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Who is Fighting for the Middle Class?
August 3, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Want to see how much more you'd pay if Mitt Romney becomes President? The Tax Policy Center has published a report (pdf) saying that Romney's proposed tax plan would result in lighter taxes for the rich -- and a heavier tax burden for middle class taxpayers. The Obama campaign has been quick to provide the on-line app which is the first link above, for voters to calculate the difference for themselves. They've also released an ad, vetted as quite accurate, on the issue.
posted by bearwife (221 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
My tax savings under Obama would be about $1600, vs. a $400 increase under Romney.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:11 PM on August 3, 2012


So when I inevitably become a millionaire, I'd do better under Romney? That's all I need to know.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:12 PM on August 3, 2012 [37 favorites]


Says all of my relatives.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:12 PM on August 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow, great link. Now I know if that $300,000 raise I was hoping for comes through I finally have a reason to vote for Romney!
posted by MoonOrb at 2:14 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is that a demon on the kid's shirt at 0:08 of the ad? Or is his whole torso a demon head of some kind? It seems like it might be floating just in front of where a normal human torso would stop. Is this part of Obama's plan to alleviate my tax burden? Do I have to get a demon torso? Not gonna lie, I would kind of like a demon torso. If that's the trade-off, it seems pretty good. On the other hand, I want to make sure even the poor have access to demon head torsos. Lot of politicians promise them, but not many can keep those promises. I'd be interested in seeing Media Matters or someone evaluate these promises of making our kids' torsos into azure demon heads with glowing yellow eyes.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:14 PM on August 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Here is an ad concept for the Obama campaign, no charge

"Hi America! It's time to choose a president. President Obama wants to lower everyone's taxes, except for the extremely wealthy. Mitt Romney wants to raise taxes on 95% of people so he can cut taxes for the extremely wealthy.

...

Apparently we still have some airtime left, so here are some pictures of kittens. Everyone loves kittens!"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:15 PM on August 3, 2012 [87 favorites]


I find myself wondering if the Romney folks have released a similar tool, something that perhaps doesn't reflect the same numbers, or issued a statement about this. Anyone know?
posted by davejay at 2:16 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Headline from the Post: "A tough new Obama ad that -- surprise! -- is accurate ".

Petty Glenn Kessler is petty.
posted by maudlin at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


i wish it were so simple, East M.

i can hear my mother disagreeing with your statement in my head right now...
posted by sio42 at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2012


I'll do far better with Romney, but I still wouldn't vote for either of these two.
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to question the accuracy of that first calculator. Punch in 197,499, and you see that you'll pay 1,339 in increase under Romney. Punch in 197,500 and you suddenly get a 4,016 decrease? The tax code has never worked like that.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:19 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Huh. If accurate, my 2013 taxes under Romney will end up costing me an extra amount roughly equal to the amount I spent (post-insurance) on my surgery this year, and my 2013 taxes under Obama will end up saving me roughly between 2 and 3 times that amount.

I tend to vote on issues other than taxes (I don't mind paying what it is fair and reasonable for me to pay), but I do find it interesting that my vote this time around aligns with money savings for me.
posted by davejay at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2012


I'd get a $641 tax increase under Romney.

It's a good thing that, as he says, government workers are overpaid! And if you can't trust Romney to know who's overpaid, who can you trust?
posted by Jeanne at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2012


Jenna Jameson supports Mitt Romney. "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office."
Something about her honesty is so arousing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, I wonder if Jameson is endorsing Romney because it hurts him. The "when you're rich" line would seem to give it away. Or, maybe I'm giving her too much credit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:23 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure you're giving her too much credit.
posted by incessant at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't vote for Obama at this point, but I'd like to see a comparison of Romney's proposal versus actual current tax policy under Obama, since I don't think there's any chance of Obama's proposed tax plan being enacted.
posted by The World Famous at 2:26 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jeez, my taxes would increase by over $1,000 under Romney so I can help out the rich. FUCK that.
posted by naju at 2:26 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


The World Famous: "I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't vote for Obama at this point, but I'd like to see a comparison of Romney's proposal versus actual current tax policy under Obama, since I don't think there's any chance of Obama's proposed tax plan being enacted."

Hard to do until we figure out what they're doing with the Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:30 PM on August 3, 2012


If they get rid of the home mortgage deduction, we'll see another housing crash along with more people just walking away from their loans and moving into apartments.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:32 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


President Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class

Are these W's tax cuts O's planning to extend? Oh yes they are.

The irony of it all.
posted by chavenet at 2:35 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


As for Jenna Jameson, well, she knows all about fucking people over.
posted by chavenet at 2:38 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The calculator is suspect. Apparently it's giving average increases/cuts for each range of incomes that you're in, but even there it's off, in that it treats $197,500 as being in the range $200,000-$499999. It also seems to use a different method to calculate the Obama and Romney plans, with more details on the Obama side-- understandable, but the way it's presented obscures this, so it ends up seeming misleading.

Send it back to the drawing board.
posted by alexei at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to question the accuracy of that first calculator. Punch in 197,499, and you see that you'll pay 1,339 in increase under Romney. Punch in 197,500 and you suddenly get a 4,016 decrease? The tax code has never worked like that.

Totally true -- the calculator uses lazy "under 100k" "100k to 200k" buckets, which is seriously misleading and inaccurate. The Obama campaign has a really strong case to make about this but the calculator is bullshit and makes them look slipshod.
posted by chimaera at 2:40 PM on August 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am just so glad to see the anti-tax rhetoric is at full blast this election season. When everyone in the federal government's on the same page in opposing taxes, or at least recognizes the political impossibility of raises them, we--the taxpayers--can't lose. Would to God it were like this every year.
posted by resurrexit at 2:41 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like taxes. They pay for parks.
posted by bigbigdog at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2012 [37 favorites]


And firemen.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


And government.
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:44 PM on August 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


If they get rid of the home mortgage deduction, we'll see another housing crash along with more people just walking away from their loans and moving into apartments.

I wouldn't be surprised if that was the whole point. Then only the wealthy will be able to afford to own property and everyone else will be stuck renting. Maybe then we can revert back to only landowners voting. Fun for the whole family! (fun may not apply if your family is not already rich)
posted by Arbac at 2:44 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reid Quadruples and Quintuples Down on Romney Tax Return Comments: "As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands."
posted by mek at 2:45 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


And government.
Thankfully.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:48 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


The calculator reflects the nonpartisan report.

The report reflects all of the information available about Romney's tax proposals. It acknowledges that the actual tax system would be implemented differently than a binary $200,000 divide, but there's no information provided by Romney's campaign as to how it would work. As presented, it is significantly less regressive than any actual policy following the guidelines of the Romney proposal.
posted by theclaw at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Could someone identify the specific tables in the .pdf and associate them with specific tax proposals? My brain does not seem to be working well enough today to do that for its owner.
posted by Danf at 2:50 PM on August 3, 2012


As Krugman explains, the TPC report makes a lot of assumptions which are probably untrue but are extremely generous towards Romney, and despite all of those assumptions, it still paints an incredibly bleak picture. Actual policy proposals from the Romney camp are worse than this; "TPC actually bent over backwards to literally give Romney every possible benefit of the doubt."
posted by mek at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


Totally true -- the calculator uses lazy "under 100k" "100k to 200k" buckets, which is seriously misleading and inaccurate. The Obama campaign has a really strong case to make about this but the calculator is bullshit and makes them look slipshod.

It is indeed inaccurate, but there's no way that Republicans are going to call Obama on that fact, because they rely on the public's misunderstanding of the tax bracket system as a tool to make the tax system seem more arcane and unfair than it actually is. If Romney released an ad attacking this calculator by explaining how tax brackets work, there's a chance that someone, somewhere might think that they're being taxed appropriately in a system that makes sense, and that's just not a risk the Republican Party is willing to take.
posted by Copronymus at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Headline from the Post: "A tough new Obama ad that -- surprise! -- is accurate ".

Petty Glenn Kessler is petty.


Dude is so annoying. He claimed it was OK that Romney signed off as CEO on the Bain forms even though he wasn't acting as such.

I asked my dad if that was OK and he said "you can't do that." My dad was a senior SEC enforcement official and then a Fortune 250 corporate secretary and knew those forms like the back of his hand, having reviewed and later filed them for 30 years. Kessler would have none of it, and insisted it was no biggie to me directly on twitter. Don't think so bro.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:58 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am just so glad to see the anti-tax rhetoric is at full blast this election season. When everyone in the federal government's on the same page in opposing taxes, or at least recognizes the political impossibility of raises them, we--the taxpayers--can't lose. Would to God it were like this every year.

Really, both parties are running on raising taxes. In fact this is the first time in a long time major parties are doing so. Obama is quite specific about letting the Bush cuts expire for the top two brackets.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:00 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


President Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class

Are these W's tax cuts O's planning to extend? Oh yes they are.

The irony of it all.


Uh, Obama ran on this in 2008.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:01 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


mek: "the TPC report makes a lot of assumptions which are probably untrue but are extremely generous towards Romney, and despite all of those assumptions, it still paints an incredibly bleak picture"

Yeah, Romney wants the advantages of vague policy proposals without the disadvantages. If his economic team has better projections, let's see 'em (and then point and laugh.)
posted by tonycpsu at 3:02 PM on August 3, 2012


The World Famous: "I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't vote for Obama at this point, but I'd like to see a comparison of Romney's proposal versus actual current tax policy under Obama, since I don't think there's any chance of Obama's proposed tax plan being enacted."

I think it is highly likely this time around, actually. Dems are sticking together on this. They saw the polling and decided it was worth it.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2012


On the bright side, if you make $20k or less it won't matter fuck all to your who wins. On the brighter side those people don't vote anyway.

You get who you pay for.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:04 PM on August 3, 2012


I'm curious, does the congress have to take action on the Bush tax cuts during Obama's term and if so does that pretty much allow him to expire them one way or another regardless of whether he wins?

