2012 Tuesday: The Romney tax return distraction

Mitt Romney’s tax returns are slowly leaking out, with full details to come later today. (UPDATE: The 2010 returns and 2011 estimates are available on Romney’s campaign website.) And as fully expected, progressives are in high sanctimony about his effective tax rate of 14 percent — as if they would have thought he’d fulfilled his patriotic duty by paying  25 percent, or 35 percent, or 50 percent, and still had well over $10 million they hadn’t gotten their claws on.

Lefties who always harken back to the Clinton-Gingrich-Lott years as a golden era of satisfactory, budget-balancing tax rates seem oblivious to the fact that the difference between what Romney paid under the current rates and what he would have paid under the rates that prevailed then is roughly $900,000. No, you’re not missing a decimal point: At a top income tax rate of 39.6 percent and a capital gains rate of 20 percent, Romney would have paid something like $900,000 more on his $21.7 million in 2010 income (capital gains of $20.8 million and other income of about $0.9 million).

If you actually believe an extra $900,000 in taxes paid would have spared Romney this political headache, I’m surprised you can actually read this blog post.

But that’s not all. Let’s say Romney’s capital gains not only had been taxed at the same top rate as regular income in 2010 (35 percent) but that he hadn’t been able to reduce his taxable income through charitable donations. In that case, Romney would have had something like $14.1 million left over after federal taxes (and a lot of charities would have failed to help a lot of people, but that’s another argument for another day). In reality, Romney donated $2.98 million to charity and paid $3 million in federal taxes, leaving him with $15.7 million.

Again, it’s foolish to believe the wealth-envy industry would have been satisfied with such a difference.

We could run any number of scenarios producing any number of hypothetical results (none of which would be truly accurate, because they all wrongly assume a differently structured tax code wouldn’t have affected Romney’s behavior). At the end of the day, it’s not really about that.

It’s not really about balancing the budget — not when the president and congressional Democrats make no secret of their desire to increase spending at least as fast as revenues might grow. Witness President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal, which assumed taxes would go up as he desired starting in 2013 — and yet, for the rest of his presidency, would not have cut the budget deficit even to 3 percent of gross domestic product. His budget deficits after raising taxes would have remained higher as a share of GDP than George W. Bush’s average budget deficit from the time he cut taxes until the housing bubble burst.

It is, however, about whose vision is best for the economy: Obama’s vision of a government that consumes a larger share of Americans’ production than this country has ever seen on a sustained basis, or the alternative of a government that returns to a rational size based on our historical experience and economic reality.

Because conservatives understand and acknowledge that tax rates affect individuals’ and businesses’ incentives and thus their behavior — the left understands this, but only acknowledges it when arguing for policies such as “green” taxes — we often get bogged down talking about the tax code. (Yes, my hand is raised here, too.)

But as Milton Friedman taught us, what really matters for the economy is the size of government spending. What the citizens don’t pay in taxes now, they pay in future taxes (debt) or price inflation. (Credit where credit’s due: Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who consistently makes this case.)

The left is not making an issue of Mitt Romney’s tax rates out of an interest in closing the budget deficit. As Reagan learned to his chagrin, agreeing to raise taxes in exchange for promises of spending cuts only leads to higher taxes and higher spending. It would happen again if Obama-Pelosi-Reid got their way and took a larger chunk from “the rich,” as their unserious proposals for “cutting” spending demonstrate.

It is purely the politics of envy and redistribution: See those rich people like Mitt Romney? If you elect us, we’ll take more from him and give it to you.

That’s what the Romney tax returns story is really about. Shame on those Republicans who go along with it for their own temporary political gain, and woe to Romney if he can’t use this occasion to make the case for keeping money in the private sector rather than siphoning it off for ever-larger government.

– By Kyle Wingfield

356 comments Add your comment

Jimmy62

January 24th, 2012
10:55 am

The only thing that will make them happy is if he changes his party to Democrat, or loses every penny he has.

JF McNamara

January 24th, 2012
11:11 am

Liberals and Progressives didn’t bring this up. Newt did. Even if Mitt paid my rate, he could still buy anything he wants and do anything he wants. Why is he special?

It’s more about fairness than anything else. I pay double the rate he pays, and given my wife’s new Lexus SUV, my kid has to go to *sigh* public school. I don’t mind paying taxes, and I don’t mind those less fortunate not paying taxes. I do, however, have a problem with someone who makes an order of magnitude than me paying a much, much lower rate.

It’s not fair now, and its never been fair no matter how you spin it.

Paul

January 24th, 2012
11:11 am

Under the Gingrich plan, with 0% capital gains tax, Romney would have paid ZERO. He paid what he was supposed to pay – a non-issue.

