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The Bain Files
August 23, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

"Gawker has obtained a large cache of confidential internal financial documents from more than 20 secretive hedge funds and other investment vehicles in which Mitt Romney has stashed his considerable wealth." Ongoing attempts to digest and analyze the dense contents are here.
posted by mkultra (153 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love it. Someone gave us all this and it seems important, but uh we don't know what most of it means.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:10 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You've got to wonder about the thought process here. Someone has access to all this stuff and thinks "who should I give this to?" and chooses Gawker? I wonder who they ruled out.
posted by yoink at 10:12 AM on August 23, 2012 [27 favorites]


Well, Assange is kind of busy...
posted by COBRA! at 10:13 AM on August 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


You've got to wonder about the thought process here. Someone has access to all this stuff and thinks "who should I give this to?" and chooses Gawker? I wonder who they ruled out.

I know, right. I'd be yelling to Check The Kerning, but then I doubt Gawker's reputation could actually be worse.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:15 AM on August 23, 2012


The Bain Files

Mendozaaaaaaaaaah!
posted by chavenet at 10:16 AM on August 23, 2012 [31 favorites]


I wonder who they ruled out.

The National Enquirer for one, probably. According to the files Mitt Romney is heavily invested in The Enquirer's parent company.

Myself, I wonder how many Bothans died to bring us this information.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:17 AM on August 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


Gawker's probably one of the few media outlets with enough liquid cash to pay someone serious dough for this stuff. I wouldn't assume leakers are always selfless.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:17 AM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or more charitably, enough cash for good legal defense. Also Gawker probably agreed to post this all immediately and do the analysis live.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:19 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Myself, I wonder how many Bothans died to bring us this information.

I wanna launch tiny x wings at Mitt's huge floating head.
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 AM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is there a mirror? As someone who builds systems which prepare internal financial documents for secretive hedge funds I'm pretty sure I could have a crack at deciphering them. That said unless its lists of actually investments and a list of clients, its probably pretty dull.
What would be fun is if its a dump of historical transactions you could scan them for obvious insider trading but bear in mind, if these are proper HFs Mitt isn't making the investment decisions. At best there may be some hypocrisy. If however they're purpose built SPVs to hide his wealth then this should be super happy funtimes.
posted by Damienmce at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wanna launch tiny x wings at Mitt's huge floating head.

FFG's X-Wing miniature game is available in september.
posted by Pendragon at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Each of the cover pages to each the documents contains a seemingly abstract shape. When cut out and properly arranged, the shapes unite to form a map of a location in Massachusetts.

When Sam Neill drives to the location in the map, he discovers a town that is seemingly constructed from the various statements and political positions of Mitt Romney. Nothing makes sense. Nothing has any solidity. Everything is in a dual state at all times: both here and there, near and far, up and down. Nobody smiles with their eyes. You can only travel by horseback or car elevator.

Sam Neill eventually tries to leave, which he is both allowed and forbidden to do. The version of him that remains is both happy and sad, free and oppressed. The version of him that escapes into this world struggles to explain what it is that had transpired in Romneyville, but he is accused of both hallucination and over-prevarication.

Eventually, he gives up and simply takes a role in the now-cancelled series Alcatraz, now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:25 AM on August 23, 2012 [87 favorites]


Gawker has a shitty reputation, sure, but at least you can depend on the fact that if they get an Angry Letter from a Powerful Attorney representing god-knows-who's Best Interests, chances are, Gawker will keep the content up and publish the letter rather than capitulate. This way, Gawker can serve as the source for the papers who would fold if they tried to break the story themselves.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on August 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


(NB: I know jack shit about journalism.)
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on August 23, 2012


Romney's retirement package in 1999 includes funds that weren't created until 2002 and 2008.
posted by mkultra at 10:27 AM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The choice to hand this stuff over to Gawker is pretty smart. Say the source handed copies of this out to reporters from big outlets. There's no guarantee anything would come of it. Now, however, the leak of the documents is the story, and the media is compelled to both cover the leak, and to analyze and report on the contents because there they are for the entire world to see, so they can't pretend they don't notice.
posted by dortmunder at 10:28 AM on August 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


10 million dollars? That's chump change to mittens. Wake me up when they add another zero onto the end there.
posted by freq at 10:29 AM on August 23, 2012


As much as I'm not always crazy about the brand, a Gawker-won Pulitzer Prize might be a good wake up call for 'real' journalists.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:29 AM on August 23, 2012 [27 favorites]


I love it, secretive hedge funds where he stashed his money. It is like they found a treasure map pointing to tin cans full of hudreds he buried one night while on an amphetamine binge.

Those are pretty boring financials for a bunch of private entities. From PWC so they might get in some trouble for this. I'm no accountant but it looks like standard US-GAAP.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2012


griphus: "an Angry Letter from a Powerful Attorney representing god-knows-who's Best Interests"

I think this is also a bit of a Catch-22. It reignites the "Why are you hiding this?" question if (when) they go after Gawker.
posted by mkultra at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2012


Romney's retirement package in 1999 includes funds that weren't created until 2002 and 2008.

This is the kind of bold, forward-thinking strategy that is the hallmark of a true leader!
posted by yoink at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Holy shit, these documents identify Jon Snow's real parents.
posted by brain_drain at 10:33 AM on August 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


Super Rich Guy hides money in various places so that he doesn't have to pay taxes on it? Color me shocked.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the belief that if we can JUST figure out where Romney's getting his money, it'll somehow be this magical key that lets us topple the entire Republican party. It's not going to work. We could find out that he only reports $50k/year and sends the rest into Swiss bank accounts, and the hyperconservatives would respect him for it. Because of this huge myth of bootstrapping. "I can't condemn Romney for trying to hide money from taxes because what if someday I'm as rich as him? If I'm ever as rich as Romney, then I don't want the government to take all my hard-earned money to give to the poor people who didn't work as hard."

To use a quote from another Gakwer site:
I have given this all of my fucks, and the fucks I have given are still not enough fucks. So many more fucks need to be given, and I have exhausted my fuck supply. The fucks are on backorder. Employees are working overtime to restock my fucks, but in the meantime, please accept this 10% off coupon while we wait for the fucks to arrive via FedEx. I'll be over here, drinking wine from a Pac Man mug and watching cartoons.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:33 AM on August 23, 2012 [53 favorites]


It is like they found a treasure map pointing to tin cans full of hundreds he buried one night while on an amphetamine binge.

