There is a downside to following politics too closely in that it can cause you to misjudge the impact of a news story on the general public. Take the case of Mitt Romney’s taxes. It has been known for a long time amongst the cognoscenti that not only was he wealthy but that his income came from investments and thus would be taxed at the capital gains rate that was reduced to 15% in 2003. So when his tax returns for 2010 were released showing that he earned a whopping $21.6 million and paid just 13.9% in taxes, it did not come as too much of a surprise, to me at least.
But readers seems to think that the general public will be astounded at three things: that Mitt Romney earned such a lot of money, that he did so without doing a day’s real work for it; and that he pays taxes at a far lower rate than most people.
Economist Paul Krugman also seems to think Romney’s tax issue could be a big deal and thinks that he should release the returns from earlier years to put to rest “suspicions that he began sanitizing his portfolio in preparation for his presidential run.” Greg Sargent says that Romney’s opponents, especially president Obama if Romney ends up as the Republican nominee, will not let it rest.
Will this issue have legs? I didn’t think it would but as I said, maybe I’m following things too closely to be a good judge.