On Friday Romney released his 2011 tax forms, confirming *gasp* everything we already know. Romney is wealthy, makes most of it from investment funds offshore, pays an effective lower federal tax rate (14%) than most Americans, benefits from tax loopholes, and donates a lot of money to charity. Some people find fault with the fact that he did not take as large of a tax deduction as he could have based on his charitable donations, but I don’t care. Sure, maybe he only did that to stay consistent with his 13% statement, but whatever. That’s $262,500 he let the government have, which is more than I’d be willing to let go.
I don’t know about you guys, but with forty or so days left in the running, this move smacks a little of desperation. I don’t know who’s calling the shots over at the Romney campaign, but someone should probably hand them a cardboard box and tell them to start clearing out their things. The whole “demonstrate vigorous leadership and decisiveness” with preemptive Libya comments really didn’t pan out for Romney, and neither is this latest move.
We get it, Romney is rich. But honestly, that alone is not a reason to hate this guy. As far as I can tell, the current tax system is built to favor those who know how to play the game. Romney just knows how to play this game very, very well. So he comes from money, he made a lot of money, and apparently he’s really good at raising money. So much so he’s drawn conservative criticism that he seems to be spending more time fundraising than he is campaigning. Is it a terrible thing for a rich guy who knows how to make money run for presidency?
Obviously, the answer is no. But it takes more than just money and schmoozing power to bring about meaningful change to American society. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer–isn’t that how it goes? Romney’s in the rich getting richer camp and as much as I don’t want this to be about class warfare, I can’t help but feel that this election is about the rich vs poor.
This is sheer anecdotal evidence, but to go back to my otherwise liberal but Romney-supporting old co-workers, despite being (hah!) otherwise fairly grounded people, all of them attended expensive, elite schools, have fancy MBAs, admire consulting firms like Bain and Co. and McKinsey, and are the type that serve as directors and executives. They geek out over brilliant business plans the way I’d geek out over the latest video game. They like money (after all, who doesn’t?) and in some ways, they’re not that different from someone voting for Obama. They want to make more money and they want to keep more of it. But since they already have education and money-earning power, their chief concern is not to get by or get to a place of money-earning potential, but to become wealthy. And since they are business development guys, they have a very real understanding of how money can make a difference. After all, America is in serious financial trouble. Who better than to bail us out than someone with a proven record of making money (and making it work for him!)?
But I’d like to think, at least personally, that serving in public office is about more than just making money. If these newly released tax returns served any purpose, it was to underscore that this guy doesn’t even begin to understand what it’s like for “regular” people.
His wife doesn’t help either. I can’t tell you how offended I was when Ann Romney tried to show that she and Mitt understood what it was to deal with hardship. Here, I’ll quote the particularly offensive line for you.
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage.” Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer.”
So you guys pay 14% in taxes and you consider being able to be at home with your children (and being able to afford to have five children) an example of genuine hardship? I made sure to include the part about MS and breast cancer (which I see dropped a lot) because I do genuinely feel for her. I deal with cancer very close to home myself, and it’s just sh*t you have to live with.
But what she doesn’t get is there are women out there who have to work full-time, worry about paying the bills, raising their children, AND deal with something awful like cancer, all at the same time. I’m not saying she and Romney needed to have gone through terrible times for Romney to lead our country, it’s just obvious they both totally don’t get why people say they are “out of touch” with the common people. Releasing these tax forms and not anticipating it would inflame this issue only further reinforces this perception.
God. I wish I paid 14% in taxes.