Okay, Mitt Romney finally releases his tax returns, after some real determined resistance, and also, to give him a little cover from his kind of impolitic observation in May, that about half of Americans are entitlement-minded takers, and not big-time, generous givers, like Mitt Romney.
There is much to learn from this document.
First of all, what I learned is exactly what I predicted – most of Romney’s charity bucks went straight to the Mormon church, exactly 2.6 MILLION dollars, CASH. You know, after the big Mormon-financed push to influence the outcome of California’s Prop 8 (marriage equality, for those whose memories are short), I kind of lost interest in giving Mormons money,. and for that matter, not taxing the shit out of them too. If you want to be a political player, you should pay to be a political player.
BUT ANYWAY, 2.6 MILLION dollars? CASH? To a church that it just so happens you are very very entwined with? Isn’t that kind of like making a donation to yourself? Seems that way to me.
And then there is Mitt’s return itself, all 800 pages of it, with loopholes and easy-outs, and offshore accounts, and let’s not forget the deduction for Ann Romney’s HORSE, which came to more than the average wage-earner brings home in a year. The DEDUCTION for the horse! Not feeding the horse, housing the horse, getting the horse’s leg fixed by the vet, not all the horsey stuff she apparently needs to purchase – but the TAX DEDUCTION for the horse. SEVENTY GRAND’S worth of deduction! Aiieeeee!
Then there’s the comparative wealth factor. Mitt paid more taxes than Obama because HE BRINGS HOME A CRAP TON OF MONEY. And, since all that discretionary income comes from the aforementioned loopholes, easy-outs, and offshore accounts, HE PAYS A LOWER TAX RATE than a person who makes money from, oh, say, HAVING AN ACTUAL JOB! Gosh, who do you suppose cooked up that portion of our all-American tax code? Could it have been some of Romney’s good buddies in the exclusive extremely-rich-people’s club? I am thinking – who else would care enough to manipulate the American legislative system to accommodate something like this? If you want to bitch about our complicated tax system, where rich guys can say “Oh, it’s all completely legal!”, let’s start with the people who enrich themselves big-time by complicating it in the first place! They have the money! They have the power! And they have a reason! Don’t blame some schoolteacher or beat cop for the bankrupting of America – place the blame where it belongs. And since ol’ Mitt has decided to go high-profile on us, let’s let HIM be the face of super-duper-wealthy America and let HIM explain all this away.
And the final irony? Mitt paid over twice as much in TAXES as Obama received in straight-up INCOME! And, just for the record, where does all that Obama money come from? Over the last several years, from books sales. He’s written a couple of best-selling books, and as the book sales go down, so goes the income. So he makes less every year. I may not understand what the hell Mitt’s blind trust does, but I get the whole book thing – it’s actual work Obama performed by writing a bunch of stuff all out, and then was recompensed for because people were apparently interested enough in what he had to say to buy the books. That I can understand.
Mitt’s 800-page tax document, I do not understand. Blind trust – didn’t get that either, so I looked it up. Basically, a blind trust is a wad of dough you hand over to some guys called “fiduciaries”, who handle the money, invest it, throw it around, bathe in it, whatever. The fiduciary is supposed to keep knowledge of his activities in the trust a big fat secret from the investor (wink, wink). So, let’s imagine Romney owns tons of stock in Monsanto, which runs into a little corporate trouble by killing off a couple thousand farm workers with a bad batch of bug spray. This won’t reflect poorly on Mitt politically for being an uncaring asshole, because (wink wink) “he knows nothing about the activities of the fiduciary because it is a (wink, wink) BLIND TRUST!” See how that works? Clever! Only rich guys would have thought THAT one up. Only rich guys would NEED to think it up. The fact remains, of course, that blind trust or not, a) the money is STILL ALL MITT’S, and b) he can take it out and blow it however he wants, whenever he wants, if he is willing to weather the political backlash. Clever times two! Wow!
And here’s the last thing I learned from Mitt’s tax release – SOME PEOPLE ARE SOOOOO WEALTHY THEY CAN MANIPULATE THEIR OWN TAXES! Most of us are so busy ducking and diving to lower our tax brackets by some miniscule amount per year, we don’t really think about the fabulous benefits this can have. For example, Mittens could have paid way less taxes if he had actually used all the deductions “legally” available to him. But, since he is on fire to become the POTUS, he actually used only some the deductions available to him so he could say he paid at 13% instead of an even lower rate. Says Brad Malt, the fiduciary-trustee-guy-who-runs the blind-trust-without-telling-Mitt (wink, wink), the Romneys “limited their deductions of charitable contributions to conform to the governor’s statement in August, based on the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.” (Just as an aside, if Romney worked for a WAGE the rate would have been 35%, but since he gets most of his dough in dividends and capital gains, the rate is only 15%. ACK!!!)
That is pure, straight-up manipulation. Must have been a rough decision for the Romneys, the money or the Presidency. Kind of like “Sophie’s Choice” with thousand-dollar bills instead of kids, and in the wealthy people’s paradise of 2000’s America instead of Germany in the 1940’s.
All the above tells me something terribly important. That important thing is, don’t EVER think a guy as rich as Romney will tell you the truth. Obfuscate, evade, deny, complicate – well, sure, you betcha! You get what you vote for. It would be great if we could overcome the horrific partisanship, the deadly hatred for Obama the conservatives have nurtured in their followers, the venomous blame-game in Washington, and the plain flat racism that exists in our supposedly post-racial America during this election cycle. That’s not gonna happen, so let’s just accept what Mitt shows us about himself with this whole tax-return explosion and go with that. It is plenty enough to make a decently informed decision.