I knew that night would come back to haunt me.
posted by Big_B at 10:34 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This document dump strategy is already paying off. Instant news.
posted by dortmunder at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is certainly not going to right the myriad wrongs of the ultra-rich and their takeover of society, but it has a shot at keeping one of them out of the Oval Office where he'd do everything he could to speed up the looting.

I don't have many fucks left to give myself, but I'll give one of them to that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Romney's retirement package in 1999 includes funds that weren't created until 2002 and 2008.

They could just funds created through an internal reorganization of the equity in fund equity included in his original 1999 retirement package. But who knows.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:38 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


it'll somehow be this magical key that lets us topple the entire Republican party.

I think if your bar for "is it worth doing" is going to be "will it topple the entire Republican party" you're going to be spending a lot of time in bed.
posted by yoink at 10:38 AM on August 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


CNN/Fortune: Gawker's Worthless 'Bain Files'
FORTUNE -- Gawker today published what it's calling The Bain Files, hundreds of pages of audited financials and private placement memoranda for old Bain Capital funds. Let me save you some time: There is nothing in there that will inform your opinion of Mitt Romney.

How do I know? Because I saw many of the exact same documents months ago, after requesting them from a Bain Capital investor. What I quickly learned that that there was virtually nothing of interest, except perhaps for private equity geeks learning exactly how much Bain paid for a particular company back in 2006. Sure I would have loved the pageviews, but not at the expense of tricking readers into clicking on something of so little value.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:39 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think if your bar for "is it worth doing" is going to be "will it topple the entire Republican party" you're going to be spending a lot of time in bed.

Is this a live boy/dead girl joke? I can't tell.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


virtually nothing of interest

"Virtually nothing" = "something"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I can't wait for it to come out that Gawker actually found the papers at a bar and tried to sell them bank to Bain before making them public.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:44 AM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sure I would have loved the pageviews, but not at the expense of tricking readers into clicking on something of so little value.

Readers? I love my readers!
posted by octobersurprise at 10:44 AM on August 23, 2012


So are these just documents that people are interested in because of the Mitt Romney connection or real hedge fund dirty laundry? My election boycott doesn't end until October, but reading about Wall Street secrets can be interesting.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:45 AM on August 23, 2012


See, there were nothing to the Swiftboating allegations either. And John McCain didn't have a secret affair with a black woman.

People seem to think that elections are so or lost by big Deep Throat like stories, but it's a million little cuts that usually the somebody in (Todd Akin notwithstanding)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:46 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


This might be the first good bit of journalism that Gawker has done.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:46 AM on August 23, 2012


I reckon Gawker wound up with them because no one else gave a shit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:46 AM on August 23, 2012


Sure I would have loved the pageviews, but not at the expense of tricking readers into clicking on something of so little value.

I'm picturing him as a "MOVE IT ALONG, NOTHING TO SEE HERE FOLKS" cop in front of some sort of gory crime scene.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Usually do somebody in
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:47 AM on August 23, 2012


yoink: "I think if your bar for "is it worth doing" is going to be "will it topple the entire Republican party" you're going to be spending a lot of time in bed."

A bit of exaggeration. But does anyone honestly think that one person who was going to vote for Romney is going to read this and go "ehh idunno, this guy seems kind of shady, I think I'll vote for the one who supports gay marriage instead"? The documents are worth releasing, if only for transparency in election finances/donations, but let's not kid ourselves that this will have any effect on the election itself (barring fraud or something that would declare Romney ineligible).
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:49 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


They could just funds created through an internal reorganization of the equity in fund equity included in his original 1999 retirement package. But who knows.

Yeah, I'm not seeing what's so terrible about this. Even if he had legitimately retired in 1999, there could be plenty of logical reasons for his retirement package to contain new funds. I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong about this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:49 AM on August 23, 2012


I am genuinely shocked




that Gawker might do some real journalism.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:50 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get the outrage over a presidential candidate moving money offshore to avoid US taxes. But I don't get the outrage over the money housed in various legal entities - the sensationalistic words like "hiding" and "labrynth" and "secretive". How do people think investments are made? You don't go to the top of the tallest building on wall street and toss money out into the air with the trust that the nice people will give it back (plus earnings) when the time comes.
posted by double bubble at 10:51 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am certainly not knowledgeable enough to know if anything in these papers is important or not, but the shootdown at CNNMoney that BobbyVan links to certainly twitches my bullshit meter a little.

The tone of the writer, Dan Primack, gives me the impression that he is sympathetic to tricks and games of the investor-class:

I get it. "Cayman Islands" is supposed to be code for tax avoidance or shady dealings. But the reality is that most private equity firms form Cayman-domiciled funds to accommodate investors based outside of the United States (particularly when those funds also are making some non-U.S. investments). One private equity fund formation attorney I spoke with says that the Caymans structure usually doesn't have real tax benefit for the non-U.S. investors, but that they nonetheless feel more comfortable. He added that, for most U.S. private equity executives, the Cayman structure has little to zero impact in terms of personal taxes.

Sure. Absolutely nothing fishy or beneficial to offshore companies in countries with strong privacy laws and very lax oversight. The flood of US businesses to these locations is unimportant, because the benefits are negligible. Right.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:53 AM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


yoink: "I think if your bar for "is it worth doing" is going to be "will it topple the entire Republican party" you're going to be spending a lot of time in bed."

Man, if only. Hasn't worked yet, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:53 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


double bubble: You don't go to the top of the tallest building on wall street and toss money out into the air with the trust that the nice people will give it back (plus earnings) when the time comes.

Uhoh, oh no... I think It Could Happen to You is responsible for a lot of my bad investments.
posted by gilrain at 10:53 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I can't condemn Romney for trying to hide money from taxes because what if someday I'm as rich as him? If I'm ever as rich as Romney, then I don't want the government to take all my hard-earned money to give to the poor people who didn't work as hard."

I had a Facebook Shitfight™ with a distant dyed-in-the-wool tea party in-law who pulled out ye olde "51% of people don't pay income tax" and I had to point out that after SS taxes, state taxes and other taxes they pay an effective rate of 16%. Then I pointed out Romney paid 13%.

"Good on him. He's done more than what god asks which is 10%."

