Tag Archives: Romney

New Tax Burden: Pay For The Rich!

 

The Brookings Institution has analyzed the new tax system overhaul that Mitt Romney has proposed and concluded that it would give big tax cuts to high-income households and increase the tax burden for middle- and lower-income households

Because Romney has yet to propose an actual tax plan, the researchers modeled a revenue-neutral income tax change that incorporates some of Mr. Romney’s proposals, which include lowering marginal tax rates, eliminating both the alternative minimum tax and taxation of investment income of most taxpayers, eliminating the estate tax and repealing the additional high-income taxes passed with the Affordable Care Act.

All by themselves, these cuts to personal income and estate taxes would reduce total tax revenue by $360 billion in 2015 relative to what is expected of current policy, according to the Brookings scholars.

Mr. Romney has said that his plan will include offsets to the revenue losses from his proposed lower tax rates, although he has not specified what kinds of policies would offset those cuts (that is, how he would come up with an additional $360 billion to offset the lost $360 billion in tax revenue).

Ann thinks this is funny.

The Brookings analysis assumes that those offsets would be achieved chiefly through reducing or altogether eliminating other tax breaks — like the mortgage interest tax deduction or the child tax credit — and does not factor in spending cuts as a means to offset lost tax revenue.

But even if all possible loopholes for households earning more than $200,000 were eliminated, this group would still be a net gainer under Mr. Romney’s plan, since the marginal tax rate decreases and other changes lop off so much of its tax burden.

As a result, middle- and lower-income households — the 95 percent of the population earning less than about $200,000 annually — would have to make up the difference.

“It is not possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that does not reduce average tax burdens and the share of taxes paid by high-income taxpayers under the conditions described above, even when we try to make the plan as progressive as possible,” write the study’s authors, Samuel Brown, William Gale and Adam Looney.

If the elimination of tax breaks starts with those affecting the top earners, the authors estimate, those earning under $200,000 a year will see their cash income fall by about 1.2 percent, as shown in the chart below. The very top earners — those earning more than $1 million a year — will by contrast see their cash income rise by 4.1 percent.

This analysis assumes that base-broadening -- eliminate of tax expenditures -- occurs “starting at the top” so that tax preferences are reduced or eliminated first for high-income taxpayers in order to make the resulting plan as progressive as possible.

This analysis assumes that base-broadening — elimination of tax expenditures — occurs “starting at the top” so that tax preferences are reduced or eliminated first for high-income taxpayers to make the resulting plan as progressive as possible.

Mitt Romney looked out the window as he chatted with the traveling press corps aboard his campaign's charter plane on Monday.

And still, all of the guys in the top 2-3% make out, while the rest of us get screwed as usual. Don’t vote for Mitt. Please.

 

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Obama vs. Romney.

This time around, there is no great black hope, no chanting, “yes, we can.”, no Black-eyed Peas reminding us that the future can be different, if we are willing to elect a reasonable man or woman to the highest office in the land.

This time around, we have seen what 3+ years of a reasonable man can do in that office, and we are deflated, depressed and disenfranchised even further than we were under eight years of the Bush presidency. How could that be even possible?

Did we really just witness 3+ years of congress doing imitations of the ultimate fighting championships, promoted to kill any legislation that Obama was behind, just because he was behind it, regardless of its impact on the American people? Really? I thought the Clinton years were brutal, but those were kindergarten neener-neener nasty compared to this. And, they even included an impeachment.

I really can’t take any more of this. Even the thought of voting for Romney is crazy. Is that what people want? Back to No future III? The Bush years revisited, but with a Republican congress? You like this quarter’s jobs report? You’ll LOVE it under Romney. You like the state of housing? Romney will give you a boner. You like the cost of health care? Romney will make it even higher. You like social programs for those who are in trouble? Forget about it. You like rich guys being protected by the government and helped to get even richer? You will be in heaven.

Do we need to be reminded that our current predicament is the result of eight years of Bush policies? Really?

Deficit spending: higher under George Bush. Military spending: higher under George Bush. National Debt: higher under George Bush. Government employment: higher under George Bush. Pace of the increase in National debt: higher under George Bush. Authorization for  the biggest government handout in history: George Bush.

When Obama took office, the first thing he got to witness was the implementation of the most poorly thought out policy dictate in American history, an $887 billion bailout of the nation’s banks. Obama didn’t get a vote in this. It just was. And, guess what? It wasn’t enough. We needed to bail them out some more. Then, the banks hunkered down and we haven’t seen them since (except when trading derivatives and disclosing over-exposures to European trading partners). Credit? HA! You want credit? You get Yogi Berra credit. You can have all you want as long as you don’t need it. If you need it, you can’t have it.

