Do You Pay More Taxes Than Mitt Romney Does?

BlogHer Original Post

At the risk of turning you off completely, I’m going to talk about a subject we all loathe: taxes. Specifically, I’m going to talk about Mitt Romney’s obstinate refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns and why it’s a button with me.

Just now as I was writing this, I decided to Google “Romney and tax returns” and lo and behold. Now I’m even madder.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

In excerpts released by ABC News, Romney was unable to say whether he had ever paid less than the 13.9% tax rate he paid in 2010. “I haven’t calculated that. I’m happy to go back and look, but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law,” Romney told ABC’s David Muir.

Romney’s 13.9% rate falls far below rates typically applied to those with incomes approaching the $20.1 million he made in 2010.

“I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes, and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall,” he later added.

Let’s look at that word “substantial.” First off, I hardly think a tax rate of less than 14 percent applies. Fifty percent, maybe. Second, what’s with him saying, “so far as I can recall”? Romney has based his entire candidacy on the premise that he was a genius in business while running Bain Capital. Yet he doesn’t even remember if he ever paid less than a 14 percent tax rate?

I prefer to say it won’t wash.

I suppose Romney thought by going to London and acting all presidential and Olympian he could deflect attention from the exploding controversy over his taxes. But he couldn’t even get that right. Romney alienated the entire British population with his insensitive remarks about Brits’ readiness and even their enthusiasm for the Olympics. (This is why I think Mitt should do more interviews. He’s spectacularly bad at them.) It would be like me being invited over to one of Mitt and Ann’s homes for dinner and bringing a case of Budweiser or a bottle of vodka. It just isn’t done. At least he didn’t cause a nuclear incident in Israel.

But let me go back to why I’m so irate about Romney’s failure to release his tax returns.

A year ago, one my older brothers invited me to a dinner party with some of his rich Republican friends and golfing buddies. This happened to coincide with last year’s BlogHer conference in San Diego. The couple who were hosting the party lived in a luxury high-rise condo just a couple of blocks from the Marriott. “Come on, it’ll be fun!” my brother said on the phone when I hesitated. Oh, why not? I thought.

When I got there, I had to give my name to a doorman to be admitted upstairs. First off, let me just say that no one has a doorman in San Diego. I grew up there, and it’s about as common as snowboarding at La Jolla Shores, or as people with custom-built four-car garages with elevators.

My brother’s friend—I’ll call him George—whose condo it was greeted me warmly at the door. “We’ve heard so much about you!” he said, hugging me. There were four couples, including my brother and his wife. And me. They were all very gracious, although two of the 60-something men had trophy wives and one of the men had been in prison for running a gambling scam in Vegas. Which just goes to show you that Republicans are not as boring as you think.

We sat down to dinner at a long elegantly set table. Expensive wine was poured. My brother is somewhat of a practical joker and instigator. So knowing my liberal politics, he directed me to a chair next to biggest conservative in the group--I’ll call him Dick. He’d also briefed his friends in advance about his little sister’s politics.

In addition to having an MBA from Stanford--a credential he loudly emphasized at least a dozen times as the night wore on--Dick had also run the Republican party in Vermont. We had barely lifted our salad forks when he launched into a diatribe about Obama. Obama was a socialist. Obama hated the banks. The stimulus was a failure. That was irritating enough, but then he started complaining about Obama wanting to let the Bush tax cuts expire for millionaires, and something in me snapped.

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