Politics Posts by Subject

Mitt Romney paid taxes at a rate of at least 13 percent. And he’s proud to say so.

Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.


Am I supposed to congratulate this man?  Thank him for his good citizenship?  Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?

Thirteen percent.  The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college.  If not, it was my first couple years as a newspaper reporter.  Since then, the paychecks have been just fine, thanks, and I don’t see any reason not to pay at the rate appropriate to my earnings, given that I’m writing the check to the same government that provided the economic environment that allowed for such incomes.

I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly:  Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent.  I swear.  And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail.  But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits.  I’m just not that kind of guy.


This republic is just about over, isn’t it?



  • In his nonsite.org editorial trying to understand why Treme is so bad, Adolph Reed, Jr. wrote:

    Simon was also undone by not having a clear critical perspective on neoliberal capitalism – as either free-market utopian ideology or pragmatic program for relentless upward redistribution – and its logic of systemic reproduction. He has a brilliant feel for the social and institutional impact of deindustrialization on cities and the urban working class at both individual and group levels. He portrayed that impact with truly rare grace and intelligence in The Wire. But he lacks a coherent view of the larger forces that drive deindustrialization, which he is inclined instead to characterize in moralistic terms. In The Wire this tendency extends to reifying the moment of postwar working-class economic mobility as a Golden Age, a natural moral order which greedy, self-centered or insensitive corporate elites and their minions have violated.

    This post illustrates Reed’s point of ignoring the “logic of systemic reproduction” of neoliberal capitalism (and, as always, ignoring Obama’s insidious role furthering the neoliberal agenda … wouldn’t want to offend) in favor of moralistic rhetoric, only substantiated by comments below, such as, “A republic will stand or fall on the willingness of its elites to support and defend the commonweal along with everyone else.” Oh, would that our betters would behave morally correct. Vomit.

    • I’m sorry this fellow didn’t enjoy Treme.

      As to the rest of that, well, I’m only certain that I probably don’t want to be at a party and get caught in a corner between you two fellows.

  • Things my income taxes go towards: war, GMO subsidies, corporate subsidies, administration, the richest banks in the world, the jerk ticketing or towing my car, the welfare workers, universities espousing the status quo, war, old wealthy retired folk, the IRS agent auditing me, the NSA agent reading this post, the creeps at TSA, the war on natural medicines, regulators targeting small family farms, John Boehner’s orange tan, depleted uranium research, Pentagon propaganda, the war on drugs, covert CIA coups overseas, war, funding dictators, a prison for you and me to live in, etc.

    Things my income taxes don’t go towards: making the world a better place. Taxes are unconstitutional and do nothing except perpetuate the salaries and growth of the parasites in government.

    • I don’t know what to say.

      This isn’t really grown-up thinking. I don’t want to be insulting to you personally, but I feel as if to respond in detail
      to that would have all the utility of slowly explaining to a recalcitrant child why you can’t always get what you want.

      The federal budget is, de facto, a compromise document that includes every aspiration — worthy, unworthy, middling — of a representative
      collective that we call the United States of America. It is a republic. Citizenship in that republic requires all of us,
      without exception, to pay for a proportional share of the costs of establishing, maintaining and sustaining that republic.
      We must all pay our share, proportional to our economic gain under the auspices of that republic, for those things we agree
      with and utilize, for those things to which we are indifferent, and even for those things to which we are fundamentally opposed.
      I just finished some years of helping pay for an appalling misadventure in a place called Iraq, but at no point did it occur
      to me to resist the responsibilities of citizenship in this republic. You have, in effect, just called “parasites” the young men and women
      who were asked to fight and die in that godforsaken place. I know you weren’t thinking of them, or of the mail carrier who
      brings mail-order medicine to some rural postal boxes, or some specialist at the Center for Disease Control who is trying to
      figure out where the latest salmonella outbreak is coming from when you launched your
      ridiculous hyperbole, you imagined some indifferent, lazy bureaucrat in an agency that you care nothing for, but that’s the
      thing with ideology and hyperbole and cant. It leads those who color their thinking with such garish hues to some ridiculous

      When your family was trying to figure out how to spend a day’s vacation and they picked some museums or parks or sites in which
      you had no interest or even a fundamental distaste, did you roll around on the carpet trashing the role of the family and their
      collective choices in your life, or did you suck it and go along, knowing that at other points, your priorities would be served
      within the collective. Because, brother, with the post above you have shown yourself to be rolling on the carpet in front of
      a good many other readers on this forum, and frankly, it’s a little embarrassing.

  • Nice post Mr. Simon. I’d add that it’s not that one expects patriots to pay more than the law states they owe (many commenters act as if Mr Romney files a 1040EZ and would need to write an additional check above and beyond). The issue to me is that it’s unseemly and probably unethical for the uber-wealthy to ream out every single loop hole their cadre of lawyers can find. For example, a $77K passive business loss for a horse which is clearly a hobby for Mrs. Romney. Couldn’t you just pass on that one? Maybe not take every single advantage possibly open to you, particularly when you pay such a low percentage anyways?

    Me, I’d just like to have my student loan interest deduction back….

  • If someone commissioned me to write something more absurd than this man running for the most important position on planet earth i could never imagine any character more absurd or hypocritical than mitt romney.

    • I don’t think Romney is hypocritical, I think he is a bit of a psychopath. The scissor “prank”, riding his dog for hours on a car roof. None of that bothered him apparently. My problem with Romney, is that I can hardly relate to him. He seems to be a guy who needs other people to adjust his moral compass, and it is good that his married a good woman to guide him. But as president he will have to make moral decisions on his own. Decisions that will affect not only US citizens, but the other inhabitants of this planet as well. I’m sure Romney can handle money, he’s not alone there, so that is not a qualifier for me personally.

  • I’m confused at the fuss. Was Romney supposed to pay more? Why isn’t the IRS going after him if he should have paid more? Did Mitt Romney create the tax code? Why isn’t everyone asking to see the tax code as opposed to seeing Mitt Romney’s tax filings?

    • You are indeed confused.

      The criticism of Mr. Romney was aimed at the systemic inequity of our tax code — the fact that investment income is taxed at a considerably lower rate than salary and that the investor class, by re-defining salary as investment income and by their larger reservoir of liquid capital, can avoid their share of the responsibilities of citizenship.

      Mr. Romney did nothing illegal. But his willingness to accept this inequity and profit from it — and to advocate against changing the tax code to remedy the inequity — opens up to the legitimate criticism of many less fortunate Americans who pay more of their proportional income in taxes. It would be one thing if he stood there and acknowledged that he wasn’t being asked to do his fair share by an inequitable tax code and that he, as president, would seek to remedy such. But no, he stood there proud to have supported the republic he desires to lead to a lesser extent than millions and millions of less fortunate countrymen. That is what the fuss is about.

    • Why? Because he has lawyers. This seems silly to pay lawyers to get you a better break, but not when you consider that break is a whole lot better with a little money to the lawyer. Who created tax code? Bunch of lawyers and the people who lobby for their side. Who lobbies for their side ? The ones who have money to pay for lobby on their side. A bit circular isn’t it? A really good man or woman looks a bit further than their own noses and understands that they could connect with some of those who cannot break into the privileged circle. Robert Kennedy was one of those. He came from money but he could look further. He was not perfect but he was willing to really make things better, not just make some people richer. He was killed for his efforts. Tax code… bah. Romney is soooooooo hypocritical, not just political.

  • Thanks for picking up on that, Dave. I don’t recall EVER paying taxes at a rate below 20 percent, but I could be misremembering. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat and I’m about ready to emigrate elsewhere given our choices this November since I think they are both lying liars. Either one of them says they will or they won’t do something, I count on the opposite.

    The mild irony is I actually kind of liked George Romney. But between a man who gave us our own version of Nacht und Nebel and another man who appears to sekritly think he’s the reincarnation of Joseph Smith, I’d like to skip voting for the lesser of two evils and go all the way up to Cthulu. What have we got to lose.