So Obama wins, he has no incentive to renew the full Bush tax cuts. If he loses he has even less incentive.

Or is there enough time during next session that the Republicans can throw a hail mary pass to try to get the Senate to no fillibuster an extension?
posted by vuron at 3:05 PM on August 3, 2012


You know what would be awesome? If the new Republican party line became that the middle class needed to pay more taxes, in order to let the wealthy more easily innovate and create jobs. A tithe to the wealthy, for without them we are nothing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:07 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Romney camp's response to the TPC study is that it ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan. So basically, they expect the confidence fairy and voodoo economics will make up the difference.
posted by mek at 3:07 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


On the bright side, if you make $20k or less it won't matter fuck all to your who wins. On the brighter side those people don't vote anyway.

If by "don't vote" you mean "prevented from voting by laws discouraging students and the poor from voting, such as non-student residency requirements, voter ID laws which simultaneously close offices which can provide voter IDs, restrictions on early and absentee voting even though voting day is a freaking work day for the majority the minimum wage population, and restrictions on voter registration drives?" Then yes, you're right. Poor folk don't vote.
posted by muddgirl at 3:07 PM on August 3, 2012 [28 favorites]


Oh hey - I'm a voter who makes less than $20,000 a year and I payed a higher proportion of my income in taxes to the federal government, state government, city government, and school board than Mitt Romney has probably ever paid. It was awesome, waving one and a third months of salary goodbye. I'm going to use the fuck out of services provided by the government this year - and Mitt Romney better not take any of them away if he wins.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:08 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ha I tried putting in my exact yearly salary (with cents) and was like 'wait what Romney would save me $245 THOUSAND dollars I don't even make nearly that much' and then I realized the thing doesn't accept decimals and I'd accidentally said I make $4 million.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


So Obama wins, he has no incentive to renew the full Bush tax cuts.

...other than not screwing over the next Dem candidate.
posted by goethean at 3:09 PM on August 3, 2012


(I guess to reap the benefits of middle-class tax cuts, you have to count as middle-class)
posted by ChuraChura at 3:09 PM on August 3, 2012


"So what if I pay less taxes under Obama...I can't vote for a man who wants to PUNISH SUCCESS."

Many people in America actually think like this.
posted by jnnla at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah I don't know that any reasonable voter is going to be willing to absorb a short term tax increase on the off chance that might result in higher income through trickle down economics.

But Republicans have been doing a great job at getting people to vote against their own self-interest by distracting them with a ton of social issues for decades so no reason to think that people will it won't keep working.
posted by vuron at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2012


It's a community weblog, and a fair number of members of the community would like to discuss this issue. Linking to the actual ad (or rather, an article that includes the ad in an embed) as a supporting link certainly seems kosher.

It's an issue wholly invented by the Obama campaign. It's like making an entire FPP out of Obama's "you didn't build that" soundbyte, which was an issue wholly invented by the Romney campaign. There's no substance to discuss here, because Romney has put forth no tax plan. We should probably be discussing that issue, that Romney's so utterly tight-lipped about any kind of policy position he might hold, but we're not. We're discussing something that was invented by the Obama campaign by cobbling together some of Romney's vague statements and making up a lot of the details.
posted by indubitable at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have of course known that Mitt favored his own wealthy kind, and that many who are being screwed continue to vote against their own self and best interests on the assumption that someday they will be right up there with the 1%s, but isn't it time for the very wealthy to recognize that if the middle class vanishes, then the nation will be finished and they will have to offshore themselves as they have done with their money?
posted by Postroad at 3:14 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


posting this blatant campaign advertisement

I, not some corporate faceless MetaFilter entity, posted it. It's about a report which is also a significant news story, and how it is currently playing politically.

So far all the Romney campaign has said in rejoinder is that the report is "biased" in unidentified ways because one of the authors used to work for the Treasury Department during President Obama's term. Another, however, was a tax official in George W. Bush's administration. And TPC is widely acknowledged as a neutral, non partisan entity.
posted by bearwife at 3:14 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ehh, would having Obama expire the Bush tax cuts really doom the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee though goethean if Obama loses the election? Yeah Republicans would probably say that tax increases happened under Obama but the Dem nominee could point to the Republican house and say the blame is shared.
posted by vuron at 3:15 PM on August 3, 2012


Romney has put forth no tax plan

Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate the Death Tax
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Corporate Taxes
Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent
Strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit
Switch to a territorial tax system
Repeal the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 3:18 PM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


posting this blatant campaign advertisement.

Srsly? Awesome! Who knew reality had an Obama bias?
posted by OmieWise at 3:19 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, bearwife, we all know your multiple-year history on the site was just a cover story leading up to this moment! It has all been a ploy!
posted by winna at 3:20 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I an idiot? How does one make an across the board 20 percent cut in "marginal rates"? The first two marginal rates are 10% and 15%! Does he mean a 20 percent cut in the marginal rate bracket?
posted by muddgirl at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2012


Uh, Obama ran on this in 2008.

So it's a winning strategy then.
posted by chavenet at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2012


@ezraklein: The conclusion of that piece stands: "If dynamic scoring is how Romney makes his numbers work, then his numbers don’t work."
posted by TwoWordReview at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2012


This calculator is not accurate:

at $497,499 income Romney saves you $4,016
at $497,500 income Romney saves you $36,319

Yeah, right...........
posted by caddis at 3:23 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I mean the really terrifying part is how we have a system in which the President has all the power, and can pass anything he likes without any kind of mediating influence. Like, gosh, I dunno: some sort of legislature, or something.

I mean, I know that's crazy talk. I'm sorry.

Obviously, this "Romney" person must be stopped before he can start enacting all these laws.
posted by gsh at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Romney camp's response to the TPC study is that it ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan. So basically, they expect the confidence fairy and voodoo economics will make up the difference.

From what I read of it, the TPC study explicitly incorporated the assumption that those tax cuts would spur much greater economic growth. The numbers still didn't add up.

If the Romney camp is arguing that the tax cuts will, by definition, produce enough growth to offset the loss of revenue, and that they will only accept as legitimate projections that share that assumption, it's a staggering display of I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

Kind of terrifying.
posted by verb at 3:28 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gosh, how did we all forget about "Congress"?

Due to the citizenship requirements for a presidential candidate (which means they don't tend to have experience actually being president of a country), we only have two things to judge a non-incumbent presidential candidate on:
(1) Their stated policies, which are sort of a stand-in for "how much this person agrees with me and my lifestyle."
(2) How much we can envision ourselves having a beer with that candidate, which is a stand-in for "how much I think this person will embarrass our country at state functions."
posted by muddgirl at 3:30 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


mek: The Romney camp's response to the TPC study is that it ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan. So basically, they expect the confidence fairy and voodoo economics will make up the difference.

Toilet overflow economics. Hope you're thirsty down there.
posted by Decimask at 3:39 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I like taxes. They pay for parks."
"And firemen."
"And government."

Parks don't magically pop up when your cith has collected enough money for a park. Fire stations are't built and staffed by a 100% volunteer force. As someone else said, potholes are neither Democrat nor Republican.

Government is many things for many people. When it works well, no one really notices. When it fails, everyone gets up at arms.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:41 PM on August 3, 2012


I give you a hundred bucks. Take yourself and the 2 candidates out for pizza. What will you three talk about?
posted by Postroad at 3:42 PM on August 3, 2012


(I should confess that my #2 criteria on which I judge a presidential candidate is how much I imagine they will scoff at me when, should we ever happen to sit down for a beer, I order a cider because beer gives me heartburn. Whatever Romney's policies, he is a grade A scoffer. Also known as an asshole anywhere outside the strange world of political campaigning.)
posted by muddgirl at 3:44 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I give you a hundred bucks. Take yourself and the 2 candidates out for pizza. What will you three talk about?

"Mr. President you distract the waitress...guv, you go to the rest room and I will pretend to have left my medical marijuana card in the van."
posted by clavdivs at 3:48 PM on August 3, 2012


Here's an idea. How about we all pay the same percentage amount of taxes no matter how much we make?
posted by PipRuss at 3:53 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a terrible idea.
posted by Justinian at 3:54 PM on August 3, 2012 [55 favorites]


That said, all of the Bush tax cuts should expire, not just the ones for the wealthy. Alllll of them.
posted by Justinian at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's an idea. How about we all pay the same percentage amount of taxes no matter how much we make?

A flat tax, eh?

"I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no god."
-- Homer Simpson
posted by chavenet at 3:57 PM on August 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


The calculator shows me two numbers and I can't help compare the two values before getting to the part where one's an increase and the others a savings. Needs more obviousness.
posted by fragmede at 3:57 PM on August 3, 2012


Why a bad idea? I genuinely would like to know.
posted by PipRuss at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2012


Here's an idea. How about we all pay the same percentage amount of taxes no matter how much we make?

Terrible idea. Poorer people spend a higher percentage of their income on necessary items (food, shelter, clothing, transportation to and from their place of employment) than richer people do. My understanding is that taxing the larger percentage of poorer people has a more negative effect on the economy than taxing the smaller proportion of richer people (who still have lots of money to spend and invest after paying taxes). This plan also doesn't address investment income (although for 'some reason' plans like this tend to argue that investment income should be taxed at a different rate, making it not a 'flat tax' at all but rather a tax where rich people pay little and middle class people/poor people pay quite a lot).

That said, all of the Bush tax cuts should expire, not just the ones for the wealthy. Alllll of them.

Yeah, I tend to agree with this, even though I'd probably start paying closer to 14% than 9% of my income in taxes.
posted by muddgirl at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here's an idea. How about we all pay the same percentage amount of taxes no matter how much we make?

Or just pay the same percentage after the cost of living, to avoid becoming a regressive tax.
posted by Brian B. at 3:59 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about this is how no matter what figure you put in for "income" it tells you you're average.


average families—those earning between $2,500 and $29,999
average families—those earning between $30,000 and $49,999
average families—those earning between $50,000 and $74,999
average families—those earning between $75,000 and $99,999
average families—those earning between $100,000 and $199,999

it doesn't drop the "average" part until you go past $200,000.

