I have to admit, even as cynical as I can sometimes be, I really didn’t expect Mitt’s tax returns to be this… illustrative. Yes, I fully expected them to be a clear example of why the Buffet Rule is going to be contrasted all summer with the newly-coined alternative, the “Romney Rule.” We all knew that Mitt has been basically “unemployed” for the last five years, unless you count running for president, and as a result, most of his income would come from investments. We knew that.
So, sure, we knew that Mitt would probably be using a provision called Carried Interest to reduce his tax burden to somewhere around 15%, while many working Americans pay somewhere between 20-28%. And that’s a problem for Mitt. Because while almost all liberals and moderates and even many conservatives and even Adam Fricking Smith believe in a progressive tax structure, very few people, if any, would ever suggest a regressive tax structure.
Let’s remember here what the supposedly conservative position is on taxes. The Flat Tax. Meaning, everyone pays the same rate. So what we have now is a situation that makes the flat tax seem liberal.
And make no mistake, the Romney Rule is regressive. It basically says that people like Mitt Romney who have risen to a certain level of wealth and can afford to simply let their money work for them, should pay a lower tax rate than the people who provide services and make things.
But we knew all that. Mitt told us so himself, remember:
Now, when you heard Mitt say, “probably closer to the 15% rate” didn’t you kind of figure he meant around 16% or maybe 17%? That would still be much lower than any progressive tax structure would call for. It is still even lower than a flat tax would call for.
The natural interpretation of Mitt’s statement that his tax rates are “probably closer to the 15% rate” is that he meant, “probably closer to the 15% rate than what most people pay.” Right? So, 16%, maybe 17%? Right?
Apparently, Mitt meant that his tax rate is “probably closer to the 15% rate than my preferred rate of 0%.” Because, as it turns out, Mitt paid 13.9% on his income from 2010. This is just extraordinary.
I’ve been accused of creating a Straw Man argument when I have said that conservatives think rich people should pay 15% taxes while poor people should pay more. But it turns out my supposed Straw Man argument was too generous to the actual Romney position.