we haz a confused

NYT’s Mitt Romney Beat-Sweetener Story Curiously Skimpy On Heart-Warmth

For I'm a jolly good fellow, fellows!Wonkers are all media elites and State Department retirees, so we don’t need to explain to you that a “beat sweetener” is a puff piece about a person, place, or thing meant to guarantee further access down the line. And that seems to be the purpose of this New York Times piece on Mitt Romney selling a house to a couple of Olds. The gauzily written piece, though, seems to promise a lot more heart-warming generosity than actually surfaces. It’s confusing, really, unless the purpose of the piece is to (again) show that Mitt Romney is actually sort of a horrible businessman.

So Romney bought some rent-to-own houses, one for each son, as an investment. (Good thing rent-to-own is never shady.) But then the market crashed, and the rent-to-own houses weren’t worth anything, because Mitt Romney is terrible at business. So after a while, Romney called up the Olds who lived in one of the houses, and offered to sell it to them. And that’s … it?

Oh, right, no, he also got some hefty deductions off the whole thing:

The deal, Mr. Jolly said, was “a marvelous scheme” to help renters who could not qualify for a mortgage to eventually buy their houses, while allowing investors to write off depreciation and mortgage interest on their taxes without risking their own money: most purchases were 100-percent financed with first and second mortgages from Texas banks.

The prospectus for the investment, called the Gem Plan, played up the tax shelter benefits, saying it was structured “so that deductions are projected to be twice the amount of the cash required each year.”

Win-win, obviously.

Mr. Romney borrowed more than $300,000 to buy the properties, according to property records. Rental income covered expenses for a time, but with the market downturn in the 1980s, the deal quickly soured.

Property records show that liens for unpaid community association fees were filed against two of Mr. Romney’s houses and that the mortgages on them were soon underwater. By the end of the decade, the homebuilder who sold the houses to Mr. Romney went bankrupt, and some other investors’ houses were in foreclosure.

So to get out from under these moneypits, Romney offered one of the houses to his renters. And that is the entire story of what a great guy Mitt Romney is, and a marvelous illustration of his unheralded generosity.

No, here’s one thing that might be genuinely nice:

When Mr. Stamps took the call from Mr. Romney, he and his wife, a nurse, had all but given up hope of being able to buy the house they had been renting for five years. Mr. Romney told him it looked like the couple had been taking good care of the property and that “we would be good people to buy it,” said Mr. Stamps.

Or he could have just wanted someone, anyone, to take the “sour” deal off his hands. Anyway, this nice couple has been paying Mitt Romney $600 per month for the past 15 years on their $50,000 mortgage that he personally holds. So, to recap, Mitt Romney is a great guy because he might sell you something that is no longer making him money. The Torah says to do your good deeds in secret; Mitt Romney seems to have really taken the stricture to heart.


About the author

Rebecca is the editor and publisher of Wonkette. She is the author of Commie Girl in the O.C., a collection of her OC Weekly columns, and the former editor of LA CityBeat. Go visit her Commie Girl Collective, and follow her on the Twitter!

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    1. JustPixelz

      A little OT, but Rinse Penis says "show us the tax returns" is the EXACT SAME THING as "show us the birth certificate". I can think of five differences without breaking a sweat. Anyhootenany, poor* Mittens doesn't like being vettenated.
      * he's not really poor

      1. Willardbot9000_V2.5

        Yes except there's one little, teeny detail Reich Penis has left out while trying to draw a straight line between birthers and worthers: Bamz released the cert. multiple times. He released it as part of Presidential filings, he released it to the media..he released it to organization after organization. When the race-baggers still wouldn't shut the fuck up he released a copy going well above the legal requirments for the document. So, when Reich is trying to pretend the two are equivolents someone should remind them of the key distinction: over and above v. bupkis. He needs to just the shut the fuck up and go change his name, also.