For reference, the actual median household income is around $50,000.
posted by junco at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, maybe that's true. However, consider this. Without Income tax at all, would a flat tax be good or bad?
posted by PipRuss at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2012


Or just pay the same percentage after the cost of living, to avoid becoming a regressive tax.

This is called a "marginal tax rate." It's what we already do. Your plan has two rates (unless you mean regional cost of living, in which case there are any number of rates you'd have to look up based on your primary zip code, or perhaps average them). Our current plan has 6.

Without Income tax at all, would a flat tax be good or bad?

Without income tax, what would the federal government be taxing? Are we talking about a federal sales tax? Most if not all states have zero sales tax on groceries for the same reason I mentioned above - poorer people spend a larger portion of their income on groceries.

I don't see what the problem is with our marginal tax rate system.
posted by muddgirl at 4:04 PM on August 3, 2012


Haha I just made the same mistake as whichever lackey wrote Romney's tax 'proposal.'
posted by muddgirl at 4:05 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flat tax proponents are usually those who are unhappy about capital gains rates and using some bullshit about income taxes to deflect your attention from what really matters.

The biggest proponent of a flat tax is Steve Forbes, and his (unrealistic) proposal is a flat income tax with a 0% capital gains tax. Fucking bullshit.

A lot of the tax code is there for a reason, and if you were to redesign a tax code from scratch, you'd probably end up with something very similar to what we have now (sans subsidies/incentives deductions).
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:11 PM on August 3, 2012


Alright, thanks for all that info. But no matter what somebody is always going to be upset over taxes. Some sort of reform is necessary, but at what cost?
posted by PipRuss at 4:14 PM on August 3, 2012


Planet Money did an episode where they assembled a panel of economists from across the political spectrum and asked them to propose changes to the tax code. They have some surprising suggestions.
posted by chrchr at 4:16 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


The smartest of the wealthy folks don't care nearly so much about a few points on their marginal personal income tax as they care about the overall economic climate.

Corporate earnings are excellent, and stocks are trading at 16x earnings. A coordinated drop in earnings, or an event that causes investors to revalue the market to say 12x earnings hurts the wealthy far, far more than relatively minor changes in personal income taxes.

@chrchr: that episode was slightly nonsense though, in that it was far too blue-sky. As a simple example, economists wish the mortgage income tax deduction never existed, but now that it does exist, eliminating it would cause an immediate hit to household balance sheets across the nation. We tried cutting housing prices nationwide recently, and it didn't end well. I don't think anybody is seriously considering we try doing that a second time.
posted by grudgebgon at 4:23 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was typing out a comment about how we should eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, but I stopped to listen to chrchr's Planet Money link, and that's the first recommendation in their plan, so I'll just second listening to that.
posted by Kwine at 4:25 PM on August 3, 2012


Here is the argument summary for that Planet Money podcast, before you go looking like I did. The proposals include a national VAT, ending the war on drugs, and carbon taxes. So they're correct in their assessment of it being good policy and politically impossible.

I'd even agree to eliminating corporate taxes in the context of the other recommendations. The megacorps manage to nearly completely evade right now anyway.
posted by mek at 4:39 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just too poor to benefit from the morgage interest tax deduction? I generally don't have enough deductions to get above the standard deduction - is it because I don't tithe?

(It's also really disappointing that the Planet Money economists pointed out that we spend a lot of money on the War on Drugs, but didn't point out how much money we've borrowed to pay for two overseas actual wars.)
posted by muddgirl at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


PipRuss:

Flat Tax: A Flat-Out, Bad Idea


The Folly of the Flat Tax
posted by triggerfinger at 4:44 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


(When I say I'm 'too poor', I'm being facetious - I'm basically proto-Upper-Middle-Class)

(I also just realized that I have a pretty nice mortgage rate compared to families who may have bought their house, say, 5 years ago.)
posted by muddgirl at 4:45 PM on August 3, 2012


I know a hedge fund guy who just gave up his US citizenship and moved to London so he can avoid taxes in the future. Mailed in his passport and everything. For some rich people, tax avoidance is a complete game. To them it makes complete sense to pay $500/hour lawyers to spend days devising tax sheltering schemes because the upside potential could be 1 or 2 million dollars.

The type of person who makes over $300k and would vote for a presidential candidate because "that means I might save 2 or 3k in taxes" is a bad, greedy person. And not a very good citizen. Our country has real problems, you greedy, selfish fucks!
posted by gagglezoomer at 4:46 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's an idea. How about we all pay the same percentage amount of taxes no matter how much we make?

Why not have everyone pay the same dollar amount - no exceptions.

I mean, why is having everyone pay the same percentage supposed to be fair? And why tax income and not wealth? Or consumption? Or...

No, it's best that we all pay exactly the same dollar amount. Call it the cover charge for the USA.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:49 PM on August 3, 2012


know a hedge fund guy who just gave up his US citizenship and moved to London so he can avoid taxes in the future.

First, if the US government suspects you gave up your citizenship to aviod paying taxes, they will come after you.

Second, the guy moved to England? Is England some sort of low-tax haven these days?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:51 PM on August 3, 2012


I mean, why is having everyone pay the same percentage supposed to be fair?

Because money has diminishing marginal utility - the first dollar is far more important than the billionth, so the distribution matters.
posted by mek at 4:54 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Second, the guy moved to England? Is England some sort of low-tax haven these days?

Perhaps he read somewhere that England will allow you to spend a year dead for tax purposes?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:55 PM on August 3, 2012


Second, the guy moved to England? Is England some sort of low-tax haven these days?

It was a very sophisticated thing analyzed by some tax lawyers and England made sense for his specific type of business. He wasn't trying to avoid current taxes on earned income, but income he expects to make in the future.
posted by gagglezoomer at 5:08 PM on August 3, 2012


Second, the guy moved to England? Is England some sort of low-tax haven these days?

Yes, if you are rich enough to a) convince the government that, despite living in England, you're actually non-domiciled (usually by owning property elsewhere) and b) have an overseas subsidiary of your company pay your income there, rather than in the UK. You then pay zero tax (unless you are a US citizen, which collects income tax on worldwide income of US citizens). It's a pretty common trick.
posted by junco at 5:09 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


White hot!
posted by gagglezoomer at 5:14 PM on August 3, 2012


WTF? I put in my yearly salary of $150 billion and the counter went all bonkers and just showed me 9999999s. Obama is clearly not looking out for my needs.
posted by fungible at 5:31 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any requests to change the calculator based on deductions should hereby be referred to as "pony requests".
posted by Artw at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2012


The Romney plan does two things primarily -- it reduces the marginal tax rates and it eliminates deductions to supposedly offset the revenue losses of the tax cuts.

These two things affect the rich and the middle class in opposite ways -- both are bad for the middle class and good for the rich.

For a rich person making millions of dollars, all they care about is the marginal tax rate. A few points in adjustment can save them hundreds of thousand of dollars. On the other hand, they care very little about deductions because deductions don't amount to a hill of beans compared to their income.

For the middle class it is just the opposite. A few points in rate adjustment only saves them a few hundred dollars. However the loss of deductions is huge and massively increases their taxes because deductions are a significant portion of their income.

So Romney is making it sound like both sides are giving something up equally when it is really one-sided.

I can hear the rich right now pleading "Brer Fox, please don't throw me in that briar patch and take away my deductions. I'll just be left with these measly tax cuts." And the middle class will believe them because deductions are vitally important to them.
posted by JackFlash at 6:10 PM on August 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


I will once again implore everyone who would like to intelligently discuss the tax code to read David Cay Johnston's books. They discuss the ways in which the tax code itself is manipulated, how law enforcement was gutted so certain people could get away with paying little to no tax, and how large companies are presently using the tax system to make you and I keep them profitable. There are more than a few companies whose profits are entirely attributable to tax avoidance and/or evasion.

He writes for Reuters now and appears on their YouTube channel from time to time. His facts are solid, even if the politics aren't agreeable.
posted by wierdo at 6:26 PM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a tax guy all I have to say is: Obama, your website crashed Firefox. Good job.
posted by Mojojojo at 6:30 PM on August 3, 2012


It's funny how no one seems to care about anyone else anymore. The rich won't invest in small business. They won't hire through their companies. When they do hire, the do at below a living wage. Meanwhile they make money by rent-seeking on the mortgages of the poor. The only acceptable method of advancement is to take on student debt - basically a mortgage on the future. Every tap has been turned off and the only people making money are the ones that already have money.

Boo.
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:57 PM on August 3, 2012


How I know I'm a socialist at heart and Obama isn't.... my first reaction was "wow... how could he think giving _me_ that much less tax is a good idea?" Sure it was just for shits and giggles since I'm in a different country but... I guess it's a different world too.
posted by adamt at 7:01 PM on August 3, 2012


I'm just pleased to find out that there's an economist called Adam Looney.
posted by flabdablet at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


J. Thomas Looney gave us the Earl of Oxford as Shakespeare theory.

It's pronounced Lo-ney, alas.
posted by BWA at 7:11 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing to keep an eye out for when analyzing the fairness/flatness of tax proposals is the bait-and-switch that often occurs between one's income tax burden and their total tax burden. The U.S. income tax is the one tax we have that tries to make the rich pay their fair share, but it's been responsible for less and less of federal revenues over time. Today, the federal government raises nearly as much with payroll taxes as it does with income taxes (I think they each account for around 40% of total revenues every year, with the remainder coming mostly from corporate and excise taxes.) Since lower and middle class taxpayers pay more in payroll taxes, and the rich pay more in income taxes, of course the political discourse skews toward discussion of the income tax and very little attention is paid to the payroll taxes.

Once you factor in the payroll taxes and the even more regressive consumption/sales tax levied by state and municipal governments, our overall tax system is already very flat. Most flat tax proponents know this, and just want to pull a reverse Robin Hood, but perhaps there are a few out there who just don't understand how marginal utility works. In any event, don't let them fool you with the income/total tax sleight of hand.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:33 PM on August 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why not have everyone pay the same dollar amount - no exceptions.

