13.9 Percent Reax

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 24 2012 @ 11:16am

Dreher asks why capital gains taxes are so low:

What, exactly, is conservative about a tax system stacked so that the ultrarich make massive profits from it, while working men and women pay a much higher rate on their income? Is the essence of conservatism protecting the privileges of the few at the expense of the many? If so, we lose. We are not egalitarians, and justice doesn’t require economic leveling. But soaking the rich isn’t what we’re talking about here; we’re talking about making them pay the same rate of tax as most ordinary people. You’re not supposed to talk about this on the Right, but why not? Why is this a question only liberals and Democrats are allowed to ask?

How Paul Krugman frames the debate:

the point here is not that Romney did something wrong by paying the low rates current tax law lavishes on people like him. It is, instead, that in an election campaign that will be in part about issues of inequality, the likely GOP candidate is a living, breathing, coupon-clipping example of how favorable our system is to the very rich; and he also happens to be advocating policies that would greatly benefit people like him, while hurting the poor and the middle class.

Ed Morrissey counters:

[Obama] has talked at times of raising the cap-gains rate from 15% to 20%, but that will still put cap-gains at “a lower rate than average Americans who are struggling to get by.” Obama’s so-called “millionaire’s tax” surcharge wouldn’t have applied to Romney either, because that was a surcharge on income, not capital gains.  If Obama wanted to have that debate with Romney, he’d shortly be exposed as either a hypocrite or an idiot.

Zack Ford points out that Romney "gives back more to the Mormons than he pays to the federal government":

Since 2010, the Romneys have given $7 million to charity, but over $4 million of that went directly to the Mormon Church, while they paid only $3 million to the IRS last year.

Ann Althouse defends Romney's donations to his church:

So he gave more money to his church than to the federal government. Is "gave" the right verb for both of those payments? Perhaps it's not the right verb for either. Tithing is compulsory in the church, is it not? In both cases, he's relinquishing was is due under a requirement.

Glenn Reynolds tries to change the subject:

Compare Romney to Bill Clinton. Clinton made his money by cashing in on his office. Romney made his money before running. Who’s more likely to be honest?

Reid Wilson suspects that Romney's overseas accounts will draw fire:

Romney's tax forms show he had a bank account in Switzerland, which he closed in 2010, and accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. All three have reputations as offshore havens where the extremely wealthy keep their cash, sometimes to avoid paying taxes (Romney actually did pay taxes on those accounts, but that minor detail may be left out of any attack ads).

Richard W. Rahn claims that the Caymen Islands attracts funds because of its regulatory environment, not for tax reasons:

Cayman has a sophisticated and cheaper-to-comply-with regulatory structure than the U.S for hedge funds. Cayman laws are better suited to hedge-fund oversight than U.S. retail-oriented regulation.” As a result, Cayman registers a very large percentage of the world’s hedge funds. Under the Cayman regulatory system, Ponzi scams like Bernard L. Madoff’s and the commingling of clients’ money with the firm’s money, as in Jon Corzine’s company, would be very difficult, if not impossible. Arguably, the Cayman regulatory system gives far better investor protection than the Securities and Exchange Commission or Commodity Futures Trading Commission at a fraction of the cost and bureaucracy.

Alex Seitz-Wald rounds ups facts about Romney's tax returns. Among them:

Romney makes more in a day than the average American makes in a year, and becomes a 1 percenter every week: As Bloomberg News notes, “In 2008, according to the IRS, the median adjusted gross income was $33,048, whichRomney made in less than a day. Reaching the top 1 percent of taxpayers required $380,354 in adjusted gross income, about Romney’s earnings in a week.”

John Hood provides spin for the Romney campaign:

A competent campaign, and candidate, would explain that Romney’s real federal tax rate on his investment income was more than 40 percent (being conservative, after deductions and such), since the revenue stream was subject to both a personal tax rate and the corporate tax rate. A competent campaign would then point out that state taxes would bring the effective income tax rate on Romney’s investment income to 50 percent or higher. Every time a reporter or opposing candidate tried to say Romney’s tax rate was 15 percent, a competent campaign would call them out for misleading the American people.

Josh Marshall says Romney's initial refusal to release his returns has made them a much bigger story:

For a man running for president in 2012 it’s damaging stuff. But now everything in these documents comes with a preface that reads “We really wanted to keep this secret. But that didn’t work out.”

And Buzzfeed Politics thinks the tax returns are helping Gingrich run out the clock:

The real problem for Romney is simply time. He needs to turn the momentum in Florida by retaking control of the conversation, and by focusing — this, at least, is the plan — on Newt Gingrich's flaws. And with just a week before the primary, he's running out of time.