  • So explain to me why the POTUS policy contributing investor Warren Buffet uses the exact same investment and Income techniques as Mitt Romney and nobody cares.. Oh Warren Buffet says its wrong then why does he still used it? Amazingly it is because it is legal and therefor he does.

    People, when a guy makes as much money as Mitt and then pays 13% of it to the government and then does his religious duty and pays 10% to his church and then gives on top of that:

    The Belmont Hill School ($5,000)
    Best Friends Foundation ($15,000)
    Boys and Girls Club Of Boston ($10,000)
    Brigham Young University ($25,000)
    Center For Treatment of Pediatric MS ($75,000)
    City Year ($5,000)
    Dana Farber Cancer Institute ($10,000)
    Dana Farber Pan Mass Challenge ($20,000)
    Deseret International ($25,000)
    Friends Of The Belmont Council ($20,000)
    George W. Bush Library ($100,000)
    Harvard Business School ($10,000)
    Camp High Hopes ($5,000)
    Homes For Our Troops ($20,000)
    Inner-City Scholarship Fund ($10,000)
    Joey Fund For Cystic Fybrosis ($20,000)
    MMOFRA Trom Foundation ($30,000)
    MS Cure ($10,000)
    Operation Kids ($65,000)
    Right To Play ($10,000)
    US Equestrian Team Foundation ($10,000)
    Wright Museum ($25,000)

    Tell me what has the man done for America. I would love to know if any of you have given 200 dollars to any charity when called upon.

    • I have and more from a very much smaller income. Let’s just say I have not gotten to the six digits yet but I am in the middle 5 digits. This list is paltry from a family that has so much. I have known much lower wage people who give way more in terms of percentage of income to charity and that is after they have taken the hit with higher per cent taxes.

    • You seem to be deeply confused about what charity is.

      Charity is freely giving succor to those in need. You seem to equate it with an alternative opinion to paying one’s taxes, which is
      a basic responsibility of citizenship in a democracy.

      Many of the people who — because of the inequities in the federal tax code — are taxed at significantly higher rates than Mr. Romney also give to charity, despite their proportionally larger tax liability. Many of them, indeed, give just as or more significantly than Mr. Romney, as a proportion of their total income.

      You are entitled to pay no tax on money that you give to charity. But that is no way relevant to the issue of tax inequality we are discussing here. What money you do not give to charity, you must pay tax on. The fact that millions and millions of Americans less fortunate than Mr. Romney — some of which are also charitable givers, and some of whom may be giving as large a proportional share of their earnings — are obliged to endure significantly higher tax rates because they work for a living, rather than invest — this is the issue. It is the only issue.

      Charitable giving has exactly zero to do with that issue. And indeed, if you think that charitable giving should in any way offer more than a direct deduction for the money given, that it should instead somehow become a substitute for one’s overall tax liability, you’ve actually insulted the very idea of charity. It’s no longer giving, is it? It’s now merely an opting out of one’s responsibilities as a citizen.

      Not to mention the fact that much of the essential work of government — defense, law enforcement, interstate transportation systems, border patrol, etc. — can’t be sustained by charitable giving. Government is government. Charity is charity. The former is required of all of us, in proportion to our earnings, if this is going to remain a republic. It is a fundamental responsibility of citizenship. The latter is honorable, voluntary and humane behavior that is between an individual and conscience.

      That you have conflated the two to make a political argument is rather embarrassing, frankly.

      • I just want to congratulate you on how incredibly awesome your post and responses to comments are. You are incredibly poignant, concise, knowledgeable, and forthright, all without sounding like an asshole. Well done sir.

      • Mr. Simon, while I love your responses to those who disagree with you, I am frustrated by the fact that your seemingly logical explanations confuse them. How do you explain “your fair share” when fair is such a debatable term? On another note I am a huge fan of your TV work and will check the newly found blog often! Keep up the brilliant work.

    • Really? You’re going to bring Warren Buffet into this? Warren Buffet is one of the strongest advocates on raising taxes on the wealthy and he’s been advocating it for years.

      Religious duty? Some of us aren’t religious at all and even if I was I wouldn’t necessarily to believe that giving money to a religious institution was the most effective way to help other people. But I digress.

      Mitt Romney’s charitable donations are not the issue. The issue is that the U.S. tax code is designed in such a way that people making less than $20,000 per year can end up paying higher effective tax rates than people making $20 million per year. It is bad economic policy. It hurts the middle class who are the engine of our economy.

      Furthermore, Romney supports a tax policy that would further reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans and put additional burdens on middle class Americans. These are policies that will further reduce an already weakened aggregate demand, they will raise unemployment, and they will weaken America’s long-term fiscal health.

  • it’s his charitable contributions, folks.

    the romney’s have given away much of their income year after year to charity.

    i’m not surprised to see the far left criticize charity. they believe all works toward their brotherhood-of-man dystopia should be through government.

    you’re the laughing stock.

    • See some other responses to the corrupted notion that charitable contributions are any mitigation whatsoever for citizens paying a proportional share of the costs of maintaining and defending a republic.

      Charity is charity. If you give thinking that you are absolving yourself of a societal obligation under the canopy of representative, democratic government, you aren’t really being charitable.

      You need not pay tax on what you give away. As a collective, we respect the charitable impulse enough to grant that deduction outright. But what you don’t give away is called income, and it ought to be taxed fairly and proportionally so that all citizens contribute as they can and should for the commonweal.

      Not to mention, I’ve never seen a charity deliver the mail, maintain a military, guard the borders, track epidemiological outbreaks, maintain foreign embassies and consulates, etc. etc. etc.

      Equating one with the other, or thinking one mitigates the other is just damn embarrassing.

  • David’s not bugged that Romney’s paying what he legally owed. He’s upset that Romney seems to see no shame in paying such a low rate. He believes it is Romney’s civic and presidential-hopeful duty to pay more, or at least acknowledge that he should pay more and that he’ll do what is in his power to change the status quo, vis a vis the tax loopholes, etc.
    Which I can agree with, at least in principle, for the most part.
    What I am not getting from David’s post, and what he seems hellbent on ignoring, is practical solutions to the problem (ie, legally sanctioned human greed via the tax code). Honestly, what the hell are you asking Romney to do that is practical, legally binding, civic-minded, and doesn’t ignore every human being’s basic evolutionary urges? Given that Obama’s tax rate was only hovering at 20%, why are you singling out Romney for only paying what he owes? Sure, Obama’s rhetoric matches yours, so you’re sympatico, but in the end, even Obama has lawyers finding loopholes and paying the lowest possible rate he can. It’s human fucking nature. Citizenship has very little to do with it.

    And even though it may not matter or these numbers might not be accurate, but the Post has what seems like a pretty decent refutation of the idea that Romney pays far less than the “rest of us.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-misleading-tweet-on-romneys-taxes/2012/07/06/gJQAN3DTSW_blog.html

    David, I’d really love to hear your thoughts on SOLUTIONS that aren’t naive or brazenly optimistic about what citizenship means.

    • 1) Investment income and salaried income taxed at the same rate.
      2) Increase in tax rate of highest-earning Americans to levels at least commensurate with Eisenhower era.
      3) Across-the-board case-by-case review of all business deductions by a bipartisan commission, with an eye to
      reducing such deductions to the most direct costs.

      That would be a nice start.

      • 1. It should be a little bit lower to encourage investing. 13% is ridiculous, but I think giving people who make a modest living an incentive to invest their money would be beneficial
        2. Totally agree
        3. That might have worked 20 years ago. Nowadays, a bipartisan committee wouldn’t get anything accomplished.

      • Seconded, especially treating all income equally. Taxing work more than capital gains devalues work. Even worse, Paul Ryan’s plan to eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest means wealthy people can enjoy (and with their aggressive lobbying, trust me they are enjoying) the resources of the Federal Government (legal system, roads, defense, law enformcement and all kinds of subsidies to favored groups) while having those be paid for entirely by working people. That, my friends, is not ‘the road to serfdom’, it is SERFDOM, plain and simple.