This country is fucked. Thankfully I have a literal passport out of this place if need be.
posted by Talez at 10:55 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh and she doesn't give a shit about Medicare. Why? Because her husband is a retired marine and they're on Tricare.
posted by Talez at 10:56 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the belief that if we can JUST figure out where Romney's getting his money, it'll somehow be this magical key that lets us topple the entire Republican party. It's not going to work. We could find out that he only reports $50k/year and sends the rest into Swiss bank accounts, and the hyperconservatives would respect him for it. Because of this huge myth of bootstrapping. "I can't condemn Romney for trying to hide money from taxes because what if someday I'm as rich as him? If I'm ever as rich as Romney, then I don't want the government to take all my hard-earned money to give to the poor people who didn't work as hard."

The democrats don't want to topple the GOP with this line of attack (though that would be really awesome to see, admittedly), instead this attack is meant to drive independent and non-tea party types away from Mitt.

Even if they just cast a write in for a Paul/Palin ticket or decide not to vote at all, that's a win for the democrats come November. Oddly enough, between this and riling up your base of voters, there aren't a whole lot of other attack motivations.

If you really wanted to bring down the GOP, you'd have to catch them all being very corrupt on a very national scale and hope that all the major news orgs ex-Fox backed you. So, something like what this Rivera guy in Florida tried to pull, sending over $30K to a handpicked primary challenger for the democrat in the race in his district.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:56 AM on August 23, 2012


"Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money managers' embrace of those same policies."
Bingo!
posted by ericb at 10:59 AM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't think there is any there there but it certainly muddys the water as all that gobbldygook and leaks documents sure looks nefarious. So fuck it, someone leak his Netflix history next, if he has been watching R rated movies lets have a debate about it.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 AM on August 23, 2012


But does anyone honestly think that one person who was going to vote for Romney is going to read this and go "ehh idunno, this guy seems kind of shady, I think I'll vote for the one who supports gay marriage instead"?

Well, yeah, of course. Romney has clearly already been vulnerable to attacks on his Bain background (there's a reason he hardly refers to his history at Bain in his speeches now--when he had originally intended to make it a centerpiece of his campaign).

Now, this particular infodump is, at this point, of unproven value. Lots of people here, of course, are happy to simply assume it contains evidence of malfeasance because they already believe that Romney has committed malfeasance, so they don't much care about evidence. But if these documents end up showing anything genuinely shady (not necessarily illegal, but something that looks a lot like pushing the boundaries of acceptable tax avoidance into the grayer areas of tax evasion) then of course that would be a serious hit to Romney. In places like Ohio and PA, in particular, where Obama's hopes depend upon keeping just enough of blue-collar whites in the Democratic fold, and where those blue-collar whites are not very keen on Obama but equally resentful of Richy McRichperson playing fast and loose with his megamillions overseas, then anything approaching genuine malfeasance in these papers would be manna from heaven for the Obama campaign.

Personally, I sadly suspect that these papers will show nothing more than we already know perfectly well. I doubt R-money has done anything so utterly boneheaded as to actually break or bend any finance or tax laws with his investments. It helps eke out the "out-of-touch bazillionaire" narrative, but the CNN guy's take, above, is probably pretty accurate. Of course, I hope I'm wrong.
posted by yoink at 11:04 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agreed, I don't think there's some big gotcha in here, but a fair number of examples of the way the über-wealthy are able to avoid paying their fair share while asking the less well-off to pay more. I see this more as an indictment of our financial regulations than of Romney in particular.
posted by mkultra at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2012


The issue isn't legality. It's that (1) he's proposing imposing taxes on everybody that can't afford to find all the loopholes, and (2) he's basically paying much lower rates than the vast majority of middle and lower class Americans while making insanely more money.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:08 AM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


all the revelations about Romney's money, where it is hidden and kept etc comes down to but two items:

1. Is what he has done within the law? Legal?
2. Is he concealing his tax returns out of simply fear that he will be identified with the 1% and pays precious little money, and such a revelation might hurt his election chances.
posted by Postroad at 11:09 AM on August 23, 2012


So there's nothing major. It still doesn't make him look great. Even if it's another drop in the bucket, it's not positive and it helps get the word out about him pulling little sneaky tricks and lying about them. And there have been a lot of drops in that bucket, along with more significant issues such as complete disregard for consistency of message, etc.
posted by theredpen at 11:10 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The issue isn't legality. It's that (1) he's proposing imposing taxes on everybody that can't afford to find all the loopholes, and (2) he's basically paying much lower rates than the vast majority of middle and lower class Americans while making insanely more money.

Well sure. But we knew all of that before this Gawker infodump, didn't we? I'm saying that this infodump only becomes especially salient if it shows something more than we already knew--i.e. either actual lawbreaking (which would be a HUGE deal--almost certainly complete electoral death for Romney) or very aggressive law bending (i.e., something which you could get wise old money experts to come out and tsk tsk over saying "well, yeah, it's probably legal, but I would never advise any of MY clients to do that"): which would certainly be very helpful for Obama in swing states.
posted by yoink at 11:13 AM on August 23, 2012


Gawker dumps confidential Bain files: "CNN Money's Dan Primack argues that the Gawker dump doesn't matter: Nothing new here, smoke without fire, etc. He makes a reasonable argument. But documents like these are more useful on the public record than they are off. This isn't necessarily about finding 'fire.'"
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are all from PricewaterhouseCooper audits. Thousands of people have seen them including the hundreds of accountants that helped prepare them. These aren't the secret ledger. These are what they want people to see.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:17 AM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


This document dump strategy is already paying off. Instant news.

Romney fund bankrolled Adelson: A fund Romney invested in lent the GOP mega-donor $3 million, according to newly uncovered documents

Does this mean Sarah Silverman is going to have to scissor Romney too?
posted by homunculus at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, apart from legal issues, this also means Romney has to talk about Bain and taxes again. Every day he has to do that is one more day where his negatives are under the spotlight and one less day he has to talk up his positives (such as they are). IIRC polling has something like 1/3rd of voters whose opinion of him gets worse every time his taxes or Bain is a story in the news.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:25 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drip drip drip. Can someone keep the Bain taxes story in the news each week for the next 75 days? It's been a good team effort thus far.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:27 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let me know when Gawker leaks Obama's SAT/LSAT scores and college transcripts.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:29 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's an important leak from Obama's college days.
posted by homunculus at 11:31 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Drip drip drip. Can someone keep the Bain taxes story in the news each week for the next 75 days? It's been a good team effort thus far.

