The full article in Look magazine – based on a forthcoming biography – had some fascinating details. And the tax returns were forthcoming:
"He balked when I badgered him for a copy of his latest Form 1040, the Federal Individual Income Tax Return," Harris wrote. "Release of the document, while it might serve a political purpose, would not prove very much, [George Romney] argued. One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul. Stumped by this argument, I was not prepared for the move that it eventually led him to make: He ordered up all the Form 1040's that he and Mrs. Rome had filed over the past twelve years — including those profitable ones from when he saved the American Motors Company from bankruptcy and became a millionaire on the company's stock options.""
That's called a politician with nothing to fear. And indeed the tax returns showed enormous generosity – George Romney paid around a quarter of his income on charity (mainly the LDS Church) and one year, gave away all his earnings save $390. His tax rate? Around 50 percent. Obama's proposal to raise the top rate to 39 percent – the same level as during the Clinton boom – is now described by George's son as un-American.
In many ways, George Romney shows what capitalism can achieve; and Mitt Romney reveals how degenerate so much of it has become.