Then the housing market crashed, but banks didn’t like the way they filled out those pesky loan documents, so they sort of delayed full disclosure on their exposures. Now, we all see their exposures and nobody likes it, especially the banks. Obama said, “Shouldn’t the banks be held to some accountability if we are going to keep them afloat?”, and congress laughed. That boy clearly doesn’t understand how the game is played, does he?

He tried to close Guantanamo like he promised, but congress said, “Hell no, boy. Don’t you understand people don’t want those ‘ragheads’ in their neighborhood prisons?” as if someone actually asked anybody what they wanted? Nope – not how it’s done.

He authorized a (relatively) small bailout for the auto industry and guess what happened? The industry is stronger now than it has ever been, and they all paid their loans back well before they were due. Detroit has jobs now. People are working in the auto industry again. Did you know that? Probably not, because Obama’s message seems to get drowned out in the air waves, or nobody seems to remember how bad it was, just 3 years ago. Or, how scary.

I think, based upon looking at the polls, people don’t remember anything that happened yesterday. This country polls hugely (above 65%) in favor of every component of what is now known as Obamacare, yet when asked whether they approve of Obamacare itself, they poll negative. How can that be? Oh, that’s right. The Kardashian’s are making $40 million a year and have renewed their insane reality show for another five years. Now, it all makes sense.

Obama tries to take credit for ridding the planet of the most dangerous terrorist that ever lived and people pretty much yawn.

What have you done for us lately, I guess? Seemed like a pretty big deal when Bush was in office. Whatever.

Jobs? Obama has clearly failed to create any new ones. But, when he actually does something to try and create new ones, he gets shot down in congress. The JOBS act struggled to get out of a Democratic controlled Senate with major revisions and is now stalled out in the SEC during implementation over petty issues surrounding accreditation of lenders. Come’ on, man! Is this what you people want?

How about at least prosecuting the ‘criminal’ banks? Are you kidding me? Not one banker does any jail time, yet they all played a major part in taking down the world’s financial system as we knew it, and it will probably get much worse. Instead, his AG gets rung up on contempt of congress on some nonsensical ATF screw-up that no one cares about, least of all the guys still looking for work in their 24th month of unemployment.

I mean really. This is what congress focuses on? This is way worse than re-arranging deck chairs while the Titanic sinks.

A couple of inherited wars? Obama ended one and has begun to end the other, meanwhile avoiding the “crazies” in Iran and their brinkmanship. Silly people; they want their own nuclear bomb just like the big guys. Where do they get off? Israel? The peace process grinds along and Obama has done as much or as little to placate all sides as anyone before him, while trying to keep the Israelis in a state of reason.  But, no way is Obama a tough war president like Bush or that Romney guy, both of whom are delighted to send our young men and women into harm’s way, particularly if there is oil or other stuff we want. National security, you know.

Health care? Never mind that he risked almost all of his political capital to usher in the most revolutionary health care reform bill in history, and the people LOVED it (see above), but he also frightened the living skittles out of the insurance companies and lobbyists at the same time. How many times has your health insurance premiums gone up in the last twelve months? There is a reason for that, and yes, we are on the path to a single payer health plan … unless, of course Romney gets elected. In that case, Obamacare will be overturned (though it will be interesting to see how he actually does this) and 33 million Americans can return to having no health care, along with all of the college students now on their parent’s plans for a few more years. Pre-existing conditions? Forgetaboutit.

And then there’s the economy. Give me a break. If this election is won or lost based on the economy, Obama is history. The economy is lousy now, hasn’t improved in the slightest in the last 4 years, and is about to get really bad. The only thing we can be sure of is that we are hopelessly overexposed to Europe, the European bankers are even bigger liars than our own bankers, and when the sizzle finally hits the fan, the US banks and the US economy will be a disaster. The recent jobs report will look the same or worse for the rest of the year. Housing hasn’t budged and won’t, except to fall even further. All of that, we can be sure of.

But, the election shouldn’t be won or lost based on the economy. Generally reasonable people should conclude that no one individual, especially the president of the US, can actually do anything to alter this course, and that many complex factors must resolve themselves before any of this can begin moving in the right direction. Factors that rely on individuals at the levers of power to do things that are in the interests of the general well-being of mankind, as opposed to their own private interests.