Yeah... no need to talk about substantive issues that actually matter such as the economy, the unemployment rate, etc.
posted by gyc at 11:33 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The issue isn't legality. It's that (1) he's proposing imposing taxes on everybody that can't afford to find all the loopholes, and (2) he's basically paying much lower rates than the vast majority of middle and lower class Americans while making insanely more money.

Exactly. Instead of "guns or butter" we are looking at "health care or dressage".
posted by deanklear at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2012


The transcript thing is the new Birtherism amongst the conservative set. I Give it exactly the same amount of credence.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, to be fair, the Romney campaign isn’t talking too much substance either. The whole “we did build this” theme of the convention came about when people were unable to comprehend two sentences that Obama said.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


A bit of exaggeration. But does anyone honestly think that one person who was going to vote for Romney is going to read this and go "ehh idunno, this guy seems kind of shady, I think I'll vote for the one who supports gay marriage instead"? The documents are worth releasing, if only for transparency in election finances/donations, but let's not kid ourselves that this will have any effect on the election itself (barring fraud or something that would declare Romney ineligible).

You would be surprised. You really, really would. It takes time, and it takes gentle persuasion, but when you keep adding things to the pile eventually some minds will shift.

I know because I have seen it in my father. He has been surrounded by 'liberal' and vocal voices in my mom, my brother and me for only the last 10 years or so (I was pretty apolitical as a teenager), but we love him and so we don't mistreat him when we bring these things up, and he's getting the exposure now to all of this that he might not have before.

It's taken him years to start really thinking about the issues that affect the people he loves (women) and even people he doesn't know (LBTQ people), let alone to change his opinion, but in some cases he has. I don't know yet if he's planning on voting for Romney but he has been more and more on the fence about the Republican party each year.

You can't force it. You can't berate people into changing their minds. It takes time and effort and patience but for the people whose minds you can change it is your best bet at making it work. You publicize what you can and you get the word out.

Just keep adding things to the pile. Not everyone jumps ship. But some people do.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Let me know when Gawker leaks Obama's SAT/LSAT scores and college transcripts.

Will do. I'll also let you know when Mitt releases his last decade of tax returns. Sit tight.
posted by cashman at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


See also
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:36 AM on August 23, 2012


I love that conservatives keep on claiming that Obama refuses to talk about the economy, yet ignore both every single campaign speech he makes as well as the idea that taxes are taking about the economy.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:38 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney's retirement package in 1999 includes funds that weren't created until 2002 and 2008.

Well, that settles it, he's got my vote. Guy's a motherfucking time traveler.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:46 AM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The tone of the writer, Dan Primack, gives me the impression that he is sympathetic to tricks and games of the investor-class:


Found this in Primack's bio:


Primack's daily column has become mandatory private market reading, and he has given keynote addresses at events hosted by organizations that include Merrill Lynch, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

Well, I read earlier today on Metafilter that there is little causation between speaking fees and sympathetic journalism so I'll assume that this is just another odd coincidence.
posted by any major dude at 11:49 AM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let me know when Gawker leaks Obama's SAT/LSAT scores and college transcripts.

Let's see. Professor of constitutional law, head of the Harvard Law Review... I think we can infer that Obama's LSAT scores were decent.
posted by jonp72 at 11:52 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


... It is like they found a treasure map pointing to tin cans full of hudreds he buried one night while on an amphetamine binge.
...
posted by Ad hominem at 10:30 AM on August 23 [+] [!]


E-Romney-sterical.
posted by chavenet at 11:56 AM on August 23, 2012


If Mitt Romney could find a way to use tax loopholes and shell corporations to pay $0 in taxes, I'm pretty sure he would do it. That strikes me as deeply unpatriotic.
posted by andoatnp at 11:59 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


gyc: "Yeah... no need to talk about substantive issues that actually matter such as the economy, the unemployment rate, etc."

The story of Romney's (lack of) taxes is very much about those things. It's about how the very wealthy suck money out of the economy and send it out of the country without re-investing it where it's needed, while working Americans struggle to make ends meet amidst dwindling social services.
posted by mkultra at 12:00 PM on August 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


On a quick review, if I understand it correctly these aren't exactly private leaked files. They're the operating documents and reports from various limited partnership investments that we already knew Romney invested in, from public sources. Those documents are typically given to all members of the LP, maybe 100+ investors in a typical private equity fund. My guess is Gawker just went and did some digging and research and turned up a lot of reports.

It's analogous to publishing the SEC filings of public companies or mutual funds. Only in this case, the investment vehicles are private and those documents are not readily available. The real question, as the CNN article says, is whether there's anything interesting in these investments. Some of them could be shady as hell but I'm guessing they'll mostly be very boring.

I'm still flabbergasted that Romney is bragging about how he paid "up to 13% of my income in taxes!" as if that were a lot.
posted by Nelson at 12:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guy's a motherfucking time traveler.
Primack: Yes, because his retirement package provided Romney with ownership positions in Bain funds raised for 10 years after he left the firm (plus the ability to co-invest his own money). This isn't breaking news (mentioned here, for example).
If Mitt Romney could find a way to use tax loopholes and shell corporations to pay $0 in taxes, I'm pretty sure he would do it. That strikes me as deeply unpatriotic.

While you imagine hypothetical scenarios, just remember that President Obama picked a guy who actually did cheat on his taxes as Treasury Secretary (putting him in charge of the IRS).
posted by BobbyVan at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Mitt Romney could find a way to use tax loopholes and shell corporations to pay $0 13% or less in taxes, I'm pretty sure he would do it. That strikes me as deeply unpatriotic.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2012


Let me know when Gawker leaks Obama's SAT/LSAT scores and college transcripts.

You must be dying to see Obama's REAL KENYAN BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

I'll be surprised if any of these documents reveal any illegal activity on Romney's part. I even doubt that they'll reveal any financial activity that isn't usually taken advantage of by many people as wealthy as Romney. What's impressive though, is watching Romney talk about "closing tax loopholes" while utilizing every tax dodge known to man.