This is where we get back to the concept of "fairness." If we're talking about something being "applied legitimately and equitably," then pretty much anything that's constitutional and follows clear-cut rules rather than whimsy is by definition fair.

The $25,000 a year cover charge? Fair. Flat 30% tax? Also fair! 50% of all income over $100,000, none below? Fair. 100% confiscation of all money, and redistribution based local cost of living? You guessed it -- all of those are tautologically "fair."

If we're talking about the "free of injustice" kind of fairness, however, we get into tangly arguments about what is just and what kinds of outcomes are desired and what sort of world we need to live in. We get into discussions about who is most able to carry the burden of funding a functional society, and whether the structural choices we make about taxation will result in undesired final outcomes.

For pretty much every functional first-world nation, that tangly next of questions and compromises and arguments has resulted in a "progressive" income tax, where people pay a larger share of their income if they make considerably more money. Most proposals to move away from that system have the consequence of either destroying the funding base for the kind of society and civilization infrastructure we've become accustomed to, or shifting the tax burden "downward" dramatically onto those who have less financial slack to bear the tax burden.

It's counter-intuitive if you're hung up on one of the basic "same percentage! that's fair!" definitions of the word, but it's pretty standard.
posted by verb at 7:42 PM on August 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fairness has nothing to do with equal taxes. Modern taxations is strategically collecting federally printed and insured dollars in order to grow the economy long term, without hurting the economy short term. Taxing the poor is not only economic suicide, but some sort of perverse enslavement wish by desperate guilt ridden wannabes.
posted by Brian B. at 8:21 PM on August 3, 2012


On the bright side, if you make $20k or less it won't matter fuck all to your who wins. On the brighter side those people don't vote anyway.

Hah! There are a kazillion old people in this country who have worked all their lives, contributing to Social Security all the way, who now collect way less than $20,000 a year on their SS checks, and they very definitely vote; it's one dignity they have left and they'll vote from their deathbeds if necessary.
posted by aryma at 8:32 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really, both parties are running on raising taxes. In fact this is the first time in a long time major parties are doing so. Obama is quite specific about letting the Bush cuts expire for the top two brackets.

Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would not be raising taxes, it would be restoring them to the (quite low, historically) rates they were before the cuts. The cuts--which were passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Bush--were supposed to be temporary and were due to expire at the end of 2010.

I know the Republicans like to claim that letting the tax cuts expire would be raising taxes, but it's not, and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with claiming that.

Think it would be raising taxes? Try thinking of it this way: if your employer was going through tough times and temporarily reduced your salary, you probably wouldn't think of going back to your original salary as a raise.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:27 PM on August 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yup, Romney’s plan would raise taxes on middle class

"If there’s nothing damaging in his returns, Romney could now, in one stroke, annihilate Harry Reid’s reputation in Washington. So why hasn’t he released them?"
posted by homunculus at 9:46 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


These people do realise that "promote the general welfare" is in the first 30 words of the fucking constitution which they swear to "preserve, protect and defend", right?

I swear they get to "common defense" and then switch off for the rest of the document.
posted by Talez at 9:51 PM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know the Republicans like to claim that letting the tax cuts expire would be raising taxes, but it's not, and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with claiming that.

This is a point that's been repeated and ignored so frequently it's essentially worthless, unfortunately. The entire premise of the Bush tax cuts was -- ironically -- that there was no need to use the federal budget surplus to pay down the national debt. Instead, it was a windfall that should be returned to its rightful owners -- the American people!

This, of course, ignoring the countercyclical spending concept that makes deficits and surpluses sustainable. Naturally, everyone pointed out that the time that the surplus wasn't a "forever" thing, thus the 2010 expiration for the temporary tax cuts.

At the time, liberals argued that it was foot in the door for Norquist's "drown the government" plan, but conservatives fired back that the nasty liberals just wanted to keep all that sweet money for themselves instead of letting the PEOPLE have it. Yet, look how it turned out: the rates after the Bush tax cuts are now referred to as unacceptably highby conservatives, and the "planned" expiration of the cuts is routinely called "the largest tax increase in history" etc etc.

I swear, the success of modern conservatism isn't Frank Luntz's doing: it's Michel Foucault's.
posted by verb at 10:35 PM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's a ridiculously simplistic and inaccurate calculator. In my case it says my taxes would go up $1,339, but actually my taxes would go down $26,000 if Romney's tax policies were currently in effect. Doesn't mean I'd ever vote for Romney though.
posted by w0mbat at 10:42 PM on August 3, 2012


Is this the part of the thread where we blame Foucault for the 21st century? Sweet.
posted by mek at 1:14 AM on August 4, 2012


Yeah, this is an incredibly inaccurate calculator. If you click through to see why your taxes would "raise" under the Romney tax scheme, it tells you that they've come up with their own idea of how Romney would pay for tax cuts. But there is no basis for this that suggests this is what Romney would do. It's quite possible that tax cuts could not be offset, but government spending overall might decrease -especially under a small-government Republican president.
posted by corb at 1:33 AM on August 4, 2012


especially under a small-government Republican president.

LOL, that's a good one.
posted by mek at 2:50 AM on August 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Eat the rich! That's my solution. I know that the rich are not a complete meal, because they lack moral fiber and other nutrients. But I say "eat them anyway!" Surely we can pluck valuable protein and carbohydrates from the bones of the rich. We know they've been hoarding those life resources. How tasty it will be to finally feast on the delicious carcasses of the wealthy! It will be like eating the fattened calf, or the really obese pig. There's nothing more delicious than eating a fattened pig-calf!

I enjoy the taste of vengeance. I hope that leads to another meal later.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:09 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you click through to see why your taxes would "raise" under the Romney tax scheme, it tells you that they've come up with their own idea of how Romney would pay for tax cuts.

This is because he refuses to do so. There is not a single analysis at this point that says the middle and lower class tax burden will be reduced. They all point to an increase while the upper class tax burden gets all the reductions.

But there is no basis for this that suggests this is what Romney would do. It's quite possible that tax cuts could not be offset

It's not just possible: Romney confirms his tax cuts won’t be paid for

but government spending overall might decrease -especially under a small-government Republican president.

Again, I don't think there's a single analysis that says this happens without massive tax hikes on everybody but the rich (who would get tax cuts), especially when combined with the Ryan budget, which basically ends most of the safety net as we know it.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:51 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hmmn This tax calculator doesn't see to include any of the over 40 new taxes that will phase in under Obamacare. In fact even the Mandate has been called a tax.
posted by Gungho at 4:55 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmmn This tax calculator doesn't see to include any of the over 40 new taxes that will phase in under Obamacare. In fact even the Mandate has been called a tax.

Claims that Romney's plan will be revenue-neutral don't include the fact the plans to increase defense spending by .5% GDP, either. This is comparing the impact of proposed policies, not ones that are already in place.

If we're talking about the impact of policies already slated to change in the future, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts should be taken as the baseline. But that won't happen, will it?
posted by verb at 6:46 AM on August 4, 2012


a small-government Republican president.

I'm sorry, there really is no such thing. republicans don't really cut spending, they just reallocate it to programs they favor. This is not meant as a huff duff one side good, one side evil statement. All one really has to do is look at government spending under each administration.

You will not find a small government republican president within your lifetime, period.

Reagan certainly wasn't, Bush I had to raise taxes, Bush II was not a small government president by any stretch of the imagination... Nixon was more liberal in some aspects than any president since his time, shame about his felonious bent, Ford? perhaps the smallest government republican president in the last 40 odd years and his policies directly helped turn a mild recession into what we experienced in the late 70s for which Carter took the blame. (boy that sounds failure), but seriously, if one is going to hold Ford up as the model small government president I suspect the premise is flawed.

Especially if one things for a micro second that Romneycare Romney (I'm more liberal than ted Kennedy!) will be small government? heh,
posted by edgeways at 7:04 AM on August 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Small Goverment" never, ever applies to what the people who demand it want. In the case of Mr. Romney that probably means lots and lots of free money for companies owned by billionaires with a side order of goverment funded socially regressive crap to keep the Neanderthals happy.
posted by Artw at 7:09 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is also kind of worth watching the clips from Maddow's last show. Romney squandered whatever benefit of the doubt in talking about his taxes, without hard copy evidence.
posted by edgeways at 7:58 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the bright side, if you make $20k or less it won't matter fuck all to your who wins. On the brighter side those people don't vote anyway.

Hi, I'm one of "those people" and I do, in fact, vote. Sorry to disappoint you but hey, I appreciate being belittled, labeled, and othered all in one careless, garbled comment.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:25 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


And according to the calculator, it will affect me which candidate wins.
posted by désoeuvrée at 8:29 AM on August 4, 2012


But the calculator is nonsense (to put it politely).
posted by The World Famous at 9:26 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have of course known that Mitt favored his own wealthy kind, and that many who are being screwed continue to vote against their own self and best interests on the assumption that someday they will be right up there with the 1%s, but isn't it time for the very wealthy to recognize that if the middle class vanishes, then the nation will be finished and they will have to offshore themselves as they have done with their money?
posted by Postroad at 6:14 PM on August 3

6 years ago or so when I realized the recession was only affecting the hoi-polloi I used to think that those with all the power would not allow the middle class to vanish because we are the consumers. I no longer think that. Thanks to the global economy and newly-emerging consumer classes, it no longer matters if the people in the U.S. cannot afford to buy (frozen canapes, iPhones, front loader washing machines, cable TV.)

As for saving the USA just for love of country, that's a pipe dream. The uber-wealthy are only interested in attaining more wealth because money is power. If things get bad enough here due to disparity of income, if the United States becomes uglier, more violent, less functional, then the wealthy will simply relocate without a backward glance.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:25 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to question the accuracy of that first calculator. Punch in 197,499, and you see that you'll pay 1,339 in increase under Romney. Punch in 197,500 and you suddenly get a 4,016 decrease? The tax code has never worked like that.