    1. Callyson

      Hey! I *like* chocolate…

      …oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be trying to lose a few pounds…

      Please can we have the fudge-packing pic of Mittens?

      1. mlle_derp

        Don't know about you, but I find that ANY pic of Mitt acts as an appetite suppressant.

        But if chocolate is your weakness, I can see how that one would linger in the mind & have a more long-lasting effect.

      2. chicken_thief

        The quality chocolate is supposed to be essentially fat/sugar free. Skip the Hershey's and go for the Godiva and lose, lose, lose those pesky pounds!

      3. Angry_Marmot

        If any of you are thinking fudge packing ≡ chocolate consumption (as)
        drinking ≡ vodka tampon, I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment.

  1. Harrison Wintergreen

    "Wonkers are all media elites and State Department retirees…"

    Uh oh. I'm neither; should I self-deport?

    1. rickmaci

      Hmmm. Never worked in the State Department. I did work one summer when I was in school in the Shoe Department of a department store, so maybe that is close enough.

  2. freakishlywrong

    Has this idiot bought a baseball team or an oil company yet? He sounds about as savvy as the last asshole Republican we had in there.

      1. OneYieldRegular

        I still don't understand in the least why someone as out of touch and unsuited for the international stage as Mitt Romney is running for President, unless it's to help settle some unresolved psychological daddy thing.

        1. HistoriCat

          I'm working on a theory – Mitt was OK with calling it quits after 2008 (hey – I tried Dad, hope you're proud of me!) but Ann pushed him into running again.

      1. iburl

        Well, it helps that his dad was alive when rich people were taxed at 90% and now they can pay no taxes for 10 years (so I've heard).

  3. YouBetcha

    Good luck trying to explain a real estate transaction with any degree of complexity to the average Romney voter. All they see is "Romney" and "olds", and they're set. I betcha the black fella never gave houses to the AARP. Also, death panels.

  4. beezie687

    So Mittens dumped his toxic asset on an unsuspecting middle class. Yep, that sounds about right!

  5. Goonemeritus

    Well if he wins the election maybe at the end of his term he will offer to sell the country back to us.

  6. johnnyzhivago

    Mr. Jolly, 76, laughed when told that Mr. Romney was still collecting mortgage payments on one of the houses he talked him into buying 30 years ago.

    “That sounds like Mitt,” he said. “He never gives up.”

    I'm sure he's still collecting interest on the 25 cents he lent to some kid to buy bubble gum 60 years ago too…

    1. lunchbox360

      I sure he is still pissed he didn't charge that "ALTERNATIVE LIFE STYLED" kid he knew in high school for his hair cut.

  7. ChillBill

    As a NYT commenter pointed out, if you do the math, the old man is apparently paying "Good Samaritan" Mitt and interest rate of 13% for this loan.

    1. Oblios_Cap

      If the old feller put into savings, he'd only be able to make 1.5%. It's not like the cash is doing him any good.

      Besides, the payment is all going to interest. So Mr. Old can write it off his taxes, I'm sure.

    2. Tundra Grifter


      A 30-year $50,000 mortgage that has a $600 monthly payment works out to 14.19% interest. Obviously, one would have to read the note, but that's the answer based on the available information.

      It does make one wonder what the rent was fifteen years ago.

      Some of these "lease-to-own" deals have a combination rent/downpayment structure in the early years. That's one of the reasons they are often crappy deals for the buyer. The "down" is forfit if the buyer can't perform.

      What's really astonishing about this deal is that some smooth talker didn't refinance the mortgage during the sub-prime mortgage heyday.

        1. SorosBot

          That was the liberal socialist hippie Jesus; the good free-market supply-side Jesus from Conservapedia's rewriting of the Bible totally supports the money changers.

        1. Tundra Grifter


          One of his problems is that he's probably been paying his mortgage to (r)Money like clockwork, but (r)Money doesn't report to a credit bureau. So the Stamps are not improving their FICO score with a decade and a half of excellent payment history.