      • I’m with you. And I agree with all but #3, since it seems the least practical and most ponderous just given the sheer number of businesses.

        I’d also suggest reducing tax deductions based on charitable donations, capping bonuses, and start penalizing Hollywood accounting (which occurs in businesses besides movie studios and tv networks).

      • Good stuff, particularly the business deductions revisit. I think if you are going to discuss getting rid of mortgage deductions and the like, you should reconsider the deductions for all types of business expenses (why should the tax benefit of something be a determinant that throws off whether or not its efficient in any given market to do or provide something).

        And lets cut out all the loopholes including offshore accounts, carried interest treatment of certain investments, partnership payroll tax loopholes, etc. that allow you to reduce your rate, not by employing your money more efficiently, but by employing lawyers and accountants more efficiently.

      • in essence, your asking for massive regulation of all businesses and “high income” earners. Sorry David, but the utopia you dream of is nothing short of a centrally planned hell for any citizen that wants to live in a free society.

        Who exactly will be in charge of a case by case review of of business deductions? I could only imagine that group of power hungry mutts looking to get off on having control of over society.

        You posted a quote recently on your blog by Ben Franklin~ “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I just don’t understand how so many smart people like yourself can read a quote like this, decipher it & understand it’s true meaning in the realm of today’s society, and then yearn for more govenrnment intervention and interference that strips us of our liberty.

        Sorry but doesn’t anyone else see tax returns and birth certificates as a complete distraction as to what’s going on? Our civil liberties are being destroyed at an alarming rate & the economy that was driven into the ground by these incompetent idiots is now being driven off the cliff. Both parties and candidates represent the same ideological (less freedom, more government) and corporate interests ( Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, et. al.) that no matter who is elected the same results will occur. Why should anyone give a crap about tax returns when the greatest wealth transfer/theft in the history of mankind is taking place right in front of our eyes by our government & nobody even seems to question what is going on. History is repeating itself. Recession -> depression -> trade war -> currency war -> world war. Why we continue to let these immoral politicians and banking elite ruin our country is beyond me

        • Really, I thought I was asking all Americans to render tax payments commensurate and proportional to their actual income.

          Our republican government has, in its day, put down a massive rebellion by regional factionalists, made itself into the arsenal of democracy at the time of totalitarian threat, sponsored massive and successful research to address diseases from polio to AIDS, and recently, traveled a select and carefully trained team of commandos halfway around the world to effect retaliation on a man who had killed thousands of Americans.

          And you are telling me that we are incapable of figuring out who makes how much money our citizenry earns and having each fulfill their proportional responsibilities as citizens of that republic?

          Brother, that’s a difference between us. I don’t want to live in a can’t-do America. I have other ambitions for my society, but they require — at their core — the we all kick in. Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it and I’m sure, from his performance the other day, he never will. From your response, I have doubts about your capacities going forward, regrettably.

          With true liberty in a republican society comes fundamental responsibilities to the collective. Libertarians very much embrace the benefits of liberty and guard them rigorously. But like young children avoiding the vegetables, they can’t summon enough core substance to accept the responsibilities of living under a representative, utilitarian collective. Your post fits in that cubbyhole a little too comfortably for me.

          • I’m all for moving this country forward, otherwise my family and i wouldn’t live here. Im more concerned w/ my sons future than mine. The difference is that you think you’re extinguishing the fire and I think you’re dousing it w/ kerosene, economically speaking. As talented as you are as a storyteller, you’re dead wrong on this issue. Economic history sides w/ my argument. You’re solution is nothing short of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

            • You know, Jason, making an argument isn’t the act of stringing an endless series of cliches together to make a paragraph. Kerosene and deck chairs aside, do you have a solitary fact to cite about why the obvious inequities in the existing American tax code should continue to to be tolerated by Americans, or why Mr. Romney’s unwillingness to address himself to such reforms ought not to engender my criticism.

              Telling someone they are dead wrong isn’t an argument, or at least, it isn’t an argument that needs anyone’s worry or interest. Explaining where they have strayed and doing so with some deliberation, well, that begins an altogether different journey.

      • Investment income is already double-taxed. For most people, including myself, that’s a pertinent point. We aren’t millionaires and taxing the crap out of us when we save instead of spending every nickel we make on new cars, electronics and entertainment doesn’t exactly send the right message either.

        The beginning to all of this is not pick and choose who we raise taxes on. Somthing along the lines of Simpson-Bowles is a good start, but was completely ignored by the current administration. Why? Because politicians of every ilk consistently abuse the tax code to reward their hand-picked favorites. What we need is transparency- eliminate most deductions and lower rates. But that’s way to obvious for most.

        I’m not going to blast the guy for legally paying his tax bill of several milllion dollars when Obama has essentially never held a job prior to politics.

        • Many see it quite the other way, that much of invested American wealth at this point is inherited and not earned, and further, that taxing wage earners at a higher rate than investors creates a culture in which work itself is asked to endure more tax burden than investment. Moreover, the wide-as-a-truck loopholes that allow folks like Mr. Romney to simply reconstitute and reclassify salary as investment income creates even greater inequity and entirely eliminates any basis for any claim that these monies are double-taxed.

          The current system is dishonest, dystopic and an insult to millions of wage-earning Americans who are asked to do more for their country than the investing class. Mr. Romney is both a beneficiary of this inequitable system and its defender, arguing against any meaningful tax reform.

          He should be ashamed. He is not ashamed. That’s the problem, from my point of view.

          • “Many see it quite the other way, that much of invested American wealth at this point is inherited and not earned”

            Perception vs. reality. Where’s your evidence? Otherwise your argument is nothing but flowery and inflammatory rhetoric.

          • Ashamed? Why should he be ashamed? Your broad, all-encompassing generalizations are shameful but typical of your ilk. He is abiding by the laws of the land…and that’s his point. That’s all.

            I am one of the millions that own stock AND pay taxes on a salary. None is inherited. It is absurd to think that I should be double tapped for investing my income back into the economy. Am I now part of your conveniently made up but mildly clever investing class? I cannot reclassify this income. FYI, it’s not a loophole it’s the law. If you want fund managers to pay differently then take that to your political representative.

            The writer doth protest too much, methinks.

          • Tim Geitner had tax problems for Gods sake. He blamed it on a complicated return. How could any sane person not have a problem with the lack of transparency in our tax code?

            Making the tax code more transparent will lead to biger tax bills for the wealthy.

            Why should he be ashamed if he followed the screwed up rules. You’r wealthy. Did you pay more than you had to? This is noth
            ng more than

            • Sorry, pre-mature tablet post. This is nothing more than a blatent attempt to deflect from the record of this administration. Personally, I can’t stand any of them. But no way am I buying this tax arguement.

            • Fitzgerald’s dictum argued that a first-rate mind can hold two seemingly opposing ideas at once. Let’s see how you do:

              1) It’s one thing for Mitt Romney to avail himself of the ridiculous, built-in inequities in the American tax code. The rules are bent and corrupted, but he played them and he did very well for himself. He has done nothing illegal.

              2) Unlike an ordinary taxpayer, Mr. Romney also aspires to lead the republic. Rather than operate from a stance of crude self-interest, he might find, if he is worthy of the American presidency, realize that he has paid less proportional tax on his earnings than millions and millions of less fortunate countrymen. And he might acknowledge this honestly and forthrightly resolve to reform the tax code as a presidential imperative.

              Get it? It’s one thing for Mr. Romney to pay only what he is required. It’s another thing for Mr. Romney to ignore the fact that the amount he pays is embarrassingly inequitable and to take his advantages as his due and to defend such a status quo. The first means he’s no better or worse than any other American. The second would actually begin to be presidential. He is capable only of the first, apparently, and therefore, in my opinion, unworthy of the presidency.

              Try to hold those two things in your head at the same time, and the discussion here may give you more reason for pause and reflection than your initial comments.

              • Well articulated, David. Whether I or any of your readers agree in totality, i think your post is thoughtful and incisive.

