Maybe I’m paying too much attention to politics

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.


  1. SallyStrange (Bigger on the Inside), Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Well, I sometimes have the same problem. But considering how much time the Daily Show has spent mocking Romney for it, I think it is going to have at least some traction. Especially since Newt’s taken to offering an “Occupy”-flavored attack on Romney as well.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    During a debate in October Herman Cain asked Romney if he could list all 59 points in his economic plan, and Romney laughed. He’s not expected to know what’s in his own proposal–or to care.

    Romney begins his proposal by observing that “In 1947, the year I was born, unemployment was 3.9 percent. In 1968, when I turned 21, it was 3.6 percent.” What he doesn’t say is that the top marginal tax rate in 1947 was more than 86%, and that in 1968 it was 75%. Today it’s 35%, and Romney wants to drive it down even more.

    The Romney plan would make it even easier for companies to send jobs overseas. It would lower their taxes and remove the regulations whose removal led to the meltdown of 2008. It would accelerate the destruction of the middle class by taking away collective bargaining rights and cut all government spending–including the kinds that create jobs and keep us safe on the highways and in the air.

    When Republicans rejected Obama’s jobs act last year, their alternative proposal was … nothing. Their sole motivation appeared to be not letting Obama succeed, even if millions of Americans suffered as a result. Obama’s infrastructure proposal was much more modest than the one signed by George W. Bush, during a period when it was much less needed. But they rejected it anyway.

    There’s no common thread here except self-interest–and the fact that they all help wealthy individual and corporate donors. This dovetails nicely with the Tea Party’s “Disco Inferno” attitude toward government: “Burn the mutha on down.” That’s smart from a purely opportunistic point of view. But it leaves no room for negotiation.

    Romney understands numbers. He can read a spreadsheet. That’s why I’m so certain he knows he’s speaking nonsense. As a business person, he knows how smart it would be to borrow money at today’s historically low rates and then invest it in jobs, growth, and infrastructure. But that wouldn’t serve his interests or those of his patrons, so he’s not going to tell you that.

  3. says

    Shalom Mano,

    Funny you should bring this up. I had a conversation last evening about this year-long circus and commented that you had made a pledge of sorts to ignore the spectacle (I did search for the original post, but didn’t find it) but had succumb to the train wreck.

    Here is my official bat-shit crazy conspiracy theory: all of the Republican presidential candidates, save one, can you guess which? have been hired by Mitt Romney to take part in this show and have enjoyed, in turn, a moment in the sun. All of the money, filtered through Super PACs, &c., is, in fact, Romney’s and the only candidate not in on the scheme, and the only candidate to not briefly be a front runner, is Ron Paul.

    The end result is that Romney has engineered hundreds and hundreds of hours of free television time under the guise of a horse race that was decided back in 2008.

    I now return to my normal, reasonably sane outlook on life and politics.



  4. sailor1031 says

    Even before Obama’s inauguration Mitch McConnell, Boehner, Cantor and the rest of the republican gang were vowing to do everything they could to “make him fail”, to ensure that “he’ll be a one-term president”. Everything they have done since is consistent with that policy, which is the only policy the republicans have had since 1/20/2009. Other than insisting on lower taxes for the rich they have proposed nothing to solve the crises that they themselves created.

    A great pity that the american electorate has such a bad case of amnesia that any of these republican fools can be taken seriously as candidates for anything. Seriously, would you want Mittens, or the Grinch, or santorum* or Paul as your local animal control operative?

    * santorum is not capitalized because it is not, apparently, a proper name.


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