          It's very tough to rebuild a positive credit history if you don't keep using credit in a responsible manner.

      1. BerkeleyBear

        For that matter, a 14 percent loan in 1997 was pretty high end. Even before sub-prime went global, double digits were pretty rare in the late 90s/early 00s – makes me wonder what math (if any) went into the note beyond "So, how much can you afford to pay for the rest of your life?"

    1. Isyaignert

      OT – but I hate beets too – they taste like dirt. When I was a kid my mom would make me eat them, but I thought I was so smart to stealthily put them in my hand, then drop them on the floor under my chair to be retrieved later. Since I had to wash dishes and sweep the kitchen floor every night after dinner, it seemed like a brilliant plan, except that the kitchen floor that was once white, now had permanant big purple dots. Busted!!

    2. Geminisunmars

      Yum. Pickled beets. But you gotta remember that you've eaten them when you next go to the toilet.

  8. ManchuCandidate

    Even the puff pieces are robotic. Hey Mittens, I'll even give you a new campaign slogan (for free.)

    "Vote for Mitt, He's got the personality and charisma of an Excel Spreadsheet."*

    *but not the Paperclip. Gilbert Gottfried exudes warmth and charisma that Mittens can not match.

  9. weejee

    And this is vastly different than used car peddlers using rattle-can black spray paint to put a happy face on an oil-leaking engine block?

  10. Callyson

    a “beat sweetener” is a puff piece about a person, place, or thing meant to guarantee further access down the line

    You mean it isn't a house music technique? Or an S&M treat? Yawn…

  11. second_gen

    What an awesome guy. So far, he's only made a profit of $57,500 off this deal, not including the likely $36,000 he got from them for rent. Over all, I'd say he's a philanthropist for only getting $93500 in profit off of them from a $50,000 home. (so far)

  12. GuyClinch

    Hey, I've been paying Mr. Romney every week on the title loan he gave me on my 1994 Ford Aspire since 2007, and he's been more than fair. 229% is a good interest rate, right?

  13. SheriffRoscoe

    Romney sits atop a giant no-money-down real estate pyramid scheme. Wise investors will want to get in before the whole thing collapses.

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      Maybe the image of Mitt sitting on top of a sharp-pointy pyramid is the best that I can take away from this Friday's news. Gonna be a bad weekend.

  14. edgydrifter

    Romney felt his renters would be "good people" to buy the house because their money was just the right height.

  15. Biel_ze_Bubba

    Foisting his failed investments off on others? Where have we seen that before? I bet Mitt's unhappy that he didn't get to fire anybody first.

  16. Oblios_Cap

    He couldn't just give the house to the Oldz – how would they ever learn about the benefits of good, hard work?

  17. Generation[redacted]

    Mitt Romney gave me a payday loan with no credit check! And then another payday loan to pay off the previous one! He's a prince of a guy.

  18. James Michael Curley

    This is totally bogus. A little closer examination by the Times reporter should reveal that Congress, in 1997, was trying to shed as much of the property as possible that had been acquired by the Feds (remember the Savings and Loan Debacle?) in various agencies to prevent numerous savings banks from going under – Lincoln Trust anyone.

    The Torch (Robert Torricelli) was one of the principal sponsors of the bill which effectively shed all the Resolution Trust properties but gave mortgagors a little kicker, like 1.75 percentage points over open market mortgage rates with the 1.75 % being paid by Fannie Mae to help guarantee the loans for the mortgagees. In half a year tens of thousands of parcels of property were snapped up at prices which often were above market; but many were at 'fire sale' prices. The new owner then was faced with a mortgage which was fairly competitive but as long as he had the same mortgage the mortgagor got that extra bonus payment.

    Nobody liked it but the thinking was it was going to be the only way to get the properties off the books. It was also know that many non banking groups would benefit.

    Of course, Mitt could then have taken a healthy depreciation on the property, even filing as an individual with a tax deduction which no longer exists.