        • The fact that investment income is double-taxed is irrelevant when it comes to the hard fact that the investor class gets to enjoy tax rates that are substantially lower than wage earners. It’s as simple as that. My family derives some income from investments that are taxed at a lower rate, and of course I like that, but in the end it would be far more equitable if the income tax rate matched the wage income rate and the tax at the corporate level was eliminated to make it all revenue neutral.

          Addressing the “eliminate most deductions and lower rates” notion – that’s one of those shibboleths that just never seems to die, even under the most withering scrutiny. I guess that’s because there will always be folks who believe that the answer to every economic situation is to lower the tax rates. Never mind the utter illogic involved.

          As for your crack about Obama essentially never holding a job prior to politics… what’s that got to do with the topic at hand? Your assertion is a load of rubbish and you should know better. Obama worked for a year as a financial analyst after graduating from Columbia, then quit to earn far less money working for three years in Chicago as a community organizer. After Harvard Law School he spent a year running a voter registration project, then went to work an an attorney for the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, adding teaching duties at the Univ. of Chicago Law School, which he continued after being elected to Illinois state Senate (a total of 11 years of teaching). Those were all real jobs with real wages and real work involved.

          • This whole “double taxed” thing is total nonsense.

            If you earn a salary and invest, not one dollar of your income is assessed by the IRS twice. We tax transactions, not wealth. You earn your salary, and that is taxed. You can then buy all the stocks you want with your money and not one dime is taxed. If you SELL stock, and you make a profit, the profit, and the profit ALONE is taxed. Not the principal. And in fact if you LOSE money, you get a tax credit. Anyone who has ever traded stock and done their taxes knows this.

            • Well now, we are in harness together with regard to disdaining the sanctimony that surrounds the double-taxed arguments against raising capital gains taxes, I agree. But if you invest money on which you’ve already paid income tax, then indeed, by some basic logic, the profits resulting from that investment, when levied against, are indeed being subject to a secondary, specific tax. Not double-taxed per se, but taxed. And if the rate is commensurate with the income tax on wages, I can see how individual investors — especially retirees and those who rely on fixed-income investments or even mutual fund investing — could feel pressed.

              As I’ve said elsewhere on this thread, I would be able to muster more sympathy for this tragic outcome if I had the assurance that all of what goes to the markets in the name of our elites was in fact wages gleaned and taxed as wages. Close the back door, lock it, and stop cheating your fellow citizens — reform our tax code so that the gross inequalities no longer remain — and yes, there is an argument for a lower capital gains tax to which it may be worth listening. Fail to do that and the only alternative is to treat all income alike.

              But to do nothing and all tolerate this level of inequity in our society is untenable.

      • In regards to returning to the tax rate of the Ike era, you’re not taking into consideration monetary policy. You’re equating the value of the dollar in 1955 to the value of today’s dollar which is significantly less. $1 in 1955 Would buy you 3.5 gallons of gasoline. Today it would buy you 1/4 of a gallon. So while incomes have risen over the years, wealth and savings have been destroyed by inflation. Inflation is form of taxation and it is theft.

        It should also be noted that no one paid those tax rates after WW2 because the government wasn’t nearly as abusive as it is today.

      • Well during the “Eisenhower era” we collected on average less than 7.5% of GDP from individual income taxes (when the top rate was 91%) and about 25% of people paid no federal income tax. Under our current regime, we collect over 8.0% of GDP on average from individual income taxes (when the top rate was 35%) and about 50% of people pay no federal income tax. So in the emotional quest for fairness, you want more poor people to pay taxes and for us to collect less revenue overall. How exactly is that a good idea? Emotions do not good tax policy make. But it makes great fodder for the masses.

      • David,

        I can appreciate your points regarding tax rates, but I think your
        pov vis a vis investment income taxed at same rate as salaried income is off. Investment income is income that is a byproduct of funds that have already been taxed. I would agree that 13% is too low, but to suggest a tax levy that is on par with salary income is

        • Let me be precise, because my argument is rooted in the dystopic political response to the overall inequity.

          If these sonsofbitches in Washington, and by that I mean the broken branch of government known for the legislative function — if these bought-up and paid-for charlatans could ever reach down long enough to find what’s left of their courage and moral conviction to close the wide-open back door that allows the Mitt Romneys of the world to have their wealth transmitted to them not as salaried wage, but as investment income — if that could happen, well then, I might become entirely sympathetic to your argument that a higher capital gains rate is double taxation. Because in many cases, if not most individual cases, it is, if not actually double-taxation, certainly a secondary tax levied against investment profit. For the ordinary investor, I mean.

          But as they have with all things, the elites of this country have hijacked the actuality of a legitimate societal process and twisted it to different purpose. As parasites do, they have piggybacked on that legitimate economic dynamic by creating grand, Treasury-emptying loopholes in the tax code that allow them to achieve payment for services rendered at the top of the corporate food chain and to have that payment meted out as investment income. It is, in effect, a legal tax fraud, a means of allowing our richest and most entitled citizens to garner more and more wealth without contributing their fair share to the maintenance of the republic.

          So, Rebecca, give me a scenario by which this or any other Congress, lobbied and purchased as it is by capital in the first place, closes that gaping hole and eliminates that appalling inequity I will then grant you your argument — that the money coming into and out of the market truly represents money that has indeed already been taxed, and that perhaps, maintaining a tax rate on capital gains commensurate with the rate on income might not be the best tax policy. But fail to grant that, and I’m obliged to go to the heart of the matter and say, tax it all the same, regardless.

          Yes, it is the honest investor, the one who is taking his taxed, salaried earnings to the markets screwed by that. He is, indeed. But in my view, it isn’t my advocacy of a higher capital gains tax that has put the gun to the innocent party’s head and taken a hostage. The hostage-taking has already happened and it is on the part of capital itself. By cheating — and doing so by using the category of investment income to reduce that which otherwise might accrue through salary — the Big Boys are the ones with their hands on the trigger. They’ve taken the legitimate investment culture hostage. And only a fool negotiates with terrorists, or so I’ve been told.

          And guess what? If the votes are ever there to raise the capital gains tax overall, then you’re going to see a remarkable thing happen in and around the halls of Congress. At that point, when all investment income is finally threatened with a higher tax rate, then and only then will our captains of industry lower their weapon and concede the possibility of reforming the tax code and closing the holes by which they’ve betrayed their fellow citizens and taxpayers. Until they’re confronted by society’s unwillingness to give them a free ride — even at the cost of a higher rate for all — their greed will not abate.

          I understand the arguments about double-taxing perfectly well, and I am a longtime investor, too. know exactly what I’m saying. If the price of making the rich pay their share is making all of us — myself included — pay some more, then I’m going to reach for my wallet. The principle at stake is bigger than my wallet; it is not hyperbolic to say that the American experiment itself is in the balance. Are we one country, one republic — or are we two?

    • Please, address the point. The point isn’t the tax code, everyone over the age of 16 knows our tax code is screwed up, rather it is this notion that he, Willard Romney, doesn’t need to show his…tax returns, everyone else does, but not him. What makes him so special, really? So at the very least it shows he is an arrogant man and dismissvie of the public.
      The voters have the right to know more about him. The tax returns are a snap shot of the person running for President.
      Besides, most of us are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that there is nothing illegal in his returns, but how do we know for sure? Maybe we have a crook on our hands, and wouldn’t we want to know for sure?
      It should be a standard part of the vetting process.

    • You sir, are running with the wrong crowd. It is not human nature to want to hire lawyers so you can pay the absolute minimum in taxes. It is greed, pure and simple, and perhaps a little sociopathic in it’s total lack of empathy. I love paying my fair share, because I love the benefits derived. If I could divert my taxes from war, I’d be happier, but while the rightie tighties have figured out how to divert their taxes from women’s health care, I haven’t figured out how to avoid war.

  • I’m not one to defend Mitt Romney, but you do realize that capital gains are taxed at 16%. Those capital gains are AFTER TAX profits of Bain Capital.

