NEW YORK—Hello! Are you all gathered inside a quiet room? Yes? Good, because now we can all finally discuss the subject of Mitt Romney’s tax returns. Which are amazing!! And sure, yes, we admit we’re only fascinated with them because of our “envy” and “class warfare” and whatever else, but still: this is important to talk about! And no better time than now, because on the one hand we have a very unlikeable man who nobody seems to like very much (because he’s basically a robot) who’s taking up the mantle of “free enterprise” (read: “ruthless greed”)—a man whose tax plan would see his rock-bottom rate go unchanged (or get decreased, depending on who you ask) while actually raising it on incomes under $40k—and he’s offering up a very different vision for the country compared with that of cuddly hipster bespectacled uber-billionaire Warren Buffet—who just wants to ring in Chinese New Years by playing the ukulele and also maybe see rich people pay their fair share in taxes. Unlikeable robot man vs. cuddly hipster bespectacled ukulele-playing uber-billionaire? Yes! Let’s definitely keep talking about this.
So what do we know now that we didn’t know before? Well, not much really. But now we know it know it. It’s a known known, as it were: Mitt pays 13% in taxes on over $20 million in income; Mitt paid a tax rate exactly half as much as the sitting president paid on one-twentieth as much income; Mitt has various holdings in faraway places like Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands. Mitt also had a Swiss bank account! (that he recently closed because it posed something of a political problem) (you don’t say) In short: Mitt is a very, very rich man.
And now we know exactly how much money he makes! Or, for the last two years at least: there are people out there speculating that the reason we haven’t seen more is because (wait for it) Mitt’s got something to hide. Which, considering Brian Williams reminded Mitt at last night’s debate that he handed over twenty-three years of tax returns to the McCain campaign when he was being vetted for vice president—and then they went and chose Sarah Palin instead—is probably a safe assumption! But at least knowing what we do now we can actually have an ever so slightly more informed discussion about What We Talk About When We Talk About Fairness.
In fact, let’s revisit a column from a couple months back that we admire very much, considering it was authored by a very nefarious trickster who somehow managed to slip this socialist screed past his editors at Forbes magazine. It’s worth quoting at length:
Income and wealth disparities become even more absurd if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation’s earners—rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%—about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million—are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.
It’s crystal clear that the Bush tax reduction on capital gains and dividend income in 2003 was the cutting edge policy that has created the immense increase in net worth of corporate executives, Wall St. professionals and other entrepreneurs.
The reduction in the tax from 20% to 15% continued the step-by-step tradition of cutting this tax to create more wealth. It had first been reduced from 35% in 1978 at a time of stock market and economic stagnation to 28%. Again in 1981, at the start of the Reagan era, it was reduced again to 20%—raised back to 28% in 1987, on the eve of the October 19 232% crash in the market. In 1997 Clinton agreed to reduce it back to 20%, which move was an inducement for the explosion of hedge funds and private equity firms—the most “rapidly rising cohort within the top 1 per cent.”
So: thirty-five years ago Mitt Romney would have been paying twice as much in taxes—and he still would have enjoyed a rate far lower than that of the average American. And he would like to see this rate stay exactly the same—if not lower! All of which stands in stark contrast to the competing vision the President will be offering up at tonight’s State of the Union. Which you should be sure to tune into! We’ll be liveblogging it right here. (Don’t forget to drink every time the camera pans to show a Republican and a Democrat sitting next to each other in some meaningless show of bipartisan unity.)
Anyhow, that’s actually more or less all the news that’s fit to gif today? Because what else is there to say?! It’s like we’re actually living the script of “Groundhog Day”: Rick Santorum said something stupid yesterday? Covered. The Republicans debated again? Also covered. Just about the only other thing to happen in the world yesterday was that some angry bearded man who spends his days getting pelted by large rubber objects refused an invite to the White House—and probably established himself as the next front-runner in the Republican nomination. Keep a close eye on his InTrade numbers!