Fixing this mess will require that the Fed and Treasury break some rules and force bankers to do truly radical things like forgiving all of the bad mortgage debt, for openers. Stop collecting bad debts. Open their credit drawers to small businesses and returning vets and people who used to have good credit. In other words, pitch in and help.

Our current situation is in many ways, reminiscent of World War II. A small group of evil men determined to wreak havoc on the rest of global society with the fiercest and most treacherous means available at their disposal. But, instead, a few good men stood tall and acted like the statesmen they were, and inspired the rest of us to carry on and fight the good fight. And, they called for immense sacrifice.

We went without – a lot of stuff – for a long time. Rules were broken and changed. There were very few sacred cows untarnished. The future of the world was on the line. And, because of all of that, the people banded together and prevailed.

This election also needs to be about statesmanship and leadership.

We face three major disasters today — the first being fallout from the financial recession of 2008 with respect to the balance sheets of consumers and government entities. The collapse of housing prices destroyed trillions in family assets. The median net worth of families in the United States dropped by 39 percent over a three year period — from $126,000 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010 — leaving family wealth back where it was in 1992, two decades before.

Second, the housing collapse led to permanent damage to our financial and banking system. Banks are not making normal loans because they still have a lot of bad debt on the books and they are uncertain about future regulatory requirements, and global financial developments. As much as I hate them, they are doing what is right for their shareholders. But, what they are doing is wrong for the world.

And third, our enormous government debt breeds uncertainty. No one has any idea how we can pay this debt down, and especially when Congress continues to do their UFC imitations and seems completely unable to function.

And, we face one huge potential disruptor – the coming financial fallout from the impending collapse of most of Europe and many of their most prestigious banking institutions. This event will create panic, banking disasters, it will plunge the economy even deeper into chaos and cause even greater job loss.

We can avoid all of this, but it will require a summit like no other and leadership rarely witnessed in history. It will require that we throw away all convention and determine to start anew at whatever cost and whatever pain to those most heavily invested. I once asked the head of Levi Strauss’s Jeanswear division why they decided to stop shipping product to China and he said, “The Haas brothers don’t need any more money.” Well, I think that reasoning applies aptly to a lot of people in power today as well.

How can we stop all this?

Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, Conservative, Liberal or Libertarian, we need to vote for a leader and a statesman. The only man running, who is capable of delivering speeches to raise the spirit and pride of the American people, who is driven by reason and not by politics, who can conjure the presence and will of Roosevelt and Churchill, Kennedy and Lincoln, and who can summon our courage and strength when we will need it most. There is only one who can bring global leaders to a summit and get them to do the hard things that must be done to put a stop to this spiral. There’s only one statesman running, and his name isn’t Mitt Romney.


Gas Prices. Who’s Your Daddy?

If you listened to Romney’s stump speeches, you would think he is the “people’s” champion for lower gas prices.

Who ARE these people?

His supporters like “Drill-baby” McCain, have been trying to convince us for years that the simplest and fastest way to lower gas prices is to drill everywhere we can fit an oil rig in the U.S. His message is that Obama is a weak leader, influenced only by his elite, leftist, Harvard-educated friends, and that left to his devices, we will continue to kiss environmentalist behinds and keep the price of gas in the $4-5/gallon range forever.

Because after all, $5 gas is no sweat to Obama and his friends. McCain and Romney are only looking out for you, the little guy.

It turns out that high gas prices aren’t actually a problem for Romney either. They are in fact a a boon to his political fortunes.

Using the little guy’s pain at the pump for political purposes, is not the only way he and McCain et al, benefit from high gas prices. Big oil interests are among his most reliable and significant supporters — and when gas prices are high, so are their profits.

These record profits give oil executives even more cash than usual to spend on advancing their political agenda — and that begins with electing Romney. In fact, Big Oil executives pledged more than $200 million to aid Romney’s campaign, and to defeat Obama.

The quid pro quo? Big oil gets to keep its billions in special tax breaks every year. So not only does the little guy pay once – at the pump – but he gets to pay twice through his income taxes, some of which goes to subsidize an industry where the top 5 companies earned $137 billion in profits last year!

In keeping with a time-honored tradition, Big-oil has managed to get Harold Hamm, a billionaire oil executive appointed as Romney’s top energy adviser. This is the same Harold Hamm who declared in 2009 that cheap oil would be a “disaster,” and that “clean energy is a magical fantasy”.