The calculator works that way because the report interpreted the Romney plan in the best possible light. If they were to smooth the deduction phase outs, the Romney plan would look even worse in its favoritism for the rich.

The way it works is that they assumed Romney's claim that his plan would be revenue neutral is true. First they figured how much revenue is lost due to the tax cuts. Then they started to eliminate all tax deductions starting at the richest first and gradually moving them downward until they reached an income level at which the losses equaled the gains.

This is the cause of the brick wall change that you see in the calculator. If they had instead phased the deductions out gradually, then the deduction removal would have to move even more deeply into the middle class, making the Romney plan even more unfavorable to the middle class.

The calculator as implemented reflects the most generous interpretation of the Romney plan. A more realistic interpretation with phased deduction removal would look much worse.
posted by JackFlash at 10:39 AM on August 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


By the way, whenever you see the phrase "broaden the tax base" just remember that this means screwing the middle class. Broadening the tax base is just code for removing tax deductions. Tax deductions are a big part of middle class tax reductions. They don't mean much at all to the very rich because deductions are a trivial part of their income.

Broadening the tax base (removing tax deductions) only works fairly for the middle class if the marginal tax rate is substantially reduced and becomes much more steeply progressive. That is not the Romney plan.
posted by JackFlash at 10:50 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, whenever you see the phrase "broaden the tax base" just remember that this means screwing the middle class. Broadening the tax base is just code for removing tax deductions. Tax deductions are a big part of middle class tax reductions. They don't mean much at all to the very rich because deductions are a trivial part of their income.

This is interesting to me, but I felt your statement is a little overbroad. It matters which deductions (or credits) are eliminated, right? And it also seems to matter how we define who is in the "middle class." I'm thinking in particular of the mortage interest deduction here, which overwhelmingly benefits taxpayers with big mortgages. How many of these people are "middle class?" The mortgage interest deduction doesn't benefit those taxpayers with smaller mortgages because the standard deduction in many cases is big enough that it exceeds what those taxpayers could take in itemized deduction.

If we're talking about eliminating, say, the earned income tax credit, I think this point makes a whole lot more sense.

I've also heard the phrase "broadening the base" to apply to arguments for consumption taxes, which could be horribly regressive unless they had exclusions for necessities. And there is wide disagreement on what expenditures are necessities.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, whenever you see the phrase "broaden the tax base" just remember that this means screwing the middle class.

MoonOrb: This is interesting to me, but I felt your statement is a little overbroad.


Let me put out a few numbers that demonstrate the issue. As you say, it definitely matters which deductions are eliminated. In order to make the Romney numbers work, you have to eliminate the deductions that bring in the most revenue first.

The largest revenue deduction is the health insurance deduction which amounts to $660 billion a year. This one might seem obscure because you don't really see it. It means that the money that your employer pays for your heath insurance is not counted as income to you, even though it is the same as cash compensation, so you don't pay income tax on it. This deduction would have to be eliminated first to make the Romney numbers work so your taxable income might be increased by, say, $6,000 per year.

The next biggest deduction in terms of potential revenue is the mortgage deduction at $480 billion per year. After these two big ones, deductions trail off significantly so we can ignore them for this exercise.

If you eliminate these two deductions, a middle class family might pay two or three thousand dollar a year extra in taxes. That's a lot of money for a middle class family.

Now let's look at how eliminating these two deductions affects someone making $10 million a year. If he has a gold plated health plan, that only increases his taxable income by $20,000 a year. And there is a $1 million limit on the mortgage size for deduction so with a 5% loan that deduction is worth a maximum of $50,000. So eliminating these two deductions adds $70,000 to his income for an additional tax of $24,500 at the current 35% tax rate.

But look what happens if he trades his two top deductions for a 5 point decrease in tax rates. This saves him $500,000. So if you were a wealthy person which would you rather have, the deductions which save you $24,500 or the tax rate cut which saves you $500,000? That is the trade in the Romney plan.

This is why the very wealthy don't care about deductions. They care about tax rates. On the other hand, the middle class really cares about deductions, because deductions make up a significant portion of their income and significantly lower their effective tax rate without requiring an actual rate cut.
posted by JackFlash at 11:52 AM on August 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Romney tax plan on table. Debt collapses table

Some key points:
The Romney campaign offered two responses to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis, one more misleading than the other.

First, the campaign called the analysis “just another biased study from a former Obama staffer.” That jab refers to Adam Looney, one of the study’s three co-authors, who served in a staff role on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. But the Tax Policy Center is directed by Donald Marron, who was one of the principals on George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Calling the Tax Policy Center biased simply isn’t credible — a point underscored by the fact that the Romney campaign referred to the group’s work as “objective, third-party analysis” during the primary campaign.

Then the Romney campaign said, “The study ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction called for in the Romney plan.” There’s a reason the study ignores those “positive benefits”: Romney has called for a revenue-neutral corporate tax plan that brings the rate down from 35 percent to 25 percent while also promising to balance the budget. He has not said how he will achieve either goal. Until he does, those positive benefits — if they exist — are impossible to calculate.

If Romney tries to pay for his tax cuts by reducing spending, the results, as the Tax Policy Center notes, would be even more regressive. Romney has promised to increase defense spending and hold benefits steady for the current generation of seniors. The only remaining big spending programs are those that help the poor; that’s where Romney’s cuts would have to be concentrated. Paying for tax cuts for the rich by curtailing programs for the poor is even more of a reverse-Robin Hood act than paying for tax cuts for the rich by cutting the tax expenditures (deductions and the like) of the middle class.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities produced its own analysis of Romney’s plan, based on an assumption that Romney pays for half of his tax cuts through spending cuts. The conclusion: By 2022, Romney would need to cut all non-defense, non-Social Security programs by 49 percent. That is not plausible, to say the least.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:24 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


JackFlash: thanks for that explanation. I'm clear now on what you were saying, thanks.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2012


Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate the Death Tax
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Corporate Taxes
Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent
Strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit
Switch to a territorial tax system
Repeal the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)


Except he handwaves away the deductions and credits he's going to get rid of. Since that is the core of how his plan stays revenue neutral, its a like a plan for a sportscar with the space for the engine labelled "really powerful engine."

Its pure shite. Like the rest of his plans, long on promise, short on details.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:01 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the Pontiac Fiero of tax plans.
posted by The World Famous at 2:12 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If things get bad enough here due to disparity of income, if the United States becomes uglier, more violent, less functional, then the wealthy will simply relocate without a backward glance.

“If we take another 10 percent of middle-class America’s income, who knows what kind of other social unrest could happen in this country and the changes that could happen to our way of life?”
posted by homunculus at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2012


Late to thread. Saturday afternoon on the West coast. Political thread. Drunk. Making a comment on a post about the American political situation. I'm not going to be popular.

It looks like, to an ouside observer that a vote for the incumbent who has hands tied means that things might get less worse less quickly. Vote for the challenger, and the status quo accelerates towards oligarchy.

I kinda sorta understand the Democrat/Republican social divide - it's not economic, it's social. And no-one cares that the democrats used to be the "republicans" and the current republicans were kinda-sorta the Royalists under the name of democracy in order to gain power in the New World, only that they've changed their allegiances to whoever can promise that their family transcends into the elite strata. But in practice, it sounds so heavily of "Fuck you, I've got mine." Does not dwell well for the future.

I wonder how many hardcore non-elite Republican voting people really want their kids to get a job and leave their house (versus how many have thrown their kids out of the house and not thought about it since they left).
posted by porpoise at 8:27 PM on August 4, 2012


Again, I don't think there's a single analysis that says this happens without massive tax hikes on everybody but the rich (who would get tax cuts), especially when combined with the Ryan budget, which basically ends most of the safety net as we know it.

Yeah, but what I'm saying is that ending "most of the safety net as we know it" is eliminating spending. You don't have to hike taxes on anyone to cut programs, it just requires an axe and a willingness to use it. Now, there are legitimate points of view that some people find this morally wrong, or don't want this to happen, but that doesn't mean it's not a real possibility.

And for the Obama camp to ignore that and assume they want to make it revenue neutral without cuts and with tax hikes is blatantly not what the Romney camp is likely intending at all - whic makes it more of the same partisan BS.
posted by corb at 9:47 AM on August 5, 2012


And for the Obama camp to ignore that and assume they want to make it revenue neutral without cuts and with tax hikes is blatantly not what the Romney camp is likely intending at all - whic makes it more of the same partisan BS.

The tax analysis is based on what Romney says it is, not on your imagination. He has only said definitively that he will pay for his tax cuts by "broadening the base", that is, cutting deductions. You may think that he could do it with spending cuts, but until Romney says what he wants to cut, you can't make assumptions. What he is "likely intending" may be a secret plan that you are privy to but we can only go on what he actually says.

Regarding spending we do know that he has said he will increase military spending, which makes his plan even less credible. Further he has said no cuts to social security and medicare for the current generation. So if you take out defense, social security and medicare there is simply no mathematical way of making his plan work unless you cut every other government program by 60% -- highways, judges, law enforcement, education, agriculture, interior, forest service, veterans, intelligence, NASA, etc.

So until Romney specifies what spending cuts he will make, the only reasonable assumption is that he plans to do it by cutting deductions -- exactly as he stated.
posted by JackFlash at 10:23 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


And for the Obama camp to ignore that and assume they want to make it revenue neutral without cuts and with tax hikes is blatantly not what the Romney camp is likely intending at all - whic makes it more of the same partisan BS.

You have either misunderstood, or are ignorant of Romney's own statements on the matter. He has claimed that he will pay for tax cuts by eliminating wasteful deductions. The only deductions that would make up the difference for his tax cuts dramatically affect the effective rate for middle class tax payers.

If Romney wants to announce that he will pay for tax cuts by cutting spending, he is welcome to say that, but he has not. He has claimed that he will increase spending.

