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Mitt Romney and the 1%

January 27, 2012

This entry by AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee is cross-posted from The Huffington Post and Firedoglake.

Mitt Romney has released some information on his income taxes over the past two years. Turns out he’s paid less than 14 percent on more than $40 million in income. He makes more in one day than most American makes all year, yet he pays a tax rate that is far less than what the vast majority of Americans pay. Keep in mind that Romney’s income rolled in while he did nothing but clip coupons and hit the campaign trail. It suggests that our once progressive income tax has been turned into a farce, where the very rich get away with paying less than bus drivers, construction crews and health care workers. That’s not right, and it’s why the tax laws need to be changed and changed soon.

It’s now obvious why Romney tried so hard for so long to hide his financial holdings. He’s stashed some of his money in tax havens like Luxemburg and the Cayman Islands. He’s even had a Swiss bank account. He says he’s paid taxes on all his foreign holdings, but The Los Angeles Times reports that Romney failed to disclose at least 23 funds and partnerships on his most recent financial disclosure forms, including 11 based in low-tax foreign countries. While he may not have broken any laws by funneling cash into off-shore accounts and companies, Romney has clearly broken faith with the American people. He amassed his wealth by hollowing-out companies, laying off employees, ruining communities and practicing what is kindly called “vulture capitalism.” He left thousands of families in hardship while he accrued hundreds of millions in wealth. He should be ashamed, but if we’ve learned anything over the past year, Mitt Romney has no shame.

Romney, after all, doesn’t hide that he wants a tax code that rewards the 1 percent and makes the rest of us pay far more than our fair share. He’s running for president with a plan to change the tax code to make rich Americans even richer. The Economist magazine describes his plan as “very progressive, by 15th century standards.” Romney’s “help the rich get richer” plan would reduce the taxes of the top 1 percent by more than $170,000, while adding $600 billion to the deficit. He gets defensive when his plan is attacked, just as he gets hot under the collar when people bring up his past career as a corporate raider. He claims that any criticism of his repugnant business practices is an attack on free enterprise. It is not. It’s an attack on ruthless behavior. He claims that his critics are engaging in “class warfare.” It is not that either. If anything, he’s demonstrated the truth in Warren Buffett’s statement about class warfare: “It’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Unfortunately, Romney’s not the only candidate out there who is interested in making life easier for the well-to-do. Shockingly, Newt Gingrich’s tax proposals are even worse that Romney’s. He wants to eliminate completely the taxes on capital gains. His radical tax scheme would guarantee that most members of the 1 percent, including Romney, would pay little or no taxes at all. The middle class would be left to pay the country’s bills, including the cost of additional tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

Perhaps that’s why the GOP candidates spend their time distorting Pres. Obama’s record, rather than outlining their own hare-brained plans for our country. Rick Santorum goes even farther. He says talking about the middle class is misguided because, get this, it buys into “the class warfare arguments of Barack Obama.” Santorum scolded Romney for using the term in a recent debate: “The governor used a term earlier that I shrink from. And it’s one that I don’t think we should be using as Republicans: Middle class.” And why shouldn’t Republicans talk about the middle class? “There are no classes in America,” Santorum continued. Only a millionaire could believe this.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all support the unhinged agenda of their political allies who now control the U.S. House of Representatives. They’ve promised to support radical schemes like the Ryan Budget, which abandons programs that have helped to build and sustain the middle class, including Medicare, Social Security, education assistance, health research and job training programs. They ignore the damage done to the middle class as CEO pay skyrocketed 300% since 1990 and corporate profits doubled. These are the candidates of the 1%, for the 1% and by the 1%. If they have their way, Mitt Romney and the wealthiest people in America won’t have to release their tax returns. They won’t even have to file.

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