    Blame the tax code for rewarding people who go out and build stuff, instead of the working stiffs who work for those guys.

    • Of course I am aware of that. You really, really missed the point.

      Scroll down in the comments section and you’ll catch up some.

    • Everyone does realize that it is all legal because they made it legal. The thieves made robbery legal as long as they don’t use a gun. It should have never been legal in the first place… get it.

    • Unmentioned in the piece but people who do exactly the type of work that Mitt did are very likely to have exploited the carried interest loophole, arranging their pay as capital gains and not paying income tax on them the first time.

    • “Blame the tax code for rewarding people who go out and build stuff, instead of the working stiffs who work for those guys.”

      I completely agree, Steve. But this isn’t a matter of the tax-code fairy changing it in one fell swoop. We actually have to vote for the right guys to do it.

      Ryan is selling a plan that lowers Romney’s taxes to under 1%. Why would any working stiff vote for that plan?

      Romney isn’t running for President, he is lobbying for it. And Ryan is just the guy he needs to get the job done. No taxes on the rich is the plan. They will manipulate our values in self-sufficiency and reopen racial wounds to distract us from their plan to conveniently extricate themselves from the tax code completely after two wars and a bailout.

      Romney and company are not worried about the debt. No, they want you to be, so you can be left holding the bag when they skip out of the tax system completely.

  • Mr. Romney allegedly has 100 million in his IRA, on which taxes are not paid. My question, if this is true, is how did he get 100 million into his IRA, legally, since there are contribution limits.

    • And, not to mention — the guy paid MILLIONS to the government.

      If you add up everything this author paid since he was in college — it would be a FRACTION of one year that Romney paid.

      I for one am grateful — since his extra money helped pay for my parents social security checks!

    • Half might not have paid income taxes, but they have paid other taxes, and significantly so. The reduction in the quantity of people with income tax liability is a side effect of a larger percentage of citizens with low incomes. When we start to look at the reasons for those low incomes, it starts to make more sense:
      – manufacturing jobs offshored, reducing available jobs in the US, and putting downward wage pressure on all workers
      – attacks on minimum wage and other worker protections which further increase downward wage pressure
      – attacks on unions and other collective bargaining rights and strategies which undermine workers’ ability to act as a group to compel better working conditions and wages

      If 47% don’t have an income tax liability, that equates to a LOT of poverty and suggests that we’re creating a near-permanent economic underclass. That’s useful for corproate managers, who can then pick and choose labor at cheap rates without any requirement to treat their staff well, but it bodes ill for the workers themselves and certainly undermines consumer spending which is the backbone of the economy. Anyone who doesn’t care that Americans’ buying power is diminishing rapidly is not looking at the long term – or is heavily invested in up-and-coming economies like those in Asia, and can afford to disregard the American economy when it becomes too moribund to matter.

      And 13% being OK is obscene. The progressive tax system was set up to serve a variety of ends:
      – increase the tax burden as income increased so that poorer workers wouldn’t be saddled with taxation which broke their back while the rich paid so little that it didn’t matter – the idea was that you paid proportionally to your ability, weighted by the effect it had on your ability to function day to day.
      – prevent the creation of a hereditary aristocracy based on capital amassed.

      The conservatives have rolled both of these back and have managed to convince the economically disadvantaged that greed is an acceptable motive, and further seem to have somehow inculcated the idea that the 47% who don’t pay taxes are all dark-skinned welfare teat suckers…..which doesn’t work when the country is about 12% African American and about an equal percentage Hispanic. More whites than dark-skinned folks use government aid, but the conservatives have convinced the poor whites that shiftless you-know-whats are getting ALL OF THEIR BENEFITS.

      It’s despicable.

      But it’s GOP politics – facts don’t matter as long as they get into power.

    • Do you really believe that Romney paid 13% for any other year than the year (2010) that he has partially released?

      Why are we even assuming 13.9% is his legal tax rate? It may not be and here’s why.

      The 2010 return he released is missing pertinent information on his overseas accounts. He likely took advantage of amnesty on taxes owed on overseas accounts under the Obama administration in 2009. The reason that his returns are so messy is because he probably has not fulfilled all of the disclosure requirements under the amnesty program. My guess is there are things in his returns that he does not want the government to know about his overseas accounts. That bothers me.

    • Yeah, they don’t pay any income tax BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO POOR.

      The more money you make, the more you should pay. That’s the only way to be fair about it.

      Also, the up to 90% tax rate paid by the rich during the 1950’s didn’t make the country crash and burn, now did it?

      • Up to 90% tax rate? That makes for provocative conversation, but
        doesn’t measure up to fact. Your overall argument seems a little facile.

  • Wake me to discuss when Obama pays for his brothers and family members.

    Until then, go back to making entertaining TV shows.

    • Morgan, wake me to discuss Romney applying for a senior-level exec position in corporate America not campaigning to become the next POTUS. If he were applying for a position in corporate America, a company can decide what makes an applicant suitable/unsuitable (i.e. education, financial reports including tax returns, etc…) for employment.

      Until then, he should prove the doubters wrong and release his returns–just as Obama did when the Birther’s skewered him on the birth certificate–rather than saying “trust me”

    • You apparently live in total co-dependency! Paying taxes for his relatives is not our Presidents reponsibility.

  • Ignore the right-wingers’ b.s. arguments. They will never be convinced. They’re just trying to harry you.

  • A key issue is the amount of tax Romney paid in comparison to the amount he donated.

    He is totally comfortable paying the minimum amount of tax that he can legally and is intent on lowering that amount even more. He is content to donate generously to his church – a church that apparently is more a business than a charitable organization.

    Begs the question, where is his primary allegiance?

  • […] David Simon | Mitt Romney paid taxes at a rate of at least 13 percent. And he’s proud to say so. Mutt Romney Blues by The New Yorker on SoundCloud Mitt Romney and the Fundamental Unseriousness of Cutting Arts Funding Mitt Romney started the primary campaign by suggesting that federal arts funding should be cut in half . Now, in an interview with Fortune Magazine, he’s gone a step further , and has said that as president, he would entirely eliminate the subsidies for PBS, and for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. That shift in his position might be more devastating to the people who benefit from those subsidies, both as employees and as audiences for the work supported by them. Think Again: Obama's New Deal – By Michael Grunwald No <b>. […]

  • Mr. Romney is the major party candidate to express his faith in America – a country he claims to love and wants to lead – by moving his money out of the country. I find that a little hard to stomach.

    • A very, very small amount percentage-wise. Would your concern be just as great for someone owning a foreign-made car and running for president? Maybe not the best optics, but still, would you be just as indignant?

      • Spearhafoc,

        The difference between owning a foreign car and an overseas bank account is that there was an expectation that the wealthy would create jobs if we lowered taxes. That was the basis of Reagonomics, right? That prosperity for the rich would trickle down to the middle classes through job-creation and more price competition for consumer goods.

        Everyone knows that is not what happened.

        Instead taxes got lowered butjobs got shipped overseas. The loop holes got wider, and wages got lower, too. Prices for everything from food to gas to college to healthcare are astronomical.

        So what’s the deal? The trickle-down hustlers have been playing us for fools. Romney is the embodiment of that very fact. In everything he does and says, from his flip-flopping on Romneycare to his French vacation during Vietnam (Why would a governor’s son who had the privilege of evading the draft organize a counter-protest against it?). Romney has neither the content nor the character for the job.

        By the way, our Presidents should advocate for American cars and should drive them, too. Reagan advocated for American cars. “Buy American” is straight out of the 1980s. Remember this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCYfVo3Q2Es

        And furthermore, George Romney made his fortune as CEO of American Motors when little Mitt was growing up. How could Romney advocate bankruptcy for US cars?

        And yes, I would appreciate if my prospective President drove American cars. Just so you know, Barack Obama drove a Chrystler SUV before he traded it in for a Ford Hybrid. And I don’t mind Ann touting her “couple of Cadillacs” either.