To claim that this critique is "the Obama camp's partisan BS" is either a gross misunderstanding, or a shameless lie.
posted by verb at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2012


corb: " And for the Obama camp to ignore that and assume they want to make it revenue neutral without cuts and with tax hikes is blatantly not what the Romney camp is likely intending at all - whic makes it more of the same partisan BS."

Do you realize how weaselly the phrase "blatantly not what the Romney camp is likely intending at all" sounds? Nobody has any idea what the Romney camp is "likely intending" on spending, because he won't detail the spending cuts, yet he's perfectly happy to detail where the tax cuts will be. This is exactly what Ronald Reagan did in the early 1980s -- specific tax cuts now, unspecified spending cuts later, and of course the spending cuts never happened. Ditto GWB with his tax cuts.

Voters fall for this shell game time after time, so the Obama campaign is right to put out their projection of what that would look like (based on a very non-partisan report) and let Romney come to the table with his own numbers if he doesn't like them.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mitt Romney’s “culture” war - His comment about Palestinians wasn't a gaffe: It was part of his concerted efforts to demonize his opponents
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on August 5, 2012


What Romney tells us about our tax code: The real question isn't whether Mitt Romney paid his taxes but whether we want to make an unfair tax code worse
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on August 5, 2012


I honestly doubt he gives a shit one way or another about Palestinians. Demigrating them is just a cheap way to pick up more pro-Israel votes and from his point of view comes with no consequences whatsoever, since mainstream America does not and never will care about Arabs.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on August 5, 2012


RNC Chairman Calls Harry Reid A “Dirty Liar”

Face the Nation Host Compares Harry Reid to Joe McCarthy
posted by homunculus at 6:15 PM on August 5, 2012


How many of the people outraged at Reid's unsubstantiated double-hearsay-without-attribution allegations against Romney were also Birthers, I wonder.
posted by The World Famous at 6:45 PM on August 5, 2012


Here is the thing though corb. Until Romney specifies exactly what it is in his magical plan (and stick with those specifics for more than 24 hours), people get to speculate about what it is most likely will be, tax hikes, drastic spending cuts? Whatever else one can say about Romney, he is horrible at consistency and specifics. That is an attack that has come against Romney from both sides of the political spectrum.
posted by edgeways at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2012


Face the Nation Host Compares Harry Reid to Joe McCarthy

What an incredible nincompoop Bob Schieffer is. This is nothing like McCarthy, and even just logically, Romney isn't being asked to prove a negative. But I guess we know who's paying for Schieffer's country house.
posted by OmieWise at 6:43 AM on August 6, 2012


It's only like McCarthy in that it's an unsubstantiated multiple-hearsay allegation without even attribution of the alleged tertiary source or any explanation of how that unidentified source allegedly came upon the hearsay information or, indeed, what that actual information even is.

The most reliable that Reid's information could possibly be as it's been set forth by Reid would be if his source saw the returns, which is not alleged and which, unless Reid is omitting some part of the allegation that would make it make sense. But his source is alleged to be merely a Bain investor, and there's no allegation that this unidentified Bain investor saw Romney's returns.

So, assuming the unidentified source did not see the returns, the source was relying on the representation of some other unidentified source telling him or her that Romney paid no federal income tax for some given period of time. Who was that source? How did that person know? And why should we believe that they were telling the truth?

If Romney himself was the one who told Reid's source directly that he paid no federal income tax during some time period (which is not alleged), why should we believe that that statement was the truth? Do you really think Romney always told the truth about his personal finances when speaking to Bain investors? Really?

We believe that Romney paid no federal income tax because it seems plausible that a super rich person would pay no federal income tax. We believe it because we don't like Romney. And that's all fine - those are perfectly legitimate reasons to believe that unsourced speculation about Romney is probably true.

But if you think Reid's unsubstantiated double-hearsay without attribution is even remotely the sort of information that anyone should ever base any sort of decision on, I've got a late 20th Century American religion to sell you.
posted by The World Famous at 8:02 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say it's the sort of information anyone not corrupt as fuck should release their tax returns to.
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


He should have released his tax returns regardless of whether or not Reid made laughably unreliable unsourced multiple hearsay allegations. Whether Romney should release the returns is not the point. The point is that you're off your rocker if you think Reid's allegations are any more substantial than the idle speculation of some random person on the internet. Sure, Reid and I are both probably right when we guess that Romney probably didn't pay any federal income tax. But neither of us is relying on a source with any firsthand knowledge of the matter.
posted by The World Famous at 8:30 AM on August 6, 2012


Well, Reid seems like a pretty stand up reliable guy who would have every reason to move in the same circles as people from Bain, so there's that differentiating Him from random guy on the Internet.

Plus of course Romney fits every known profile of a white collar criminal even before you factor in his evasiveness. It's not like this is an out of the blue attack on someone who isn't hiding anything - dude is hiding SOMETHING and massive scale tax evasion sure fits the bill.
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2012


dude is hiding SOMETHING and massive scale tax evasion sure fits the bill.

Reid is not even alleging tax evasion, is he? Just that Romney's finances were structured such that he paid no personal federal income tax.
posted by The World Famous at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2012


Meh. Whether within the law or not dude is dodging taxes. And I'd bet money he's pushing things oi the limit.
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2012


I agree. But I would have bet that money regardless of whether Harry Reid made unsubstantiated, unsourced multiple hearsay allegaitons.
posted by The World Famous at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2012


Or he just didnt reveal the source and doesn't want to

I would really like to see the news organizations building that up as some kind of a crime argue that an on the record source is a requirement at all times.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see how the "on the record" source issue applies to an allegation made by a non-journalist for political gain. An allegation is made, with the person making the allegation specifically disavowing any knowledge of his own as to the truth of the allegation and citing only an unidentified source who is not even alleged to have direct, personal knowledge of the matter him or herself.

I think it's a good bet that Reid's allegation about Romney's taxes is either true or close enough to true not to make a difference. But "somebody told me one time" is simply not a credible source.
posted by The World Famous at 10:25 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on August 6, 2012


But "somebody told me one time" is simply not a credible source.

Since when do we expect our politicians to use credible sources? That the Republicans would accuse Reid of lying when Romney literally can't make it through the day without lying is pretty rich.
posted by mek at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh. Whether within the law or not dude is dodging taxes.

??? How can one be within the law and dodging taxes? This is the sole reason Mitt hasn't released anything more than he has...He can't win. Either he paid what he owed or he is a massive cheat. Either way the Liberal People's Front (LPF) won't be satisfied, and will start accusing him of not paying his fair share. Fair share sez who? The years and years of convoluted tax laws written on both sides of the aisle? The Prius driving crowd that doesn't think 15% of capitol gains is fair? What do you think is earning him those capitol gains? Monies that have already been taxed, and if he's not careful will be taxed again after he is dead. Being rich and smart isn't a crime. To tell you the truth America needs a COO who is smart with his money, so maybe he'll be smart with ours.
posted by Gungho at 12:08 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good point, mek. Because all politicians are liars, we should believe the ones we think are on our side. Because there's no way they'd lie about being on our side.
posted by The World Famous at 12:09 PM on August 6, 2012


Gunfho - if it's something to br proud of he should release the tax returns and justify them.
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because all politicians are liars, we should believe the ones we think are on our side.

In the realm of hearsay, trustworthiness matters. Reid has a pretty good track record; Romney lies on a daily basis. Most importantly, if Reid's allegations are false, Romney could completely destroy his reputation by releasing his tax returns. The Democrats have handed them a golden gun, basically. Reid lying about this would be unbelievably incompetent.
posted by mek at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2012


In the realm of hearsay, trustworthiness matters.

Yes. That's why not knowing who the source of the hearsay is is particularly problematic, as is not knowing how the unidentified source of the hearsay came upon the hearsay information he or she told to Harry Reid.

Most importantly, if Reid's allegations are false, Romney could completely destroy his reputation by releasing his tax returns.

Releasing his tax returns, no matter what they say, would not have any impact on the question of whether or not an unidentified person told Reid that Romney didn't pay any personal federal income tax. Reid can just respond that, well, that's what this unidentified person told him, and he even said he didn't know whether it was true or not.

Reid lying about this would be unbelievably incompetent.

How could it ever be proved that Reid is lying when he sais that someone he knows who claims to have been a Bain investor once told him, without any proof or details, that he believed Romney didn't pay any personal federal income tax for ten years? Get every single Bain investor to say that they have never talked to Harry Reid and get every single person who has ever talked to Harry Reid to publicly disavow ever saying that to him?
posted by The World Famous at 12:24 PM on August 6, 2012


Reid can just respond that, well, that's what this unidentified person told him, and he even said he didn't know whether it was true or not.

Which would be an admission he was just crying wolf. He would no longer be credible. In fact we now have Pelosi backing him up on this, so Romney could now demonstrate the incompetence of the Democratic House and Senate leadership in one fell swoop. The press would just love to turn the story around and rip those two to pieces over fabricating a false allegation.

Whatever is in Romney's returns, it is extremely toxic.
posted by mek at 12:30 PM on August 6, 2012


I'm again not getting the weird logic where if Reid doesnt identify his sources it's okay to call him a fraud and a liar but Romneys claim to have paid taxes must be taken on faith or of questioned must be questioned with heavy qualifiers.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which would be an admission he was just crying wolf. He would no longer be credible.

That's already what he's said. He's already not credible. He says some unidentified person told him this thing about Romney and that he doesn't know whether it's true or not and won't say who told him or how they know. That's not credible.

In fact we now have Pelosi backing him up on this

No, we have Pelosi saying that anyone who wasn't part of Reid's conversations doesn't know what they're talking about. Since she wasn't part of Reid's conversations, she is one of those people who doesn't know what she's talking about. And all she's willing to back him up on is that she thinks he's telling the truth when he says that some unidentified person once told him something about Romney.

The press would just love to turn the story around and rip those two to pieces over fabricating a false allegation.

Again, how can anyone prove false the allegation that someone told Reid a rumor about Romney? That is the only thing Reid or Pelosi are standing behind.