OTOH, the speed of the denials does make you wonder if something's up.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regardless of Geithners tax problems (which are actually possibly accidental), Romney's tax rate is deliberate under his own admission. Is it legal? Sure. But its a tax dodge nonetheless. But feel free to defend making millions of dollars and paying lower rates than the average American, and having a tax plan that will only make that worse.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the belief that if we can JUST figure out where Romney's getting his money, it'll somehow be this magical key that lets us topple the entire Republican party.

You don't need to topple the party. Politics is a game of inches, of states, of districts even. 2% of the popular vote and you get the house too and can start getting some things done. That's the end game. You don't need to kill them off; you just need to beat them.

If you're giving up because you can't annihilate a political party, then good riddance. They're not trying to destroy you, they're trying to beat you, and they're damn good at using the system to do it.

A bit of exaggeration. But does anyone honestly think that one person who was going to vote for Romney is going to read this and go "ehh idunno, this guy seems kind of shady, I think I'll vote for the one who supports gay marriage instead"?

I think it's more of an exaggeration to suggest that not one person in the entire United States is willing to change their vote (or stay home) because they found out that the rumours about Mitt's finances are actually true. Volume and message control can and does have an effect on voters and repeatedly shouting "Mitt is out to screw you" is a pretty good way of making moderates or undecided voters just stay home.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The difference is that Geithner actually broke the law (and by signing IMF documents acknowledging that he was informed about the need to pay SS and Medicare taxes, loses the "accidental" defense).

Besides, show me someone, anyone, who deliberately pays more in taxes than absolutely necessary out of patriotism. Did Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren, both members of the one-percent, write checks to the Treasury to make up for the "Bush tax cuts" they oppose?
posted by BobbyVan at 12:25 PM on August 23, 2012


That still doesn't answer the point re Romney's tax plans and why paying so little might look bad.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:27 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, well, Geithner wasn't fit for the job primarily 'cause he's a Bankster Nova Criminal.

The tax problem should have eliminated him from the running, too.

Hey! Just like Mitt Romney!
posted by notyou at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


BobbyVan: I pay more tax than absolutely necessary. I've passed on certain tax breaks because I feel that my taking them would be a net negative to my community.
posted by introp at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


We Built Hid That
posted by scody at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Indeed, BobbyVan.

The true patriot would righteously spend millions to avoid paying Uncle Sam anything at all.
posted by notyou at 12:34 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The whole “we did build this” theme of the convention came about when people were unable to comprehend two sentences that Obama said.

RNC To Showcase ‘We Built This!’ Theme From a Stadium Mostly Financed By Public Taxpayer Dollars
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


The best part about this is that it's just basically sandbagging Romney — he (his campaign staff) has to waste time going through these documents and that impacts his ability to launch new attacks on Obama. I hate to horserace everything, but that looks like the current biggest impact even if there's nothing actually there.
posted by klangklangston at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


BobbyVan: I pay more tax than absolutely necessary. I've passed on certain tax breaks...
Me too.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan: "Besides, show me someone, anyone, who deliberately pays more in taxes than absolutely necessary out of patriotism. Did Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren, both members of the one-percent, write checks to the Treasury to make up for the "Bush tax cuts" they oppose?"

Seriously? You're seriously arguing that reductions in tax rates are equivalent to exploitable loopholes?

And for the record, I do my own taxes. One year I went to an accountant, who applied a whole lot of hand-wavy deductions that he said "everyone used", even though they set off red flag after red flag in my head. I went back to doing my own.

Could I pay fewer taxes? Probably, if I really felt like dicking over the system for my own benefit, but I don't. Yeah, I actually do consider paying taxes to be patriotic.
posted by mkultra at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


"We're in yer news cycle, killin' yer groove."
posted by notyou at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2012


show me someone, anyone, who deliberately pays more in taxes than absolutely necessary out of patriotism

This most excellent woman -- she wrote a mildly popular fantasy series -- is on record as not going out of her way to take advantage of tax schemes because she feels she owes it to her country and its citizens.

Different country, I know, but I took your italicized "anyone" at face value.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


"And the document release also shines a light on Romney's indirect investments, through Sankaty, in companies that may not exactly jive with his squeaky clean Mormon image. In addition to Las Vegas Sands, the fund also lent money to American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer, as well as other gambling-related businesses and a cigarette company.

The Mormon church opposes gambling, including lotteries, and encourages others to join the church in 'opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of any form of gambling,' according to its website. The church also offers programs to help its members quit smoking."*
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


That still doesn't answer the point re Romney's tax plans and why paying so little might look bad.

Are you referring to the fact that Romney's tax plan does not change the tax treatment for carried interest (which has been in place since the 1970s)? Do you realize that when you tax more of something, you get less of it? So if we start taxing investments at higher rates, you'll probably get fewer investments. How is it possibly a good thing to discourage investment?

BobbyVan: I pay more tax than absolutely necessary. I've passed on certain tax breaks because I feel that my taking them would be a net negative to my community.

Can you humor me with specifics? I'm just a little incredulous at the idea that an individual would pass up a legal tax benefit. I'm also surprised at the notion that people think the government will spend that marginal dollar in a more wise and just manner.

The JK Rowling example gave me a chuckle, because from what I can tell, she simply decided not to flee the UK.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2012


And here's the thing about Obama and Warren. If you wanted to know if they paid extra in taxes during the period of life they are being evaluared on, you can do that, because those are available. They also show them paying rates more in line with the money they earned. Romney can't say the same.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:51 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren, both members of the one-percent, write checks to the Treasury to make up for the "Bush tax cuts" they oppose?

I'm no fan of Obama, but even I see through this as a dodge to questions about tax evasion that cloud Romney. It is certainly in the public interest to know if voting for Romney means that Americans are voting against their common interests, like roads, schools, emergency services, bridges that don't collapse, and all the other things that taxes pay for, which — as horrible as they are — do more to keep the country running than self-described "job creators" who move their money overseas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:52 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, more his reduction/elimination of corporate taxes and massive cuts in high income.marginal tax rates.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:53 PM on August 23, 2012


One year I went to an accountant, who applied a whole lot of hand-wavy deductions that he said "everyone used", even though they set off red flag after red flag in my head. I went back to doing my own.

Even I, in the most humble way, have refused to take certain tax deductions because they felt like cheating to me. I would be willing to bet that a good percentage of Americans feel the same way. Sure, we've all heard about the bizarre tax deductions that businessmen have had available to them-- remember the tax break for buying a humvee-- but that doesn't mean we admire them for taking advantage of these tax loopholes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:54 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm also surprised at the notion that people think the government will spend that marginal dollar in a more wise and just manner.