      • As you said, not the best optics. Because there’s no worthy comparison. And yes, I’d go for a guy who paid taxes to the US to obtain his foreign car. Your car’s nationality, has nothing to do with yours and a car does not pledge allegiance to the USA and the principles for which it stands, nor can it swear to uphold the constitution, etc…

  • David–you did build that! The gov didn’t have anything to do with it! 😉 Keep up the great work!

    Spearhafoc–remember as a Mormon, Romney is required to tithe 10% (if he made $20M-$30M) he would have donated about ~$2M-$3M to “charity”.

    • Joey, do you not understand how bigoted that statement of yours is, especially putting quote marks around “charity”. It’s considered a charitable contribution. If you don’t like the classification, then say so, or if you don’t like charitable contributions being allowed as deductible, then say that, but he gave money to charity, and he didn’t have to. The charge was that he wasn’t doing anything for society. Guess what, he is.

      Here, put another way, suppose Barack Obama gave 10% of his AGI to the United Negro College Fund. What if he were criticized for doing that on the grounds that he was merely giving to a black charity because he was pressured into by other blacks, and that I put quote marks around the “charity” he gave to. Racist, right? At the least, highly bigoted, and it’s the same thing you’re implying.

      Just because you read that talking point on other blogs doesn’t mean you have to repeat it, Joey, because it’s not a good one.

    • “The gov didn’t have anything to do with it!”

      I know that’s true for me, but I do have access to a helicopter, loads of private airspace and dozens of personally financed heli-pads located throughout the country. Of course I have my own private supply of gasoline that I have shipped from my small patch of 30,000 acres of land in Alaska in my personal underground pipeline that required no government approval or over-site at all (because I’m rich, that’s why). Did I mention my stable of private teachers, security guards, firemen and engineers? Yeah, need those too to prevent the government from helping me at all. And lets not get into the driveway repair bills, do you have any idea how much it costs to slurry seal a 4-mile driveway? And a water supply, gotta have your own personal lake if you want to avoid government help. I employ 10 full time farmers to make sure we don’t get any food that the government has deemed edible, can’t trust those guys with that job can we?

      That’s just me though, I bet David did not spent his whole life in private schools, using only private roads, and 100% private infrastructure, didn’t once use a Federal or State law to his benefit his life or business, never needed the police or fire department to help him, or hasn’t in any way benefited from the freedom of speech and press in this country.

      How many more examples do you need of the government helping us to succeed (or at least preventing us from failure) to admit you don’t live in a tiny little bubble completely of your own design? Face it, without the American government (you know, those founding fathers people are so enamored with until you suggest they might have had something to do with individuals’ success) we wouldn’t have an America to be proud of.

      You’re right though, those annoying building safety codes that have helped prevent billions in property and personal damage over the years probably aren’t actually helping anyone to succeed, just preventing them from dying in a fire.

    • So you are saying that Romney is okay fulfilling his church obligations but not his civic ones properly?

      • Nailed it. That people think their charitable work allows them to supplant basic civic responsibility is a remarkable corruption, and an affront to the very essence of what charity is.

      • Why is it that when someone starts a sentence with “So you are saying….”, the next words are always a complete mis-characterization of what was just said? It’s a vulgar, cheap way of lying, especially when you add a question mark at the end so that you can say “hey, I was just asking the question”.

        No, I’m not saying that it’s ok to fulfill ones church obligations but not his civic ones.

        Romney was an unpaid President of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for three years.

        He took no salary and was the unpaid Governor of Massachusetts for four years.

        He gave his entire inheritance from his father to charity.

        And here, read about him closing down his business to help find a missing girl, the daughter of one of his employees.

        • We cannot construct a representative, republican society based on the expectation that some given number of our citizens will nobly engage in charitable activites that will offset the collective need for revenue to maintain and operate the society. Such is impractical.

          It is nice you think so highly of Mr. Romney’s charitable efforts. I do too.

          But there is absolutely no connection between those endeavors and his ethical obligations to share in the responsibilities of citizenship and to do so in a manner proportional to his generated wealth. That our tax code permits men such as Mr. Romney — and others who may be less charitable, or decidedly uncharitable — to do so is what we are debating here. Yet you keep bringing up philanthropy as if it somehow mitigates the fact that he has paid a lower proportion of his generated wealth to our government than millions of less fortunate Americans, some of whom, perhaps, may have even given more of their proportional income to charities as well.

          Uncouple these two things. They do not belong on the same train of thought.

        • “I’m not saying that it’s ok to fulfill ones church obligations but not his civic ones,” but you cite him “giving any his entire inheritance to charity” and taking no salary (=~%5 of his yearly skim) anyway?

          Funny how Rmoney’s personal finances are fair game when it suits his spin, but not when it reveals the truth about where he lived and what federal taxes he paid. (Also, note that “charity” in this context means BYU, a private institution with close to a billion dollar endownment.).

          As to his role in the Olympics, disbursement of massive amounts of federal tax dollars to enrich his local cronies (and himself) is a pretty weak exercise of “civic”duties.


  • The “republic” was built on stolen land by slave labor. One could make a cogent argument that there has NEVER been a true republic, so therefore, it can’t be over. It has always been illusion.

    Isn’t the real difference here that “leaders” are not even paying the used to be requisite lip service to ideals that we’ve never really practiced?

  • Mitt Romney seems to be under the impression that (a) being really good at gaming the tax system and (b) running a small investment firm made up of fairly homogeneous professionals who are good at exploiting loopholes together translate into being really good at leading a large, complex, diverse nation and economy.

    The head of your local audit or law firm would be equally qualified by that standard. We get a little too starry-eyed about private-equity people because they’ve gotten so rich in the last decade or two, thanks to a variety of factors, including the tax treatment of leverage and the large difference between ordinary income and capital gains tax treatment (and the fact that carried interest is treated as capital gains).

    Mitt Romney once said something to the effect that you wouldn’t want someone who paid more than he legally owed in taxes to be president. Actually, yes, I would. I’d love to see a candidate say, hey, I could have exploited these loopholes or been really aggressive with my tax planning, but I didn’t – I love this great country and think I’m incredibly lucky to have been born here, so I am happy to pay the top rate, which, after all, is only 35%.

  • […] at 9:32 on August 17, 2012 by Melissa McEwan Yesterday in comments, Shaker Anitanola linked to this David Simon piece about Mitt Romney’s 13% tax rate. I didn’t have a chance to read it until this morning, […]

  • Yes, he’s proud to say so, and he points out we’re small minded to care. He wants to run a government that does as little governing as possible, primarily for the benefit of those who already have the system rigged in their favor. But he’s happy to sell it as preserving every citizen’s (no, “citizen” implies a public interest, scratch that), every consumer’s precious freedoms. Freedom to hope you will be a beneficiary of the rigged system someday yourself. And if you don’t have any ready cash or credit to do any consuming, who cares about you anyway, you lazy parasites! Go rig your own system! Get into the drug game, maybe?

  • I’m not saying it’s his duty or obligation to send the government any more than that [his tax obligation].

    Oh. Well then. Are you saying anything at all then?

    Romney (as far as you know) paid The Taxes He Owed. You agree with me that he isn’t obligated to pay more than that, any more than you are. The content of your criticism is exactly what then Mr. Simon?

    I am saying that for a man who wants to be my president to stand there and proudly proclaim

    Where on earth do you get ‘proudly’.

    The only one who appears ‘proud’ to me is you, in boasting that you pay taxes at a rate ‘appropriate’ to your earnings (which you, in passing, thereby remind us of).

    Question: How did you figure out what rate was ‘appropriate’ Mr. Simon? Did you somehow figure it out on your own from first principles, or did you use the government table? I’m guessing table. Mitt Romney did the exact same thing, and he’s a ‘greedy’ villain for it. Did you pay More Than You Owed? I’m guessing not. Neither did Mitt Romney, but he’s a ‘greedy’ villain for it.

    This is a vacuous, unserious criticism, you’re evidently smart enough to know it, and you contradict yourself and gut your own criticism anyway when you acknowledge you don’t think Romney was obligated to pay More Than He Owed.

