| The Penguin explains how political campaigns are won. (:41)
The Right constantly whines how “our taxes are too high” and how our corporate rate is “among the highest in the world”. But who actually PAYS that top 36% tax rate? Not Paul Ryan and certainly not Mitt Romney. Romney… reportedly worth only a quarter Billion dollars (*cough* bulls#@t *cough*)… tells us the “13.9% tax rate” he reported on his 2010 return (actually, he misremembers it as “13.6%”) was a high water mark for him, but that in the ten years he checked, he “never paid less than 13%”. THIRTEEN freaking percent! Am I supposed to be impressed by that? I’m not quite sure what point Governor Romney is trying to convey when he says he “never paid less than 13 percent” and the MOST he’s paid in the last ten years was a paltry 13.9%. Congressman Ryan… despite a substantially lower total net worth of “about $4.5 Million”… actually paid a higher percentage in taxes than Romney, paying just 15.9% in 2010, and 20 percent in 2011. Tell me again how taxes are “too high”? Seriously, is he bragging? How am I supposed to respond to Romney telling me he “never paid less than THIRTEEN percent”? Am I supposed to be grateful he paid “so much”? Should I hear that and think, “Gee, that seems high!” Seriously, someone tell me how am I supposed to react to the news that two multimillionaires paid a combined 14.9% tax rate in 2010, because I haven’t the foggiest.
Now, I’ve spoken at length of how I believe Romney is worth FAR more than the “$264-Million” that’s been reported. This is a man that made $60-Million dollars on a single investment deal when Bain Capital purchased an Italian phone directory software company, only to turn around and dump it at the peak of the tech bubble two years later at 25x the price, hanging thousands of Italian investors out to dry. There’s the multiple overseas tax havens where he has squirreled away millions more in tax free savings, and (as mentioned last week) a tax-free SEP-IRA that could be worth another $101-Million dollars (an amount plenty of economists want to know how it was achieved.)
Now consider the possibility that the amount he paid in taxes in 2010 wasn’t on a person worth $268-Million but $1-$5 Billion. Suddenly, that 13.9% peak rate he paid on his best return (the only one he’s willing to show us) wasn’t even THAT horrible a hardship. And if Harry Reid is right (as I believe him to be), he didn’t even pay THAT much. Tell us again how “tax rates are too high on this nations’ job creators”? (Speaking of which, while Romney & Ryan are paying the “job creator” tax rate, remind us all again just how many JOBS they’ve created in exchange for those low rates?)
In 2001, I worked at (“at”, not “for”) Enron (I got the job the Friday before 9/11. First time in my life working in a skyscraper and suddenly, people were dive-bombing planes into them. But that’s another story.) I was working for IBM, auditing Enron for all the laptops that “grew feet” and walked out the door as they started laying people off left & right (Enron was trying to weasel out of paying for them by claiming they never got them. Again: another story.) Enron was doing everything in their power to avoid paying their debts.
Then it came out in the news that Enron had been paying mega-accounting firm Arthur Andersen “$350-Million dollars a year”… or nearly $1-Million dollars a day… to avoid paying ANY income taxes each year. This was one of the biggest, most powerful, multinational conglomerates on the face of the Earth (at its peak, worth upwards $70-Billion dollars), and yet they were able to manipulate the tax code so that it owed NO taxes. Their estimated tax bill would HAD to of been MUCH higher than the $350 Million they were paying their accountants each year to justify the expense.
As you may have noticed, the mega-accounting firm Arthur Andersen is no longer with us (at least, not as an accounting firm). When the government threatened an investigation into how they aided Enron in defrauding investors, they started shredding files like crazy. Not just documents, but entire metal filing cabinets were dumped into enormous industrial-sized shredders brought in just for the job. As you might of guessed, not all of AA’s accounting practices were entirely legal (yet they won their court case on a technicality) and the damage done to their reputation pretty much put them out of business.
So what’s my point? If Mitt Romney “never paid less than 13.0%” in taxes, there’s a VERY good chance the way he did it wasn’t entirely legal… especially if (as I suspect) he’s worth 5-12 times as much as he claims. Plenty of people are now wondering if the reason Romney refuses to release his 2009 Returns is because he took advantage of President Obama’s 2009 “tax amnesty” program for people that failed to pay the taxes on overseas accounts. Was Romney’s 2010 tax return… the year he paid a peak of 13.9%… the result of paying back taxes AND penalties as part of that deal? How would it look if the GOP nominee for president “is a crook” (to quote another Republican, Richard Nixon)? Is it any wonder Mitt absolutely refuses to just release his taxes and prove all his critics wrong? Virgina Governor Bob “if you can read this vaginal probe, your government is too close” McDonnell was on “Meet the Press” yesterday declaring that “the Democrats obsession with Governor Romney’s taxes is a distraction” because Democrats are afraid to talk about anything else. This just moments after he finished accusing VP Biden of “racism” for his “y’all in chains” remark.
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out if I should be “impressed”, or perhaps “relieved”, when the multimillionaires on the GOP ticket tell me they both paid the tax rate of a family of four making less than $40,000/year?
Note: To any masochists out there, you can find Romney & Ryan’s tax returns here on the Romney campaign website.
PS: Another question: Why did Paul Ryan introduce his mother as “dependent on Medicare” when he’s worth almost $5 Million dollars? Do YOU believe Ryan’s mother is dependent on Medicare, and would be in trouble if the program were voucherized the way her son wants?
PPS: If you’re wondering why I didn’t discuss the “Medicare” debate this week, it’s because THAT is the REAL distraction. Notice how talk of Romney’s taxes seem to have fallen by the wayside since they adopted the Rovian tactic of attacking critics on your own greatest weakness? (see: Draft Dodger Bush “Swift-Boating” war hero Kerry.)
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