Whatever is in Romney's returns, it is extremely toxic.

Because some unidentified person once said so to Harry Reid. Oh, sorry, I shouldn't assume that conversation actually happened, because I wasn't there so I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm again not getting the weird logic where if Reid doesnt identify his sources it's okay to call him a fraud and a liar but Romneys claim to have paid taxes must be taken on faith or of questioned must be questioned with heavy qualifiers.

I'm not, either. Is someone here making that argument?
posted by The World Famous at 12:38 PM on August 6, 2012


Honestly, I find the insistence on Romney releasing his tax returns - supposedly confidential information - to be kind of disgusting. Tax returns contain so much private and personal data, that the public really has no need to know in order to decide who to vote for.

We don't need to know the details of their medical history, or what pets they had, or how much they spent on redecorating drapes or clothes or any of that stuff. Does that really matter even the tiniest bit compared to what policies someone will endorse? This is kind of like when people were accusing Michelle Obama of being un-American because she went on vacation to France. Let politicians have their personal lives, and let them exist for a bit not under a microscope.
posted by corb at 12:38 PM on August 6, 2012


Honestly, I find the insistence on Romney releasing his tax returns - supposedly confidential information - to be kind of disgusting.

Tough.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2012


He says some unidentified person told him this thing about Romney and that he doesn't know whether it's true or not and won't say who told him or how they know. That's not credible.

That's your opinion and you're welcome to it, but it is an opinion that is clearly not shared by the media, which differentiate between an unsubstantiated claim by a random blogger or some guy on the street, and one made repeatedly by the leader of the Senate. The accusation is serious because of who is making it.
posted by mek at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2012


I think it is legitimate to question Romney's business experience, since that is what he is running on. I think Romney's conduct at Bain capital is questionable, and if his tax returns from that period would show that he was profiting off of being an absentee CEO, that seems completely applicable when voters are considering whether or not he will be a good President.

We don't need to know the details of their medical history

And yet the media reports on the President's physical every year. Because the President has a very different job from, say, my boss, who doesn't send me a memo when he gets his health checked.
posted by muddgirl at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's your opinion and you're welcome to it

It's also your opinion, as you stated above.

I said: "Reid can just respond that, well, that's what this unidentified person told him, and he even said he didn't know whether it was true or not."

You responded: "Which would be an admission he was just crying wolf. He would no longer be credible."

And I pointed out that that is already exactly what he's doing. As you correctly point out, doing what he's doing means he's no longer credible.

but it is an opinion that is clearly not shared by the media, which differentiate between an unsubstantiated claim by a random blogger or some guy on the street, and one made repeatedly by the leader of the Senate.

The only claim being made repeatedly by the leader of the Senate is that some guy he won't name once told him something that may or may not be true and htat the leader of the Senate is not willing to stand behind.
posted by The World Famous at 12:50 PM on August 6, 2012


corb, back when Romney was running for Governor, he simultaneously refused to release his tax returns while attacking his opponent's husband for not releasing his (even though his opponent had released hers.) I think he's lost the right to play the "please respect my privacy" card.

There is a long precedent of candidates releasing their returns, and Romney can't simultaneously refuse to do so, expect opponents to do so, and then complain when rumors pop up about what's in them.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:51 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is a long precedent of candidates releasing their returns, and Romney can't simultaneously refuse to do so, expect opponents to do so, and then complain when rumors pop up about what's in them.

Well, sure, Romney can be a stinky hypocrite (and he is), but I, having never demanded anyone else's tax returns, can sure think this is all a load of horseshit distracting from any potential real issues (and I do).
posted by corb at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2012


You probably shouldn't run for president.
posted by Artw at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2012


To me, a person's 'private' financial dealings are immensely important for judging their worthiness of leading our countries financial dealings. Romney has made a lot of unsubstantiated claims about his tax situation that could easily be verified or disproven based on his tax returns and little else.

In the past, we've often held up military service as an important indicator of service to one's country. Nowadays, is it so inconceivable gladly paying one's taxes, when one could so easily avoid doing so, is a similar signal of allegiance?
posted by muddgirl at 1:23 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute, everyone. Romney did release his tax returns: 12 years of them as a matter of fact.

Oh. Wait, that's right. I was thinking of George Romney, not Mitt.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:25 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl, I agree with you to a great extent. But I wonder where we should draw the line in terms of "gladly paying one's taxes, when one could so easily avoid doing so." I take deductions where I can, and I prepare my tax return in good faith, reporting income, expenses, and other information to calculate my true tax burden. Although I don't always like how much I have to pay in income tax, I always pay what I owe.

So where's the line with regard to that approach? At what point should a person decide not to take a possible deduction, not to apply a legitimate tax credit, etc? When you say "when one could so easily avoid" paying one's taxes, what, exactly, to you mean? Do you mean that they could easily and lawfully reduce the amount of tax owed by accurately reporting income, expenses, etc., but that there is some point at which people should intentionally fail to completely report that information just so that they can pay a greater amount of tax?
posted by The World Famous at 1:30 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


As noted many times in this thread, part of Romney's fuzzy tax math is closing loopholes and eliminating deductions (though he won't specify which ones.) Closing the loopholes and limiting the deductions after you've already benefited immensely from the loopholes and deductions smacks of "I got mine, Jack." Which is, you know, capitalism, but isn't exactly a winning campaign message.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:34 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So where's the line with regard to that approach? At what point should a person decide not to take a possible deduction, not to apply a legitimate tax credit, etc?

Romney is welcome to draw that line for us, and explain his reasons for doing whatever it is he did in his tax returns. He is running for president after all...
posted by mek at 1:42 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I, having never demanded anyone else's tax returns, can sure think this is all a load of horseshit distracting from any potential real issues (and I do).

Yeah, but this is really a bit disingenuous, since it makes it seem as if what people really care about are the tax returns per se, rather than what they stand for. The truth is that Romney is saying he wants to be President because he cares about the country, and that he cares more about the country than he does about cash money, and further, his policy is that people of his class need not be taxed more because they already pay "their fair share." His tax returns speak to all of these issues. Private citizens who stay private citizens have a broader latitude in terms of what they do with their taxes, and for them legal is the only standard they have to meet. Romney's tax returns, indeed, any candidates returns, are really directly illustrative of their civic character, and as such are not some other issue, they are the issue. This is particularly true with Romney who has argued that our current code should, if anything, be revised to allow the ultra-rich to pay less in taxes. I'm not really sure how someone could claim to care about whether or not Romney is a good candidate for President of the United States and not want to see his tax returns.
posted by OmieWise at 1:48 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney is welcome to draw that line for us, and explain his reasons for doing whatever it is he did in his tax returns. He is running for president after all...

Romney has made no claim equivalent to muddgirl's assertion to which I was responding, which was "Nowadays, is it so inconceivable gladly paying one's taxes, when one could so easily avoid doing so, is a similar signal of allegiance?"

I have no doubt that Romney does not think such a line exists, but that one's civic and patriotic duty with regard to paying taxes is to accurately report all income and other relevant information and pay the tax due based on an accurate assessment under existing tax law. Quite frankly, I tend to agree with that. I think the question is not whether or not he has voluntarily overpaid his taxes, but whether or not American tax policy appropriately treats those of very high incomes and whether that policy should change.

I think Romney's tax returns will inevitably undermine the Republicans' platform in that regard. The fact that the way very rich people are able to pay very little is by engaging in economic activity encouraged, subsidized, and prescribed by tax policy won't matter politically. The Republican party has referred to tax breaks, credits, and deductions as "welfare" and "socialism" for far too long to now lean on stuff like $77,000 a year tax credits for equestrian dressage as legitimate excuses not to increase taxes on the very wealthy - particularly after taking Obama to task for correctly pointing out that people like Mitt Romney did not build their businesses and wealth without breaks and subsidies from the government.
posted by The World Famous at 1:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Republican party has referred to tax breaks, credits, and deductions as "welfare" and "socialism" for far too long

Has this actually been said on anything but things you get back above and beyond your tax burden? I have never heard it, but would welcome links.
posted by corb at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2012


Personally, I draw the line at tax havens. That would fall under failing to provide an accurate summary of income and wealth.

Utilizing tax havens may or may not be illegal - I'm not a lawyer. But I have an ethical oblication to judge a Presidential candidate on more than whether or not their behavior is illegal.

Has this actually been said on anything but things you get back above and beyond your tax burden? I have never heard it, but would welcome links.
If the citizens’ representatives are elected by an increasing percentage of voters who pay no income tax, how long will it be before these representatives respond more to demands for yet more entitlements and subsidies from non-payers than to the pleas of taxpayers to exercise greater spending prudence?
Of course no one comes right out and says "welfare" or "socialism." It's all very diplomatic.
posted by muddgirl at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2012


Has this actually been said on anything but things you get back above and beyond your tax burden?

It has. I don't have links at the moment, but I can tell you that referring to all of those things that way was commonplace when I was working for Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill for several years, and I still hear my contacts there using that terminology on a regular basis, even though they know it makes me want to scream.
posted by The World Famous at 1:55 PM on August 6, 2012


This Video Proves Romney Knows His Whole Campaign Is a Lie
posted by homunculus at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also have heard that there are ways to structure a business such that one draws a regular income but can report it as a investment income or capital gains or derivatives or something, such that it is taxed at a lower rate. Again, this is probably legal but the whole reason given for having a lower rate for investment earnings is that there is some risk. If one is drawing a regular income but being taxed at a lower rate, even if that's perfectly legal I think it's gaming the system and something that I would judge a presidential candidate on. (I don't know if Romney has actually done this - I don't actually know for sure that he uses a tax haven although I think something in his released tax returns indicated that he did but closed them out before 2010).