More "wise and just" than who? I don't know that the government would spend that marginal dollar "in a more wise and just manner." But I don't know that they wouldn't, either. I think that's an assertion you're going to have to prove.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:55 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, more his reduction/elimination of corporate taxes and massive cuts in high income marginal tax rates.

Raising either of those would not have much bearing on Romney's personal tax rate.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:00 PM on August 23, 2012


BobbyVan: "Do you realize that when you tax more of something, you get less of it? So if we start taxing investments at higher rates, you'll probably get fewer investments. How is it possibly a good thing to discourage investment? "

This argument is complete hogwash.

Let's say, broadly, that my $1000 investment earns 10% and nets me $1100. A 10% capital gains tax takes away $10 of my $100 profit, leaving me with $1090. If that capital gains tax goes up to 20%, I walk away with $1080.

The horror! I'm so angry that I'm not going to invest that $1000, because I'd rather have $1000 than $1080! The horror!
posted by mkultra at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


BobbyVan, this kind of news story forces Republicans to do exactly what you are doing: "But, but, it's legal! Who wouldn't do this?" And that is what the Democrats are going to hang around Romney's neck this year, because most people think it is unjust and unfair, legal or not. And while I don't see politicians from either party making much real effort to fix our tax code, the perception that rich Republicans have stacked the deck at everyone else's expense is very real and growing. And every time Romney and Republicans defend the status quo, especially while pushing to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, it scores points for Democrats. Romney is in a Catch-22: Release your returns, and every news story is about how the deck is stacked, or don't release them, and open yourself up to speculation that what you've done is even worse than the piddly 13% you've owned up to.
The equivalence you are trying to make: "Do you pay more than you absolutely need to?" won't fly either, because you are asking people who make in a year what Romney makes in a day whether they think they are gaming the system as well. And the answer is "No, we really don't. The tax code wasn't written with our interests in mind."
posted by Killick at 1:03 PM on August 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Are you intentionally ignorinG me also talking about his tax plans? Because that's just another dodge.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2012


No, but you conflated Romney's tax plans with his personal tax rate, and said you were specifically talking about cuts in marginal income rates and cuts in corporate taxes -- neither of which have much impact on Romney's personal rate. So I'm a little confused about your point.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:09 PM on August 23, 2012


Considering that you specifically mention his tax plan, I doubt it.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:12 PM on August 23, 2012


"Are you referring to the fact that Romney's tax plan does not change the tax treatment for carried interest (which has been in place since the 1970s)? Do you realize that when you tax more of something, you get less of it? So if we start taxing investments at higher rates, you'll probably get fewer investments. How is it possibly a good thing to discourage investment? "

Well, just to knock down that little canard, it can be a good thing if it raises more than it discourages and allows that money to be put to public investments like infrastructure that we all benefit from — even the rich guys. So instead of looking at it from a reductive, binary way, it might be handy to ask yourself what the trade-off is and how much of a trade off it is.
posted by klangklangston at 1:15 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Besides, show me someone, anyone, who deliberately pays more in taxes than absolutely necessary out of patriotism.

Please see the Gifts to the United States fund, in existence since 1843.

Does anyone use it? Absolutely.

In 2010, Americans contributed $316m directly to the government, with the largest chunk going to scientific and medical research organisations.

If you don't want to explicitely donate, here is how you can maximaize your taxes:

As long as taxpayers properly report all income and accurately list the identifying details required on their tax forms, there are countless ways they can maximize their taxes and prove their patriotism.

Here are just a few:

Don't deduct charitable contributions.
Claim fewer business expenses.
Better still, forget itemizing altogether.
Even low income people who generally pay no taxes can do their patriotic duty by foregoing the Earned Income Credit

posted by triggerfinger at 1:16 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Besides, show me someone, anyone, who deliberately pays more in taxes than absolutely necessary out of patriotism.

The point isn't that he's a bad person for trying to pay less tax. Everyone wants to pay less tax.

The point is that liberals are trying to hold him up as an example of how our system allows and encourages the ultra wealthy to pay absurdly low tax rates without even having to break any laws.

The fact that Romney pays 13% tax legally is the story.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:32 PM on August 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think we may have found something truly scandalous already. Jesus, Guitar Center?!
posted by Cash4Lead at 1:33 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus, Guitar Center?!

What, like you've never cheated on your taxes?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on August 23, 2012


Do you realize that when you tax more of something, you get less of it?

Wait a minute... Does this mean that if we tax poor people, there'll be less poor people? By Jove, I think BobbyVan has just solved poverty.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:38 PM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Shopping at Guitar Center is worse.
posted by spitbull at 1:39 PM on August 23, 2012


BobbyVan, not going out of the way to avoid tax is kinda like donating to charity.

I don't mean it IS charity, but it scratches a similar itch. Governments do a lot of good work (medicaid, schools and public research, to name three of the top of my head), and taxes support that.

A major complaint against the rich is that they benefit from all these charitable/public good things that governments do, then go out of their way to defund that very system (paying thinktanks to support tax breaks, legally evading taxes, etc). They are stealing services and the government money that funds them, in the same kinda/sorta way that paying taxes is donating to charities.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 1:39 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just a little incredulous at the idea that an individual would pass up a legal tax benefit.

I don't claim tax benefits on my charitable donations, because it's important to me that those donations remain as anonymous as possible. More to the point, even though I left the United States more than 10 years ago in no small part because of despair over the politics and culture of the country (a despair that the intervening years have done nothing to diminish) I still pay my US taxes proudly every year because I continue to see the government as "us" rather than "them". The arrant hypocrisy of Romney, who seeks public office despite clearly feeling the opposite, is infuriating to me, and the fact his strenuous efforts at tax avoidance are seen as the obviously correct course of action by his numerous defenders is a poignant reminder of why I am unlikely ever to live in the US again.
posted by muhonnin at 1:44 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


One year I went to an accountant, who applied a whole lot of hand-wavy deductions that he said "everyone used", even though they set off red flag after red flag in my head. I went back to doing my own.