    There have got to be better reasons to dislike Mitt Romney.

    • It’s hard to type the same, inevitable response more than once, so let it suffice for me to paste a rejoiner I just threw up on the Wall Street Journal blogsite to similar arguments by some WSJ readers. I’ll only add that with regard to the citation of my own income, don’t you think it inevitable that if I didn’t address that directly, some ad-hominem-loving commentators would rush in to speculate on my own tax history in ridiculous ways? The only way to avoid someone else’s caricature of an effette, expense-accounted Hollywood hypocrite is, after all, to live in Baltimore and pay the taxes that you ought as a citizen of a republic. As to there being better reasons to dislike Mitt Romney, I will take your word for that. I encountered the one that I did yesterday and spoke to it.

      From the WSJ blogsite:

      On the contrary, gentle WSJ reader, I understand perfectly well our tax code’s venal dualities. My blog comments were intended, obviously enough, to highlight those inequities, such as they have led to a man who wants to president to stand in public and to defend a tax history that allowed him to contribute far less proportionately to the welfare of this republic than millions of other less fortunate citizens.

      I know that Mr. Romney paid his designed share of tax; I also know his share wasn’t a fair one. You fellas, on the other hand, seem grandly oblivious to what is so apparent and appalling to millions of your fellow countrymen: That if a man wants something as lofty as the presidency, it might benefit him to realize there is no dignity or honor in publicly professing pride at being part and parcel of a systemic and codified failure by our fmost affluent and entitled citizens to kick in their rightful share.

      No, the issue isn’t my understanding of the tax code, it’s your comprehension of republicanism and citizenship, A republic will stand or fall on the willingness of its elites to support and defend the commonweal along with everyone else. I know it will be an epic emotional journey for you gents, but if only for a digressive moment of intellectual curiosity, consider taking your heads out of the stock tables and dividend reports and scanning a few pages of Plato, and if you require a darker vision of our collective future, some Toynbee. Or, if the markets are about to open and you’re pressed for time, at least send one of the office staff — you know, one of those proles serving his country under a higher tax rate than you — to jog over to the Barnes & Noble and snatch up some Cliff Notes.

      The sad path of decadent societies is well marked, historically. This one especially so.

      • Again, I call foul on ‘pride’. Mitt Romney is being making these sorts of statements in response to repeated inquiries about his tax history, as you very well know. There’s no evidence of ‘pride’.

        The only one I see ‘professing pride’ about paying taxes, oddly, is you. Do you want a cookie for paying the ‘appropriate’ tax rate? Like, the one the government told you to, and could get you in legal trouble if you didn’t?

        Did you pay more taxes than the government tax table said you owed? If not why not? Greed, right? It must be greed.

        • Let me put it another way, given that you have gathered the sum total of your critique around the singular use of the word ‘pride.”

          It seemed to me that Mr. Romney stood there and publicly asserted for his 13-percent tax rate as if it represented a fair and appropriate contribution for a citizen of his means to this republic. He seemed to believe that he had justified himself as a citizen, and given that he is opposed politically to any initiative, that would raise his tax contribution so that it was commensurate with less fortunate Americans, he seemed to feel that this should end the discussion. He was, to my mind, proud that he had an answer of 13-percent to those critics who were clamoring for the release of his tax returns.

          You do not feel the word ‘pride’ is justified. I disagree. But for your sake, I will offer an alternative in saying that he made those comments shamelessly. Does shame work for you? I hope so. Because if you want to suggest that Mr. Romney didn’t feel pride in displaying his 13-percent tax rate before other, harder pressed Americans, perhaps you will concede that he was decidedly unashamed to do so. And he should be — and all of our elite, investor class should be — really, really ashamed.

          • I’m only picking on ‘pride’ because it’s all I see that remains of your critique, given that (a) you would seemingly like to say he’s greedy for paying (let’s say) 13% but (b) claim you’re not saying he was obligated to Pay More Than He Owed. WHICH WAS 13%. What was he supposed to do then to avoid your ire? Pay more or not pay more? You tell me if there’s an answer, but for now the answer appears to be neither: there is no mathematical way for him to have avoided your ire.

            “But for your sake, I will offer an alternative in saying that he made those comments shamelessly. Does shame work for you?”

            I, unlike you perhaps, can’t read Mitt Romney’s mind as to his mental state when making such statements. But again: why on earth should he, or anyone, feel ‘shame’ for having paid The Amount Of Taxes He Owed?

            Especially given that you apparently feel the opposite of ‘shame’ for having paid The Amount Of Taxes You Owed – you’re quite proud of it! You paid the ‘appropriate rate’, which apparently merits a special commendation of some sort.

            So if I take your critique to heart it seems to apply to yourself in spades. How to reconcile this?

            • It would be one thing if Mr. Romney went in front of the cameras and said, “Look, I only paid a 13-percent tax rate on a very large amount of income and I can see how, under our existing tax code, that probably isn’t equitable to other Americans who earn less and pay proportionally more. If elected, I will support tax reform initiatives that will remedy this disparity.”

              That would be a mensch. But he isn’t saying that, is he? He’s saying, I paid 13-percent and that’s just fine; that’s all that someone of my resources and wealth ought to render to the support and defense of this country. You other folks who earn your keep by salaried employment should just go on paying a larger share. That, my brother, is his precise political position.

              Again, shame is what he should be feeling.

              But we really need to end this. It’s going nowhere fast, and your tack is leading you across some a barren intellectual real estate. Specifically, your fulminant hyperbole — I now seek a “special commendation” for paying my taxes! — justifies no additional serious communication.

      • You are right about one thing, just staring at data all day will not tell someone that the Republic Will Fall if Romney only pays 13%. For such understanding of numerology one must, apparently, turn to Plato.

        What was that about rediculous, ad-hominem arguments?

        • My brother, you might try reading the prose of others with some sense of comedic proportion. Obviously, while the line about the American republic ending is a commentary on what is, indeed, at issue here, specifically the commitment of our citizenry to sharing the burden of sustaining the society, no one actually thinks that Mitt Romney’s tax liability is going to be the proverbial straw on any camel’s back.

          For the love of God, man. When someone writes that something is “the end of the world as we know it,” do you seriously believe that you are reading someone’s actual assessment of impending apocalypse? Go get a drink of something cool, breathe deep, calm yourself. Seriously. That’s just embarrassing.

    • Exactly right.

      This Simon post is an embarrassing and silly rant by a man who is a limousine lefty of the worst sort.

  • PS: To the commenter who brought up Solyndra.
    Solyndra was but one company in which the US govt invests as part of its overall R+D into alternative energy. The bankruptcy of one of the many companies that get govt help for R+D with the aim of freeing our dependence on (mainly middle eastern) oil is a natural consequence. Hey–if 99% of these companies went bankrupt, while one helped to deliver us from this evil dependence, I would be a very happy American indeed.

    • Yup. Furthermore, Solyndra isn’t major scandal. Citibank, BofA, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and other entites that SHOULD have failed but were saved by the Federal Government (or as Conservatives llike to say, the tax payer) are the real scandal. Failure is very important to capitalism, that it happend with Solyndra is good news.

  • David-
    Kudos. Agree with your points. What bothers me most here is not (necessarily) the (supposed) ca. 13% he may have paid (though, on which part of his earnings, I wonder…) What bothers me supremely here is that a man who keeps his money in foreign bank accounts (to avoid said taxes) believes he is a good candidate for president of the very country he is effectively stealing from. That your critics here don’t even bring that up is depressing.
    Legal or not, it’s just plain wrong. Very, very wrong.

    • Yes, an important point. Romney’s reported 13% would be based on whatever income he willingly repatriated and reported. Any income he or his favorite blind banker stashed off-shore would certainly NOT be part of that calculation.

  • David – You make great shows. I believe you to be a hypocrite on this though. There is no way that you authorize or direct your CPA (s) to pay as much as you can in taxes legally. In fact, everyone pretty much goes by the MO fo hiring tax professionals that can minimize there tax bills. To do otherwise would be idiotic.