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
11:12 am

Jimmy62

January 24th, 2012
10:55 am
The only thing that will make them happy is if he changes his party to Democrat, or loses every penny he has.
——————————
Yep….What is the difference between John Kerry and Mitt Romney…!?!?

Kerry is a decorated Vietnam war veteran….Romney is a Mormon……
Kerry won his Senate race….Romney hasn’t worked in 6 years….
Romney started Romneycare….Kerry voted for Obamacare….

I guess that’s pretty much it……They probably pay the same in taxes….and they were both “for it before they were against it….”

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
11:20 am

BOTTOM LINE……Romney is not one of us….Gingrich is…..

Gary Johnson is one of us, too…..http://www.garyjohnson2012.com

jconservative

January 24th, 2012
11:22 am

I guess I have missed something, but so far the only people I have seen make a national issue of Romney and his money and his taxes is Gingrich and Perry.

If either are nominated they do not get my vote.

But that is not news. I do not vote for liberals for the White House and Gingrich is a liberal.
But so was George W, Clinton, George H W and Reagan. Maybe in 2016 we will have a conservative run for the Republican nomination.

And the best thing I can say about Perry is that he has weight and occupies space.

ByteMe

January 24th, 2012
11:32 am

BOTTOM LINE……Romney is not one of us….Gingrich is…..

From the looks of his waistline, Gingrich is several of us.

JF McNamara

January 24th, 2012
11:35 am

jcons,

You’ve been posting some grumpy comments lately. You must really hate all the Republican nominees.

Pizzaman

January 24th, 2012
11:35 am

Now I understand Kyle! Newt started this whole tax thing to draw attention FROM the President’s budget? I guess I really don’t understand.

getalife

January 24th, 2012
11:43 am

willard has a Swiss bank account and offshore fund to cheat on his taxes.

The newt is a lobbyist for freddie.

It is not distractions, it is the truth.

Own it Kyle.

Man up.

Edward

January 24th, 2012
11:44 am

How dare they tax the rich people at all. Tax those people making minimum wage more! They can skip a few meals each week to make up the difference. Do children really need school lunches? Forget road and infrastructure repairs, if you’re wealthy enough you can afford a nice car that just glides over those potholes.

Jon

January 24th, 2012
11:45 am

You make a big deal out of 900,000 not being a big deal, but that would be nearly a third more than he currently paid. If a whole lot of people paid a third more, then I’m pretty sure that would add up to quite a bit and we’d be a whole lot less in debt. Democrats might still not like Romney, but what does that have to do with anything. Even if you really don’t think Dems are interested in balancing the budget (which I think is a bit unfair), why wouldn’t you be? Cutting spending could be very healthy (although potentially problematic and complex too), but I’m convinced we can’t balance the budget without also getting real about taxes.

Junior Samples

January 24th, 2012
12:02 pm

Scavenger Hunt!
Did Kyle come up with a new catch phrase?
Obviously “wealth-envy industry” = main stream media.

10 imaginary points to whomever can find the original source.
Otherwise Kyle’s the winner!

Don't Tread

January 24th, 2012
12:10 pm

“it’s foolish to believe the wealth-envy industry would have been satisfied…”

Truth is, they won’t be satisfied until the government confiscates every penny you have and redistributes it as they see fit. (Of course, wealthy Democrats would be exempt from such a scheme.)

It’s all in “economic fairness”, you know.

Jefferson

January 24th, 2012
12:23 pm

You kids make it hard on yourself by worshipping money and power.

JohnnyReb

January 24th, 2012
12:24 pm

Conservatives – don’t be distracted by the Left who don’t understand that “percentage” is not a level playing field. A tax based on percentage is progressive just like their political idiology. They pay fifteen or twenty thousand in federal income tax, Romney pays millions, but he has not paid enough because they pay a higher percentage. Oh the horror. If they were making millions, they would want to keep more of it just like they want to keep more of the thousands they make now.

They, the Moonbats, scream if the rich were to pay more the deficit would go down. That could be true if the more paid was applied to the debt, but their champions will spend it, not apply it to the debt.

They, the Moonbats, don’t say a word about the 47% or better who pay zero federal income taxes (or in some cases actually get back more in a refund they they paid in all year). If those people paid, and their champions applied it to the debt, the deficit would go down also.

No Conservatives, don’t be led astray. The Left wants more of your money so they can spend it on growing government and giving more to those who have no drive to get ahead. Bless their little bleeding hearts.

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:25 pm

“willard has a Swiss bank account and offshore fund to cheat on his taxes.”

If you had a brain, you’d know that there is nothing illegal about having offshore accounts. Your messiah Obama and Owl Gore both have them.

Do us all a favor and go back over to your daddys blog.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 24th, 2012
12:27 pm

“If you actually believe an extra $900,000 in taxes paid would have spared Romney this political headache, I’m surprised you can actually read this blog post.”