I've experienced this also, at a mega-conservative super-patriotic (flags and eagles n stuff) tax place:

"Let's say you give X dollars to your church every week"
"But I don't go to church"
"Well let's say you do, and we put that amount right here..."
"But I think this is kinda dishonest"
"Well look at how much I just saved you. Still feel dishonest?"
"Yes. You can stop now, I'll do them myself"

I am not kidding you that is exactly what happened.
posted by Big_B at 1:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


Jesus, Guitar Center?!

Sure, like you've never paid someone to accompany you on "America the Beautiful."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:56 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Let's say you give X dollars to your church every week"
"But I don't go to church"
"Well let's say you do, and we put that amount right here..."
"But I think this is kinda dishonest"
"Well look at how much I just saved you. Still feel dishonest?"
"Yes. You can stop now, I'll do them myself"


Ha! I had something similar happen to me at a (chain) tax preparation service about 10 or 12 years ago. They were incredulous that I refused to lie and take a fairly red-flaggy deduction for donating to a fictional church ("I'm an atheist" resulted in a brief twitch, followed by the suggestion, "so you can say it's your atheist church"). The point at which I decided just to do my damn taxes myself was when I had to argue with them (more than once) that yes, there really IS a deduction to take for medical expenses over a certain percentage relative to your income, and that yes, I would like to take that deduction instead.
posted by scody at 2:00 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Inside Mitt Romney’s Bain Files -- "In a massive document dump, Gawker has published 950 pages of confidential files related to Mitt Romney’s finances. Alex Klein on what’s notable in the cache—and what to ignore."
posted by ericb at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also surprised at the notion that people think the government will spend that marginal dollar in a more wise and just manner.

Do the elderly and poor have worse health because of Medicare and Medicaid? Are minorities worse off because of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts? Were more women assaulted by partners because of the Violence Against Women Act? Is there less income equality and wage reduction thanks to increased restrictions on unions? Are retirees worse off because of Social Security? Did automotive commerce suffer because of increased highway spending? Are there higher rates of injury and death because of safety regulations than before they were implemented?

I could go on and on, but suffice to say that if you can answer yes to every single one of those questions (and many more), backed up with copious evidence from numerous non/bipartisan sources, you're welcome to share it. Otherwise, it's less "surprise" and more "misinformed," either by moral choice or not.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:17 PM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think BobbyVan is being disingenuous. Nothing the Obama's or Elizabeth Warren did in any way approaches the effort Romney invested in avoiding taxes, with account in Bermuda, Switzerland, the Caymans. SPVs, swaps - what is this I don't even. Your average tea-party member barely knows that this stuff exists.
posted by newdaddy at 2:18 PM on August 23, 2012


If I had enough money to pay for an accountant who could save me money on my taxes, I would. But their rates aren't progressive - they charge me just as much as they charge Romney. I assume that accountants and financial managers cost more than the tax savings I would enjoy from their work. Romney may not have fled the country (just like Rowling), but his money sure did. He can afford to move his money to places where it will be taxed the least. Few people can. It's not a choice that only that smart Romney guy made, it's another financial privilege that only he could afford.
posted by one_bean at 2:20 PM on August 23, 2012


I'm also surprised at the notion that people think the government will spend that marginal dollar in a more wise and just manner.

How do you propose we pay for the military, justice system, veteran's healthcare, and infrastructure. Through donations? Fully privatize everything? Shouldn't any prospective president show he has held his wait and paid his fair share as a U.S. citizen?
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:24 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The JK Rowling example gave me a chuckle, because from what I can tell, she simply decided not to flee the UK.

Well, I'm glad to have brought a smile to your face today, if nothing else. :-)

But don't Rowling's reasons for not doing as much as she can to legally avoid paying a full tax -- thereby deliberately paying more than is absolutely necessary -- pretty much fall squarely within the bounds for the definition of patriotism?
I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain's; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating expats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.

"A second reason was that I am indebted to the welfare state... When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major, was there to break the fall."
And she had plenty of examples of gazillionaire folks from the UK doing what they could to avoid Taxman if she had been inclined to do so.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:29 PM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


You must be dying to see Obama's REAL KENYAN BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

No. I am dying to see the academic transcripts. We had them for McCain in 2008 and both candidates in 2004, 2000, 1996, and 1992. (and possibly a few before) I do not know why the records from Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard are something that I will see only after we discover what happened to Judge Crater.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:36 PM on August 23, 2012


Game of Thrones party hard
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:41 PM on August 23, 2012


In other Bain news: 'I'm sick to my stomach': anger grows in Illinois at Bain's latest outsourcing plan

Sensata Employees, Joined By Rep. Jan Schakowksy, Call On Bain To Stop Outsourcing Their Jobs
posted by homunculus at 2:46 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you referring to the fact that Romney's tax plan does not change the tax treatment for carried interest (which has been in place since the 1970s)? Do you realize that when you tax more of something, you get less of it? So if we start taxing investments at higher rates, you'll probably get fewer investments. How is it possibly a good thing to discourage investment?

You don't understand what "carried interest" means or understand what the arguments for an against taxing it as cap gains or income is. It has nothing to do with changing the rate of taxation on capital gains
posted by JPD at 2:47 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also - absolutely fine to focus on Romney's tax return. I actually don't think he's doing much that is out of the ordinary for someone like him. Including all the Caymens entities - as the owner of the GP he basically has to have offshore entities to permit him to have clients who are non-US based or tax exempt US based.

What I find crazy is the argument that running Bain somehow qualifies him for the presidency. I guess its not easy to get that across to people, but really Bain is basically "S&P 500 + a few turns of leverage" in terms of performance. He did nothing special other than figure out a way to get crazy rich.
posted by JPD at 2:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also I sort of surprised that Romney goes the Fund of Funds route. Pretty pricey way to own HF's. I'd think given his stature almost anyone would open up for him if he asked.

(also -yes someone is going to be freaking out about some of these docs being in the public domain)
posted by JPD at 2:56 PM on August 23, 2012


No. I am dying to see the academic transcripts. We had them for McCain in 2008 and both candidates in 2004, 2000, 1996, and 1992.

I'm sure you accidentally left out the fact that almost none of them were released but were leaked instead, just like it's also totally accidental that you're not holding Romney (who attended at least one of the same institutions) to the same standards:
Though it’s difficult to say when the illicit publication of politicians’ school records first became a thing, it’s undeniable who lent it a sense of respectability: Jane Mayer, at The New Yorker. In 1999, under a byline shared with Alexandra Robbins (author of The Secrets of the Tomb), Mayer published and dissected the Yale transcript of George W. Bush, who was at that point not even the Republican nominee.