Romney actually gets passionate about oil and gas prices. At a recent town hall meeting, he responded to a question about high gas prices by asserting that efforts to reduce the billions in tax breaks for big oil companies are “dangerous”, and described Paul Ryan’s budget which protects the oil subsidies while eliminating clean energy investments as a “bold and exciting effort.” This was followed by a Fox News debate in which he said that oil and gas executives tell him they had it “a whole lot better” under fellow oilman George W. Bush. You think?

It gets better. Instead of tapping American ingenuity to make our cars go farther on a gallon of gas, Romney has continually blasted improved fuel-efficiency standards — including the higher standards that Bush signed into law as president. He has declared that U.S. clean energy sources — like wind and solar power — are not “real energy,” and that burgeoning green technologies are nothing more than “expensive fads.” He thumbed his nose at the U.S. auto industry by mocking Chevy’s hybrid electric Volt as “an idea whose time has not come.”

Looks pretty cool to me!

Romney’s mutual admiration relationship with Big Oil comes down to this: Oil company executives see high gas prices as an opportunity to profit financially. Romney sees that high gas prices represent an opportunity to profit politically.

Rachel Maddow had an interesting chart on her “Chart Imitates Life” segment last night which depicted the relationship between income inequality and political partisanship in Congress as two lines almost hugging each other from the 1940’s until now.

    

The next time you slide your credit card into that gas pump, give a thought to that chart and to Romney’s true sympathies. He may want to bet you $10,000 that gas won’t go to $5/gallon this year. If Obama’s ahead in the polls, take it!

 


Romney’s Returns Refute His Tax Argument.

For all the attention devoted to Mitt Romney’s tax returns last month, one element went largely unnoticed: They directly refute the Republican candidate’s argument that higher tax rates deter capital investment.

Simply put, all of the investments made by Bain Capital LLC, the private-equity company Romney cofounded in 1984 and ran until 1999, occurred when capital-gains rates were much higher than they are today. Yet Bain consistently attracted massive amounts of private capital, and thrived.

Bain’s haul is further evidence that fair tax rates don’t hold back profit-seeking capitalists, at least until those rates reach a point that no one is proposing. From 1984 until 1999, the top rates on capital gains — the profit from investments as opposed to compensation for work — were often at 28 percent, and never lower than 20 percent. Indeed, in 1987, under President Ronald Reagan, the 20 percent rate rose to 28 percent — a 40 percent increase in potential taxation of Bain investment profit. (Yes, Reagan did raise taxes, even on capital.)

An analysis by the Wall Street Journal of 77 Bain deals in that time period showed that the firm “produced about $2.5 billion in gains for its investors,” on about $1.1 billion invested. Clearly, even with capital-gains rates almost double those today, fund managers such as Romney didn’t lack investors.

No Deterrent

Others can debate whether the private-equity crucible created more jobs than it destroyed. One thing is certain, though: Investors signing up for a chance to earn, say, a gross $10 million profit on a deal weren’t deterred by the prospect that taxes meant they would only keep a net $7.2 million.

Potential taxes were certainly disclosed to investors, and figured into the expected rate of return. And individual investors might have had offsets, such as the carried-forward losses from other deals reflected in the Romney tax return.

Particularly remarkable is the windfall Romney received from steep reductions in the capital-gains rate that took place after most of the deals he oversaw had closed. In 1997, the rate was cut to 20 percent, from 28 percent. It was reduced to the current 15 percent in 2003.

No one investing in a private-equity deal in 1990 could possibly say they anticipated the rate would be only 15 percent on profit still being paid out in 2010. Applying the reduced rate to deals previously closed couldn’t possibly be viewed as an incentive to investors.

At the same time, because these rate cuts were applied retroactively, the Romney family enjoyed a windfall of about $600,000 each year in lower taxes paid (assuming the Romneys received the same $12 million in income from carried interest and other capital-gains returns since 2001 as they did in 2010).

When multiplied by thousands of similarly situated taxpayers, this after-the-fact tax-cut windfall contributed significantly to the budget deficit, even though its value to the economy remains dubious, as numerous analysts of capital- gains rate cuts have concluded.

At a time of ballooning federal deficits and frayed social safety nets, higher capital-gains rates can contribute meaningfully to deficit reduction and to helping a middle class that is struggling to stay afloat, without hampering good investments in American businesses.

The Romney tax returns vividly illustrate that fair tax rates don’t deter those whom Republicans now routinely call “job creators” from investing.

As Warren Buffett so aptly put it, “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital-gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

Conservative commentators will continue to recite their credo that letting the lower Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains expire — and returning to the pre-2001 percent rate of 20 percent — would kill investment and jobs. It will be hard for them to ignore the window provided by Romney’s returns into the real world of private-equity investing and the economy.