Line of the day, Kyle!

Well done, sir. :lol:

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:28 pm

“But so was George W, Clinton, George H W and Reagan.”

So in other words, you’ve never voted for anyone. Right.

JohnnyReb

January 24th, 2012
12:29 pm

BTW, re, my 12:24. Progressives don’t want a “level playing field.” No, they want Social Justice which is everyone “equal.” In other words, those that have worked and have more must give some of it to those who have not worked so all will be “equal.”

For the record, JohnnyReb could give two hoots in hell if everyone is equal. I don’t read it in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. If you want more, work for it.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 24th, 2012
12:29 pm

“and given my wife’s new Lexus SUV, my kid has to go to *sigh* public school.”

Nice to see that you and your wife have your priorities straight, JF McNamara. :roll:

Hint: Maybe YOU and your wife should do without the new Lexus SUV for the sake of your kid’s education. . . .

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

From Jay Bookman

Buffett’s secretary at Obama’s State of the Union
12:16 pm January 24, 2012, by Jay

Based on this report from Politico, I think we have a pretty good idea where President Obama intends to go in his State of the Union speech this evening:

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s longtime secretary will be joining first lady Michelle Obama in her box at tonight’s State of the Union, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer announced on Twitter. Debbie Bosanek, who has worked for Buffett for nearly two decades, has become a symbol in the White House’s fight over the tax code and economic fairness.

A nice touch, I think.

You also have to question the wisdom of the Romney campaign in deciding to release his tax returns today, setting the scene very nicely for what Obama apparently wants to talk about tonight.

Ok, Bookman is a MASSIVE hypocrite for writing that. He totally ignores the fact that Buffett is a billionaire but attacks Romney for being rich.

He also ignores the fact that Buffett was a big winner in the oil pipeline debacle.

You libs are a bunch of IDIOTS.

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:33 pm

“For the record, JohnnyReb could give two hoots in hell if everyone is equal.”

No one is equal. There are ALWAYS people that are better than someone else. Libs/progressives are a bunch of little crybabies.

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:34 pm

More lovely news from the land of Obozo.

Under Obama, Price of Gas Has Jumped 83 Percent, Ground Beef 24 Percent, Bacon 22

Percenthttp://cnsnews.com/news/article/under-obama-price-gas-has-jumped-83-percent-ground-beef-24-percent-bacon-22-percent

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 24th, 2012
12:35 pm

“Romney hasn’t worked in 6 years….”

redneckbluedog, John Kerry hasn’t worked for almost 26 years.

He’s been a U.S. Senator. (and not a very good one at that)

Buckeyein Ga`

January 24th, 2012
12:35 pm

you’d know that there is nothing illegal about having offshore accounts.

yep it isn’t very illegal but it looks bad that he wants to lead the country but is stashing his money in another country.

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
12:36 pm

@Tiberius – Your lightning rod of hate!
January 24th, 2012
12:29 pm
Hint: Maybe YOU and your wife should do without the new Lexus SUV for the sake of your kid’s education. . . .
————————————–
Or you could just move to Massachussetts, Minnesota, or New Hampshire….BBBRRRRRR..!!!!

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
12:38 pm

@Tiberius – Your lightning rod of hate!
January 24th, 2012
12:35 pm
He’s been a U.S. Senator. (and not a very good one at that)
—————————————————————-
US Senator is a job……Paycheck, benefits, alarm clock, lunchbox…all that…..No comment, really, beyond that……I bet Kerry has a “Big Bang Theory” lunchbox…:-)…..or a “Star Trek” like Sheldon..:-)….

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:39 pm

“yep it isn’t very illegal but it looks bad that he wants to lead the country but is stashing his money in another country”

Clinton, Gore, Kerry……

JohnnyReb

January 24th, 2012
12:43 pm

Prediction – I am sincerely embarrassed that most of my adult life I was concentrated on work and personal matters that I paid very little attention to politics. I knew enough to vote Republican and that was about it.

Having retired from my first work life, settled down with the worlds greatest gal, and working for myself, I started paying more attention to politics. What I found was, our Country is in the toilet due to the Democrats/Progressives and “compromises” made by Republicans.

I don’t think I am unusaul. Instead, it appears millions like I have had the awaking due to Obama being elected, Fox News, and talk radio/TV like Rush, Glenn Beck, et al. The first evidence of the awaking was the outcome of the Nov 2010 mid-term elections.

My prediction is, the mid-term election trend will continue and Obama will go down in a landslide regardless of the Republican nominee.

My prediction will be ridiculed by Lefties supported by Legacy media in the tank for Obama because they too are Progressives. Don’t believe it.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 24th, 2012
12:44 pm

redneckbluedog, you said Romney hadn’t worked in 6 years, not hadn’t had a job. Just because one has a “job” doesn’t mean one “works. Hence, my comment regarding Kerry.