That article, a Talk piece called “Dept. of Aptitude: How George W. made the grade,” is remarkable for what it leaves out, like how the transcript “found its way” to The New Yorker, or why several Yale students were twice able to access Bush’s “confidential records.” (And then there’s Ms. Robbins’s mysterious half-byline—which, by itself or otherwise, never appeared again in The New Yorker.)

A few months later, The Washington Post published a comprehensive account of Al Gore’s underwhelming academic performance, including his grades, from high school (at St. Alban’s) through Harvard and graduate school at Vanderbilt. Likewise, the Post didn’t disclose how it obtained Gore’s records.

Most presidential nominees (at least of late) do not release their grades from college. Romney hasn’t. John McCain disclosed his class rank in 2007, but not his grades. John Kerry made his Yale transcript public only after he lost the 2004 election. Sarah Palin didn’t talk about her grades until after the 2008 election. One exception is Joe Biden, who released his undergraduate transcript in 1987 as a form of damage control. We’re not sure if that counts.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:58 PM on August 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Bonus: Bush refused to release his transcripts, despite the fact that some at Yale thought there were irregularities.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:09 PM on August 23, 2012


To keep it sraight.
McConnell said he spoke to someone in the know who said that some years Romney paid zero federal income tax.
Romney responded saying he paid at least 13% taxes per year. He didn't say income tax (Massachussetts would be 5.5% on incomes as high as his.) If he counts other taxes, I'm guessing he didn't pay any federal income tax.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:25 PM on August 23, 2012


specialagentwebb: "To use a quote from another Gakwer site:
I have given this all of my fucks, and the fucks I have given are still not enough fucks. So many more fucks need to be given, and I have exhausted my fuck supply. The fucks are on backorder. Employees are working overtime to restock my fucks, but in the meantime, please accept this 10% off coupon while we wait for the fucks to arrive via FedEx. I'll be over here, drinking wine from a Pac Man mug and watching cartoons."
I wonder if we could use the phrase "fucked out" in the sense of "I'm all out of fucks to give... Completely fucked the fuck out". Seriously, I kinda like that... Has that ever been used before? If not, I get dibs on the credit :P
posted by symbioid at 3:26 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite part about presidential college transcripts was how it turned out that Dubya had done marginally better than Kerry at Yale.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2012


Kettle calling pot black?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2012


[Folks, maybe be a little mindful about spoilers for unrelated TV shows in this thread, please?]
posted by jessamyn at 6:02 PM on August 23, 2012


National Review: missing the point since 1955.
posted by newdaddy at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2012


If you're interested in the practicalities of how one goes about creating offshore companies and accounts, the NPR podcast Planet Money recently did an episode about it. It's an interesting and bizarre world.
posted by aka burlap at 9:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Per Guardian:

Bain Capital created an investment company in Caymans for Romney that invested in a Bain-Capital fund that, through a"management fee" of € 65 million, is connected to a Luxembourg-based holding entity that owns a company that the 100% owner of manufacturer Ideal Standards International, which also owns Armitage Shanks... which makes toilets in Britain.

Also, as noted above, a Romney investment holding lent $3m to an Adelson venture, for which Adelson seems to have repaid by "investing" US$ 70m into SuperPAC's supporting Romney.

Finally, note that (again from Guardian) "it details investments that may account for only a mere $10m of Romney's estimated $250m in assets, and described just 21 of the hedge funds, vehicles and partnerships that Romney uses." In short, "It's almost as if Romney needs to make a financial disclaimer for every policy position he takes"

Romney's economic plan, incidentally, is so vague that The Economist, which has otherwise been getting boners for Romney and his MBA/consulting background so far, has, in today's issue, compared it to "Fifty Shades of Grey without the sex".

Here's my take on this: Now, I do philosophically understand that when you have $250m to invest, your money does tend to end up in all sorts of places. The point, though, is this: isn't that a bad thing for a head of state? From a non-American point of view, if Romney does indeed get elected as the American president, surely, American foreign policy will have to be evaluated in terms of his personal gain; indeed, even such innocuous things as American aid for sanitation in urban India or sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, will suddenly be suspect.
posted by the cydonian at 11:53 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much does he have invested in real estate, around Independence, Missouri? The Mormons want to make that the new capital. This ain't just another rich guy. He's a crazy religious rich guy.
posted by Goofyy at 5:33 AM on August 24, 2012


Sankaty owning 3 mil in bonds associated with Adelson given their relative sizes as investor and issuer in that market is probably more notable for its small size actually. To say it represents some sort of quid pro quo arrangement is just silly.
posted by JPD at 6:56 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney Tax Returns May Have Employed Legally Dubious Maneuvers, Tax Experts Say.
posted by ericb at 11:25 AM on August 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"This is a good point: Robots don't have birth certificates."
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on August 24, 2012


I'm going to start sounding like a Romney apologist here, and I guess in respect to certain things I am.

WRT to the use of equity total return swaps - 1) This was not a strategy specific to Bain, its basically endemic to the entire HF world 2) Romney had no role in using them, indeed he probably would not have been able to opt out of their use as they were part of a pooled investment vehicle. Also total return swaps are used to avoid stamp duties. 3) The decision to use Swaps was probably made way down the chain of command and was something these funds very much mainstream lawyers would if not encouraged them to do, at least explicitly signed off on them. Up until 2010 it was widely assumed that they were legal.

The converting fees into cap gains thing tho - sounds shady, but I'm not really familiar with the tax setups of the private equity world.
posted by JPD at 1:46 PM on August 24, 2012


Gawker’s Romney Files: Seven Takeaways
posted by homunculus at 10:09 AM on August 26, 2012


Is tithing what Romney’s hiding in his tax returns?
posted by homunculus at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2012


Penny Arcade comments on the race in gamer terms
posted by zombieflanders at 6:38 AM on August 27, 2012


Wonkette has produced an excellent two part breakdown of the Gawker / Bain files.
posted by j03 at 6:52 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will do. I'll also let you know when Mitt releases his last decade of tax returns. Sit tight.

Sitting tight.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:05 PM on September 21, 2012


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