Super-PAC Mania!

Romney’s haul, Obama‘s Hollywood bundle, Colbert’s lolz: highlights from campaign spending central.

For data crunchers and political reporters on the money trail, today is something of a holiday. Call it Super-PAC Tuesday.

Below are the highlights from Super-PAC Tuesday, from Colbert’s mystery donors and Jon Huntsman’s daddy’s money to Restore Our Future‘s top funders. Super-PAC disclosures span the second half of 2011, while traditional campaign disclosures cover the final three months of last year. We’ll be updating this throughout the day. And if you have tips or questions, leave them in the comments section or email us at scoop (at) motherjones (dot) com.

Breaking down the balance sheets of GOP presidential hopefuls.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

 

Raised $9.8 million and spent $8 million in the final three months of 2011. Had $2.1 million on hand at the end of the year. Carrying a debt of $1.19 million.

 

Breaking down the biggest rainmakers funding Obama’s reelection effort.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

Notable Obama bundlers:
Vogue editor Anna Wintour ($500,000 or more)
Actress Eva Longoria ($200,000 to $500,000)
Scandal-ridden financier Jon Corzine ($500,000 or more)
Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg ($500,000 or more)
Hollywood producer and executive Harvey Weinstein ($500,000 or more)
Actor (“The Wire,” “Treme”) Wendell Pierce ($50,000-$100,000)

Here’s a look at some of the folks throwing bucks at Priorities USA Action:

$150,000: William Little, Jr., chairman of George Little Management, LLC, a company specializing in high-profile trade shows and networking platforms.

$100,000: Steven Spielberg, co-principal at Dreamworks Animation and director of such films as JawsSchindler’s ListJurassic Park, and that godawful Indiana Jones installment with aliens and a nuclear-blast-proof refrigerator.

$100,000: John Law, managing director at Warland Investments, a real estate firm in Cypress, California.

$50,000: Lenny Mendonca, director at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. He also serves on the board of The New America Foundation and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

$15,000: Orin Kramer, a general partner at the New York-based Boston Provident who was dubbed the “King of the New York Obamasaurs” by The New York Observer in 2008.

$10,000: Joseph Falk, a public policy consultant for mega law firm Akerman Senterfitt in Miami. He is on the board of directors of the Victory Fund, a PAC dedicated to electing openly LGBT candidates to public office.

 

When Tim Pawlenty quit the race and endorsed Mitt Romney, the latter got an energetic, polished surrogate. The former got a fat check from Romney’s fundraising machine to pay off campaign debt.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

 

$150,000: Amount donated by Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania-based giant whose board of directors includes one Rick Santorum, to pro-Romney super-PAC Restore our Future.

$0: Amount donated to the pro-Santorum super-PAC Red, White, and Blue Fund.

 

 70 percent of the money raised by pro-Hunstman Our Destiny PAC came from one man—Jon Huntsman Sr.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

 

Where’d the rest of Our Destiny PAC’s money come from? A quick sampling:

$250,000: Peter Arnott, chairman of the California investment management firm, Research Associates.

$150,000: The Walton family (WalMart).

$40,000: Craig Mckaw, Seattle telecom entrepreneur and cofounder of the Free Willy Foundation, which covered the living expenses and relocation costs of Keiko the Killer Whale. (His wife, Susan, chipped in another $40,000).

 

Top strategist Ed Rollins left Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign in early September and proceeded to spend the next four months trashing it, famously telling reporters: “If I would have Googled her, I would have found out she had 6 chiefs of staff in 5 years.” Which makes that payment in Bachmann’s last quarterly filing sting that much more: $30,000 to one Edward J. Rollins of New York, New York. All told, Rollins was paid $120,000 by a campaign he helped sink, and which is currently $1,055,924 in the hole.

Two fake presidential campaigns. One undisputed fundraising champion.

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

 

The famous, and not-so-famous, donors to Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

$1: Harry Ballsagna 7190 Ridgegate Dr, Gladstone, Oregon 97027-1180

$25: Pat Magroin 9756 Prospect Ave Lakeside, California 92040-4114

$10: Ibin Yerkinoff P.O. Box 1315 Levittown, Pennsylvania 19058

$1: Frumunda Mabalz 5364 Ballyduff St. Fitchburg, Wisconsin 53711

 

Sources: All super-PAC data appear in Federal Election Commission disclosure forms filed by the committees. Obama bundler data was published by the Obama reelection campaign.