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
12:46 pm

JohnnyReb
January 24th, 2012
12:43 pm
——————————
You need to get out more…..I got out over the weekend and ran across some “occupy” folks….Not on purpose…..They were young, angry, pierced, and tattooed……They’re mad because they’re parents had jobs when they were young and now they can’t find any……It was kind of scary….definitely moving…..

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
12:47 pm

Tiberius – Your lightning rod of hate!
January 24th, 2012
12:44 pm
———————————–
If you have somewhere to be on a regular basis, that interferes with your “R & R”…..that is a job…..If you can “work when you want to”…then that is not…..

Somewhere over there

January 24th, 2012
12:48 pm

“They’re mad because they’re parents had jobs when they were young and now they can’t find any……It was kind of scary….definitely moving…..”

The one’s I met wanted people to give them money for free. Most of them have no idea who they’re mad at other than “the man.” If they had half a brain they’d know that Obama’s policies have scared businesses from hiring.

FACT: 28% of college grads have moved back in with their folks.

Hillbilly D

January 24th, 2012
1:05 pm

If all forms of income were taxed at the same rate, this would all go away.

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
1:08 pm

@Somewhere over there
January 24th, 2012
12:48 pm
———————————-
They were mad about all kinds of stuff…….Not being able to find a job…..Having to live at home….GMO’s (whatever that is)….BPA (DITTO)…..all those piercings and tattoos isn’t going to make it any easier for them to find jobs…..

JohnnyReb

January 24th, 2012
1:10 pm

redneckbluedog – roger on needing to get out more. I do have compassion for sincere folks who can’t find a job. But where did the “give me” attitude come from? Certainly some of it from liberal educators, but I can’t help but believe many parents are reaping what they sewed.

redneckbluedog

January 24th, 2012
1:21 pm

@JohnnyReb
January 24th, 2012
1:10 pm
——————————-
YEP…..Don’t like the “give me” attitude….Also don’t care for the “make money by ripping people off” attitude, either…..I could single out some businesses, but not going there….

Somali Republican

January 24th, 2012
1:25 pm

So many bootlickrs in here

@@

January 24th, 2012
1:26 pm

What the citizens don’t pay in taxes now, they pay in future taxes (debt) or price inflation.

Don’t I KNOW IT!!??!! Inflation has already hit regardless of what we’re being told. Is Bernanke feelin’ my pain?

schnirt

Romney donated $2.98 million to charity and paid $3 million in federal taxes…

Whooaaa! Doing better than me on both counts.

I wonder what percentage of Romney’s entitlements $3 million went to pay for the dems’ “entitled”?

@@

January 24th, 2012
1:28 pm

Oops! Put than second $3 million in parenthesis.

UGA 1999

January 24th, 2012
1:31 pm

He is Rich – So what?
He paid all the taxes he was supposed to – So What?
He contributed to charities and donations – So What?

What is the big deal?

UGA 1999

January 24th, 2012
1:31 pm

@@…..pot meet kettle!

UGA 1999

January 24th, 2012
1:36 pm

kok….”The Great One”? Has Ronald Reagan come back? WOW great news!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

January 24th, 2012
1:38 pm

Greedy, envious Obozo receptacles care about Romney’s tax returns. No one else. It’s like reading People magazine to these losers.

UGA 1999

January 24th, 2012
1:39 pm

Kok….are you Gm? Learn an language other than ebonics so that we can understand you! HA!

Sarah Coulter

January 24th, 2012
1:41 pm

“Instead, it appears millions like I have had the awaking due to Obama being elected…”

Ah yes, that speaks volumes, JohnnyReb.

Sarah Coulter

January 24th, 2012
1:45 pm

“More lovely news from the land of [word deleted due to lack of necessity and stupidity].

Under Obama, Price of Gas Has Jumped 83 Percent, Ground Beef 24 Percent, Bacon 22…”

So let me get this straight (or gay). If gay goes up, won’t food go up? Unless all grocery stores have a farm and slaughterhouse in their backyard.

Gas (a requirement) to transport food to the stores. Contards…

clyde

January 24th, 2012
1:46 pm

Let’s suppose that I had made the money Romney made and let’s suppose I paid the same tax.Does anyone out there really think I would still be working?????

I wouldn’t be stupid enough to be running for President either.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

January 24th, 2012
1:49 pm

It’s not all about money with Mitt Romney. As pointed out by Boortz yesterday, the guy has a set of morals Americans should all be proud of. Read this:

http://www.boortz.com/weblogs/nealz-nuze/2012/jan/23/know-your-candidates/

Think Gingrich would do that in the same circumstance? I don’t.