    PS. No one in Mr. Romney’s tax bracket pays a 39% tax rate. A) it is a progressive tax and B the majority of indivuduals at this level of wealth receive most or all of their salary through investment income.

    • I pay the income tax at the rates appropriate for my income. I deduct my business expenses and pay tax on my actual net. If I have money in investments, I pay at the designated lower rate of tax for capital gains.

      But in common with, say, Warren Buffet, who is a mensch, I say in earnest that I do not believe that my capital gains should be taxed at a lesser rate than my income because this leads to such hideous and embarrassing inequities as a man who desires the presidency standing in public to assert that he has done his duty by paying proportionately less to support this republic than millions of other less fortunate countrymen.

      My income is currently such that I need to pay more taxes and I support every legislative initiative intent on such an outcome.

      That Mr. Romney has paid his required tax is not at issue; neither is the fact that his required tax is inequitable to millions of other Americans who are less fortunate, less entitled, and less ambitious to wield power. I have said so.

      That you can find hypocrisy in any of this strikes me as something of a desperate stretch. Sorry.

      • David,

        What I think escapes all these “he paid what the tax code said he should” commenters is the difference between legal and moral. Something that anyone who got through PHI 101 should understand.

  • The crazy thing is the Right’s almost universal push to lower or eliminate the capital gains tax when it’s that piece that makes Romney’s rate already so much lower than mine is at a salary of about $60k a year. The part I don’t get about that is — well look at the years for which Romney released his returns, the last couple years, when he was running for president, not engaging in that thrilling innovativie American spirit of entrpreneurism that’s so revered. You make a pile and you get what amounts to a sinecure forever after?

  • Solyndra. There’s a reason why the wealthy are apprehensive to pay more than legally obligated. Quit hiding behind the war red herring. You see it. We all do. What about the absolute rubbish that our government pays for with our tax dollars. Waste. Garbage. Research on the effects of cocaine on monkeys. Don’t set up the strawmen Simon. You’re better than that. Don’t be a hack. So, if we weren’t at war, Romney’s actions would be okay by you? Please.

    • Actually, I think at least one of those wars was rubbish. I disagree with a lot of government programming. But you clearly don’t understand the nature of representative government and the obligations of citizenship. I am not absolved of the responsibilities of citizenship because I don’t agree with some of the priorities imposed by the American collective. A republic can’t endure that degree of selfishness for very long, and this one is indeed vulnerable. Read your Plato, if not your Toynbee.

      This half-assed rationale that underlies the petulant greed of many Americans, who want to begrudge the government their tax check and wrap themselves in the mantle of resistance to whatever policy or program meets with their current disapproval, is simply dishonorable. I didn’t hunt for tax shelters or battle to lower capital gains tax rates in self-righteous opposition to George W. Bush’s belligerent foreign policy or Ronald Reagan’s union-busting. And I don’t give a damn about your whining about Social Security or food stamps or whatever displeases you. Our republican compact produces a compromise document called a federal budget and none of us will embrace everything contained therein, yet all of us, by dint of citizenship, ought to be writing a check that corresponds precisely to the wealth that we were personally able to generate for ourselves. That’s how it works, or in this case, doesn’t.

      I know that Mitt Romney paid his tax obligation and no more based on the entitlements offered to the investing classes — a policy that I disagree with fundamentally. I’m not saying it’s his duty or obligation to send the government any more than that. I am saying that for a man who wants to be my president to stand there and proudly proclaim that he hasn’t done as much to serve this republic as millions and millions of less fortunate Americans is simply embarrassing and ugly. And he should feel some shame for being the beneficiary of such an inequity, rather than righteously wrapping himself in the mantle of a 13 percent tax rate.

      Just as you might be ashamed for simplistically thinking you can opt out of your share of responsibility for the American collective by bitching and moaning about whatever it is displeases you in that collective. Citizenship does not — cannot — work that way.

  • Some of these comments sound so totally alien to me. Is it a widespread feeling in the US?This, ‘Why not? It’s legal.’

    I won’t get into this too much as I don’t know all the background, and since I’m from the UK perhaps it isn’t my place to judge, but I can’t imagine that ever being okay.

  • As a libertarian I feel very mixed feelings from this post. Yes, Romney is likely gaming the system to pay lower taxes, and that is wrong and he is dispicable for many reasons. But what about the fact that taxes are so high in the first place? Our government is using the money it gets to send it’s citizens off to die in unnecessary wars, and devaluing our currency at an alarming rate to the point where we citizens are going to have a hard time affording imports from other countries, all the while lying to us, and spying on us. US is not the land of free markets and free people that it used to be.
    I guess I just wonder if you think that the taxes we pay are fair. I think it’s admirable that you pay your taxes without looking for exceptions but it is being managed by some very irresponsible people, right? Do you question continuing to fund the ponzi scheme that is social security or the reckless spending?
    LOL, I kind of have a disability so sorry if this doesn’t make sense.

    • This is where libertarianism loses me entirely, in the whining unwillingness to accept the fundamentals of republican, representative government. I question a lot of things my government does. That’s an argument to be joined when policy and priorities are being made. To bring up my disappointments with some of what government does and ignore the necessity of the rest as an excuse for delaying or minimizing my tax check would be revealing not of some deep moral conviction on my part, but a selfish ignorance of what citizenship actually means.

      I could write it all out again, or I can just reprint what I replied to another gentleman who posted here, offering a similar plaint about where his tax money goes and why that hurts his feelings so much:

      I disagree with a lot of government programming. But you clearly don’t understand the nature of representative government and the obligations of citizenship. I am not absolved of the responsibilities of citizenship because I don’t agree with some of the priorities imposed by the American collective. A republic can’t endure that degree of selfishness for very long, and this one is indeed vulnerable. Read your Plato, if not your Toynbee.

      This half-assed rationale that underlies the petulant greed of many Americans, who want to begrudge the government their tax check and wrap themselves in the mantle of resistance to whatever policy or program meets with their current disapproval, is simply dishonorable. I didn’t hunt for tax shelters or battle to lower capital gains tax rates in self-righteous opposition to George W. Bush’s belligerent foreign policy or Ronald Reagan’s union-busting. And I don’t give a damn about your whining about Social Security or food stamps or whatever displeases you. Our republican compact produces a compromise document called a federal budget and none of us will embrace everything contained therein, yet all of us, by dint of citizenship, ought to be writing a check that corresponds precisely to the wealth that we were personally able to generate for ourselves. That’s how it works, or in this case, doesn’t.

      I know that Mitt Romney paid his tax obligation and no more based on the entitlements offered to the investing classes — entitlements with which I disagree fundamentally. I’m not saying it’s his duty or obligation to send the government any more than that. I am saying that for a man who wants to be my president to stand there and proudly proclaim that he hasn’t done as much to serve this republic as millions and millions of less fortunate Americans is simply embarrassing and ugly. And he should feel some shame for being the beneficiary of such an inequity, rather than righteously wrapping himself in the mantle of a 13 percent tax rate.

      Just as you might be ashamed for simplistically thinking you can opt out of your share of responsibility for the American collective by bitching and moaning about whatever it is displeases you in that collective. Citizenship does not — cannot — work that way.

      • Thanks for the reply!
        I just wonder if there aren’t bigger fish to fry, so to speak?
        Aren’t you esentially going after the little fish here, and in your work in the wire I thought you exposed that as a little counterproductive when Romney is a byproduct of a broken system.

        • This is the presumptive nominee of one of two major political parties for the presidency of the United States. He’ll have to do for the moment, sorry.

          • Ok, that is fair, if you expect to lead this country that you believe in then more is expected.
            On a separate issue, how do you feel about a normal citizen who goes to jail for not paying income taxes on the ground that it is unconstitutional? I know there are many that don’t pay out of greed but there are also those few that do have good intentions and want to make a stand against government overreaching. Honorable? or Not?

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