 AM

6. Now we know why he resisted to release. Not pretty

Poster boy for the !% and proud of it.
He will resist to release more tax returns because they won't be as clean as these current ones.

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Response to kemah (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 02:08 PM

11. LOL, !% - perfect symbol

to represent the .001 percent.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:35 PM

7. Moreover, given his and presumably others' relatively lower tax rates,

can we not ask, "Where are the jobs?"

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Response to BadgerKid (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 03:14 PM

12. this too ought to make a lot of people

take a look at OWS.. textbook example, and with the coverage of presidential campaign the MSM cant ignore it!! Gingrich may ultimatly end up being an inintended againt of change for us..

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 02:03 PM

9. "Cayman Island Mitt!" ( the new ) "What Now Cartoon"

Romney keeps showing us what he actually is, an insensitive selfish greedy monster that has, and will continue to destroy jobs in his insatiable quest for easy profits ( it's harder to build a company that will survive, than to wreck one and sell off the assets)! He would create an economy that only the 1% can survive in, while they kick people out of their homes with Romney's blessing, he did say he wanted the foreclosure process to be stepped up didn't he? Now we can ad that he hides much of his ill gotten booty in the Cayman Islands, away from the prying eyes of the IRS.
My latest cartoon about this modern day pirate is up now at my web site
www.whatnowtoons.com
Left of Center Independent Political Cartoons

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 02:06 PM

10. Something very important should be noted about that $0.00 in wages figure.

This means that did not earn a single penny of his vast income. He did literally zero work over that period of two years, and still received a truly enormous amount of money. This raises the very important question of why "unearned" income (capital gains, dividends, interest) should be taxed at a lower rate than "earned" income (wages.) The argument is that taxing capital gains at a higher rate, or even the same rate, as earned income, will discourage investment. The problem is that under this argument, we are now disincentivizing actual work. While investment is important, surely work is more important to the daily function of the economy. Governor Romney is the perfect illustration of this perverse system, as he chose to do no actual work over the last two years, and was still lavishly compensated for his idleness.

At base, this clearly shows that the loud objections in defense of the super wealthy that "they worked hard for that money!" are just lies. Warren Buffett noted in an interview last week, on the subject of Romney, that of the 400 wealthiest Americans, roughly 90 of them have never held a job in their lives. The Waltons perennially populate that list, and they of course did not work for their money - they inherited it from their father.

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Response to ChadwickHenryWard (Reply #10)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:35 PM

17. All that money comes from the work of someone(s)...

When you think of it.

And the peons also have to pay higher tax rates.

Go figure.




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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 03:21 PM

13. $20 MILLION FOR WHAT HARD WORK?!!!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:12 PM

14. willard's nothing but a

self centered, secret underwear wearing pig!!!!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:51 PM

15. Doing a little more math

Romney made more each day than a majority (roughly 57%) of American households made in a year.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 07:05 PM

16. Prior year taxes are to Romney as birth certificates are to Obama. (logic exercise)

I plan on riding this issue like a pony!
Think of the fun...
What's he hiding?

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 01:37 AM

18. So Romney is part of the 1%...

 

No wonder every news story about the race I saw before newt won South Carolina was declaring Romney the winner first thing.

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