  19. Tundra Grifter

    Thank you for explaining “beat sweetener.”

    When I first read it I thought it was fap oil.

  20. Franknflower

    All I got out of that is that the Riches have elaborate schemes for making money out of failure.

  21. pinkocommi

    If Romney likes firing people so much, just imagine the thrills he'd get from evicting them.

  22. SayItWithWookies

    See kids — if you work hard and save your pennies and say your prayers, then one day maybe Mitten Claus will make a fairly standard real estate deal with you. Try not to look too excited.

  23. OneYieldRegular

    As a bonus, Mitt told the Stamps that if they just kept tilling the land for another seven years, they'd be able to buy their freedom from serfdom.

  24. imissopus

    The Torah might say to do all your good deeds in secret, but the golden tablets of Moroni say to fleece all the gentiles because they are a bunch of suckers and you want your own planet someday, don't you?

    1. schvitzatura

      I lent a ladder to an LDSer neighbor so he could put up some shelves over the weekend. Should I expect to see the ladder back? I'm not of the momo persuasion, fwiw. Have I been taken in by his gentle, polite demeanor?

      I fully expect him to give me a can of hobo beans from his 1-year SHTF Momo Caloric Stockpile, when the economy goes south this fall, as payment in kind to allow him to increase his compound's neatly-ordered storage capacity.

  25. ph7

    It's only coincidence when an investment that does well for Mitt does well for the guy at the other end of the deal. In fact, if probably pisses Mitt off – to him, it means he left something on the table.

  26. elviouslyqueer

    Mr. Jolly, 76, laughed when told that Mr. Romney was still collecting mortgage payments on one of the houses he talked him into buying 30 years ago. “That sounds like Mitt,” he said. “He never gives up.”

    You laugh, Mr. Jolly, but I double-dog dare you to miss ONE. SINGLE. PAYMENT.

  27. widestanceromance

    What bank would give Willard a loan? He hasn't had a job in years, and has only applied for the same one 3 or 4 times in the last 7 or so years.

  28. mrblifil

    I think we're supposed to come away from the article thinking Mitt gave away a house as a gift because he's charitable. Also it is carefully pointed out that the people "took care of the property" just in case we're worried that the largeness of Mitt's heart might have led him to doing something nice for the niggers.

  29. TootsStansbury

    I hope the appraiser doesn't smell a rat, likes the shady trees on the property, notices the heat works so the olds don't have to wear fleece around the house .

  30. mlle_derp

    "The Torah says to do your good deeds in secret."

    Finally we understand why Mitt won't release his tax returns!

  31. rickmaci

    "Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, declined to answer questions about the Texas investment."

    Bwhahahahahahahhaha. I'll be Andrea is keeping her yap shut these days.

  32. NYNYNYjr

    Hmm. Yeah. WHat the hell? And he's going to keep collecting for how long? So where did the guy mentioned above get 13% interest rate?

  33. Chet Kincaid_

    Just skimming this story, but are you saying that Mitt bought the North Pole, charged Santa rent, and then sold "Mr. and Mrs. Jolly" their house back?! That cold-hearted bastard.

  34. Calapine

    Thanks for counting me as part of the elite! *feels good about self*
    THAT's how you keep readers!

  35. pdiddycornchips

    "So Romney bought some rent-to-own houses, one for each son, as an investment."

    RMoney needs to teach those kids how to make a decent living off the backs of the poors.
    How else will they learn? If all they have to go by is his rhetoric, they might think the children of wealth are expected to do actual work.

  36. DahBoner

    "Mitt Romney seems to have really taken the stricture to heart"

    As much as I would like to put a 'stricture' in Romney's heart, you're almost implying here that Mormons are "real" Christians?

  37. Biff

    The current "woman I am hoping to bone" is living in a similar housing situation. I sure can pick 'em.

  38. ttommyunger

    And considering that John Negroponte handles payment collections, you really don't want to be late.

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