Posted by on Wednesday, July 18, 2012
One of the major narratives that Barack Obama has been running on ever since he began his political career, is changing the tax code. "Right now, we have a tax code that gives incentives for companies to move offshore. Instead, we must have a tax code that rewards companies that are doing the right thing", proclaimed Obama in June 2004.
Running for president in May 2008, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "We have seen a lack of shared prosperity. So, you've got CEOs making more in a day than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEO that's getting the tax break, instead of the workers." He went on to pledge, "I will raise CEO taxes. There is no doubt about it." Since that campaign and at least until 2010, Obama has criticized the Bush tax cuts as "tax cuts for people who don't need them and weren't even asking for them."
Last September, in his jobs speech at Congress, Obama struck that familiar refrain about the lack of fairness in the tax system. "While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary -- an outrage he has asked us to fix." Eleven days later, he gave another speech, saying Republicans should have to defend tax "unfairness -- explain why somebody who's making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that -- paying a higher rate. They ought to have to answer for it."
Today, there is no better poster boy for the point Obama as been championing, than Mitt Romney.
This is exactly why, many suspect, Romney refuses to release more of his tax returns. There has been some well founded speculation from his conservative collegues that Romney may have paid no taxes at all for a few years, in particular, 2009. This, because of the floundering of the stock market during that time and the tax code that allows people like him to protect their wealth in a way not afforded to the working class, middle class Americans.
Romney has been helping to make this caricature stick. When he was pressed to release tax information for the last two years, what has been shown so far is that Romney paid that low 15 percent rate (slightly below that, in fact), and that he got a $77,000 deduction for expenses related to his wife's horse sport. His spin was that there was nothing unusual about that, which is exactly what 2004-2012 Obama has been saying. Then, to absolve himself of blame for lay-offs and outsourcing, Romney said he didn't have anything to do with management decisions at Bain after February 1999. When it became clear that he was still legally in control of the company until 2002, Romney was lured into, 'Romney got paid for nothing'.
Obama's point is not that Romney's a terrible person. Its just that people like Romney are not paying their fair share, and that the tax code gives people in his position incentives to do things like send factories to China. This is the problem with America that Obama has been talking about.
And now he's got a face and a name: Mitt Romney.
Tags: tax code mitt romney tax returns tax reform outsourcing economy fair share corporations jobs