Why Mitt Romney's 15 percent tax rate may not matter in the long run (+video)
Republican voters already knew Mitt Romney is wealthy. Now that they know his effective tax rate, chances are they won't suddenly decide he'll have a harder time beating Obama than any of his GOP rivals.
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The fact that Romney pays only a 15 percent tax rate may breed some resentment, but assuming that he is playing by the rules, it’s not his fault that the IRS treats investment income more favorably than paid work. In fact, if some of the other GOP candidates had their way, and eliminated taxes on capital gains, Romney would be paying even less in taxes.Skip to next paragraph
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Romney was never going to score well on the proverbial measure of “someone you’d want to share a beer with” – or a root beer, in the case of the teetotaling Romney. Knowing his tax rate doesn’t make him seem any less relatable than he already was.
Americans have a complicated relationship with the wealthy. They may envy them, but many also admire them and want to be like them. That’s why Obama’s arguments about raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires aren’t as universally popular as one might expect.
Still, the Democrats are going to ride Romney’s new nickname – Mr. 15% – as long as they can. And because Romney’s wealth is a result of his years at Bain Capital – which involved not only helping build successful companies but also entailed closing businesses and firing people – there’s a nice one-two punch for attack ads and stump speeches.
Furthermore, as The New York Times reported last month, Romney continued to reap income from Bain deals through February 2009, nearly 10 years after he left the company. If Romney’s advisers can teach him one thing, it’s going to be to watch the “rich guy” rhetoric – references to multiple homes, lawn-care services, and making “not much” income from speeches.
The White House has already begun punching over Romney’s taxes. At his briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Jay Carney revealed a bit of opposition research on the history of presidential candidates and their tax returns.
“I think it was a tradition that was initiated by then-presidential candidate George Romney back in 1968, who released 12 years of tax records in ’68, as I understand it,” Mr. Carney said.
Former Michigan Gov. George Romney, of course, was Mitt Romney’s father.