I'm sure there are people more qualified to speak on the hundreds of thousands of ways that people who are rich can more easily (and legally) avoid paying taxes than people who are middle class or poorer. Again, I can and should judge a candidate on more than the legality of their behavior. I'm not accusing Romney of doing any of these things, but the fact that he hasn't taken the incredibly normal action of releasing his returns seems to indicate (a) there's something very nasty in there, (b) he's confident that he can win no matter how much mud is slung, or (c) he's been playing some kind of 20-year n-dimensional chess game where it turns out the returns are perfectly proper, and he's going to wait for the perfect time to release them to discredit Democratic opponents.
posted by muddgirl at 2:24 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's another tool in the toolbox labeled "Things the 1% can do to lower their taxes because they have a phalanx of accountants and lawyers":
As the LAT describes it, Mitt submitted one proposed reassessment, claiming their home on the beach in La Jolla had lost almost 45% of its value. After that didn’t work, they got a lawyer to submit a new appeal; he came up with a more modest claim that the house had lost 27% of its value in the first year, or 39% over two years. San Diego County responded by assessing the home had lost 7% of its value. And only after two more years of declining home prices did the county agree with Mitt’s lawyers amended appeal of a 27-29% loss.
This is the part of the tax discussion that doesn't get mentioned often enough. When you're worth hundreds of millions, shelling out a few thousand here or there to avoid hundreds of thousands in extra taxes is a no-brainer, and if it doesn't work the first time, you can just keep trying. Wage slaves have the same right to appeal their assessments as Mitt Romney does, but they lack the resources to do so. How many people in San Diego County who were mere thousandaires or hundred-thousandaires thought their house assessment was too high, but lacked the resources to fight like this?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:03 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, La Jolla real estate plummeted a lot more than 7%.
posted by The World Famous at 3:12 PM on August 6, 2012


It certainly did, but there are plenty of underwater homeowners paying taxes on assessments they can't fight, along with mortgage payments they can't refinance.
posted by mek at 3:18 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Romneys argued that the value of their home fell 45% in the 7 months between purchasing the house and having it assessed.

I do think the assessment process can be very faulty (assessments are made by the same organization that benefits from a higher assessment), but I also think they're faulty in a way that people with money can more easily avoid than people without money (assessments are made with the expectation that people will have the money or time to dispute them).
posted by muddgirl at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So it seems that everyone agrees that property tax assessments are too high, but people are arguing that Romney shouldn't have fought it because few others did, even though it was unjust? Or because he should have somehow relished the privilege of paying extra taxes than his land was worth?

Am I reading this correctly?
posted by corb at 3:45 PM on August 6, 2012


I think the point is that the way our tax system is set up - on the federal, state, and local level - is such that fairness and justice are only available with those individuals who are wealthy enough to pay to enforce their rights. That's a legitimate point. In fact, it's one of the most important points that can be brought up in modern society.
posted by The World Famous at 3:48 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If justice is only available for a fee, there is no justice.
posted by The World Famous at 3:48 PM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, totally, but I tend to fall into the "then everyone should have justice" side of the scales rather than the "then no one should have justice." It is, admittedly, hard to ensure.
posted by corb at 4:06 PM on August 6, 2012


The argument is that Romney certainly isn't working for everyone to have justice. He has millions of dollars - at what point in his 2-year negotiation with the city of La Jolla did he, say, advocate for an overhaul of the California property tax system to make it easier for homeowners to negotiate their property values in a falling market? Or advocate for an intiative to repeal Prop 13 so that California cities and municipalities don't have to artificially prop up property values to pay for their essential services? Or some other solution than 'I got mine, you get your lawyer to get yours?"
posted by muddgirl at 4:10 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, if he had lobbied the State of California to overhaul the property tax system to make it easier to negotiate tax assessments in a falling market, his political opponents would now be beating him up by saying he used his wealth to try to disproportionately rob the state of revenue generated from the property taxes of the wealthy.
posted by The World Famous at 4:17 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's why I generously gave him a second option - arguing against an artificial cap on property taxes.
posted by muddgirl at 4:26 PM on August 6, 2012


It is, admittedly, hard to ensure.

Right, but if you are running for president you're supposed to pretend to try.
posted by mek at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2012


Obama Calls Romney a ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama Calls Romney a ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’

...Prince John?
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 5:56 PM on August 6, 2012


FYI IN Mitt's home state of Massachusetts there is a check box on the MA income Tax form. This check box was fought for by the Liberal Dems of MA who thought that a reduction in the MA income tax from 5.95% to 5.3% would be harmful to state mandated programs. And even though a state-wide refferandum approved even further reductions the Legislature stopped at 5.3 and offered the option to pay more if anyone chooses to do so. In all only 2000 people chose to pay the higher tax ( 2008 tax year). Not even Elizabeth Warren, Self-described fighter for paying a "fair share", chose this option.
posted by Gungho at 7:18 AM on August 7, 2012


Gungho: "And even though a state-wide refferandum [sic] approved even further reductions"

Uh, can I get a cite for that? Because I'm seeing something different on my internets.

Not even Elizabeth Warren, Self-described fighter for paying a "fair share", chose this option."

You don't ask the wealthy to pay more, you compel them to pay more. Warren would like to force everyone, including herself, to pay more. I don't see any problem with that.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 AM on August 7, 2012


And even though a state-wide refferandum approved even further reductions the Legislature stopped at 5.3 and offered the option to pay more if anyone chooses to do so. In all only 2000 people chose to pay the higher tax

I would see this as in insult to injury, almost an intelligence test if I was struggling to pay. I would save the money and give it to the opposing party instead if I thought it was important. It's very close the oft heard conservative retort about child labor and global warming and such, "Well don't use those products then if you don't agree with it, but don't tell me I can't."

On that note, I would comment that Romney is now running on his secrets, something that comes more naturally to man representing the goodwill of a church that has defended its secrets for generations. In this regard, Romney's almost a clone of George Bush Jr., but probably not a cocaine addict with a fake accent.
posted by Brian B. at 7:39 AM on August 7, 2012


Wow. A "demonstrate tragedy of the commons" checkbox is an awesomely foot shooty idea, congratulations whoever came up with that.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like the app, but the one thing that's offsetting is if you list yourself as filing jointly it says "average families" and then if you say you have children it changes it to "average families like yours". That's just weird. Not to mention the "like yours" remains whether you have 1, 2, or 3+ children. And it stays the same no matter what dollar amount you enter. So someone who makes 15-20k/year with kids is "an average family, like yours" and someone who makes 175k/year with kids is "an average family, like yours" but not married couples without children. Although I suppose technically some people don't consider couples families. Oh well.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:17 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, can I get a cite for that? Because I'm seeing something different on my internets.
You are correct. I totally forgot the vote to eliminate the income tax. I was referring to the 2000 question to lower the rate back to 5%
posted by Gungho at 8:24 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


How to save the Republican party from itself
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So here in MN we have two Constitutional amendments on the ballot this year because the party that last year (no joke) who's leaders where caught in adultery and gross financial mismanagement, you know the party of family values and fiscal responsibility, couldn't find another way to pass voter ID and marriage discrimination laws over the veto of the Gov...

Anyways... given this obnoxiousness, I've (semi-jokingly) thought that next time the DFL are in control they should pass a constitutional amendment question to go to referendum that would outlaw and disband the State level GOP. Done in the right year it'd probably stand a solid 50/50 chance of passing.
posted by edgeways at 2:35 PM on August 7, 2012


The argument is that Romney certainly isn't working for everyone to have justice. He has millions of dollars - at what point in his 2-year negotiation with the city of La Jolla did he, say, advocate for an overhaul of the California property tax system to make it easier for homeowners to negotiate their property values in a falling market? Or advocate for an intiative to repeal Prop 13 so that California cities and municipalities don't have to artificially prop up property values to pay for their essential services? Or some other solution than 'I got mine, you get your lawyer to get yours?"

Looking him up on campaignmoney, it appears he did donate to other Republican causes - which he may have felt was the most efficient way to ensure that property tax would become fair for everyone. Republicans do have a history of trying to lower property tax, while Democrats have a history of trying to raise it.

I think Romney (and I) would also strongly disagree as to what counts as "essential services" that California cities and munipalities need to pay for.
posted by corb at 6:52 PM on August 7, 2012


The Tax Return Mitt Romney Doesn't Want You to See
posted by homunculus at 9:59 AM on August 8, 2012


I think Romney (and I) would also strongly disagree as to what counts as "essential services" that California cities and munipalities need to pay for.

I don't think anyone can get a good handle on what exactly Romney actually does think about "essential services", or anything else. For example, his campaign just tacitly admitted that Romneycare is a good thing (you know, the basis for "Obamacare"?). I'd put forth a good wager that if you put the man in front of 5 different audiences on 5 different days and asked what counts as essential services you'd get at least three different answers.

Not sure how anyone actually thinks Romney is Conservative, or that one can take what comes out of his mouth at face value. Romney knows no ideological bounds except what will get him elected and even then three is a 50/50 chance he'll contradict himself within a week.

A liberal, a moderate and a conservative walk into a bar. The bartender says "Hey Mitt hows it going?"
posted by edgeways at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nuns Challenge Romney To Spend A Day With Them To Learn About Plight Of America’s Poor
posted by homunculus at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2012


Did Romney enable company's abusive tax shelter?

What emerges from this window into corporate tax compliance behavior is the picture of an executive who was willing to go to the edge, if not beyond, to bend the rules to seek an unfair advantage, and then hide behind the advice of so-called experts to deflect criticism when a scheme backfires.
posted by Brian B. at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do We Really Want a President Who Doesn't Kiss Rich Wall Street Ass?

Schmooze or Lose: Obama doesn’t like cozying up to billionaires. Could it cost him the election?
posted by homunculus at 4:33 PM on August 20, 2012


The Washington Post's editorial board calls Mitt's tax plan "garbage"
posted by Brian B. at 6:25 PM on August 20, 2012


Obama-Rama: Is the president an affirmative-action failure or a brainwashed agent of Kenyan rage? In a wave of books aimed at driving a stake through Obama’s political heart, the man himself is strangely absent. Plus, the hysteria being sold has a short shelf life.
posted by homunculus at 10:38 AM on August 22, 2012


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