Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan pick a failed attempt to deviate from Romney's tax issues

The VP candidate may contribute to woes as Romney would pay 0.82% in taxes under Ryan's plan

The choice of Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan for vice president within Mitt Romney's campaign is indeed a momentous occasion. It's not often, after all, that a politician from Wisconsin gets chosen for such an honor.

Still, the selection -- like all vice presidential candidates -- is a political one. Ryan helps Romney with his conservative bona fides, strengthening his base even if the Tea Party doesn't see Romney as right as they'd want him to be.

Romney's tax problems persist

More importantly, the Ryan selection distracts from the weeks of Romney avoiding the issue of his tax returns -- or rather, the lack thereof. While the Obama campaign has released 12 years of tax returns, a precedent followed by previous presidential candidates (and started by Mitt's father George in 1968), Romney has only released a single year of returns, from 2010.

Those returns show that Romney paid just 13.9 percent of his earnings that year towards taxes.

Supporters of President Barack Obama have wondered aloud why Romney hasn't released more records. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has even suggested that, according to a source close to Romney's Bain Capital days, Romney hasn't paid any taxes over a ten-year period of time.

Though Reid's statements are pure conjecture, they do emphasize a very perplexing question: what exactly is Romney keeping from the public? Even conservative pundit George Will has weighed in on the issue, stating that Romney is likely keeping the returns private for political reasoning.
The cost of not releasing the returns are clear; therefore he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them
Emphasis added.

Obama's school records vs. Romney's taxes

The right's response to this has been to deflect the question instead towards Obama, stating that Romney doesn't need to release his tax records because the president is being just as secretive with his college transcripts.

But the precedent for releasing school transcripts is slimmer than the precedent for releasing tax returns. Indeed, in recent history the only person to voluntarily release his records while running for president was Joe Biden -- who did so in the 80s. Even Romney himself hasn't released his school transcripts:
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.
Emphases added.

So the president released 12 years of tax returns, but Romney released one year. Obama didn't release any school records, but neither did Romney.

And the right portrays it as Obama being more in-the-wrong than Romney? It makes very little sense.

Ryan as a transition in the debate? Perhaps not

To distract from this debacle, Romney finally named his vice presidential nominee. It certainly has taken some of the edge off of the criticism that Romney has been on the receiving end of. But in the end, it may also re-emphasize it as well, because Paul Ryan only intends to release two years of his tax records, too.

Barack Obama has released three times the number of tax returns that Romney and Ryan intend to release. But that's just the start of his tax worries with Ryan as his running mate. According to the Atlantic, Paul Ryan's tax plan would result in Romney paying virtually no taxes at all, if his future returns are similar to his 2010 earnings.

Putting it all together: Romney's taxes a backdrop of the debate

Why does this all matter? Some may say this is all personal, that this undercuts the real meat of what the election is about to be about: issues and policies that the candidates endorse and reject. But it's Romney's wealth and tax evasion schemes that provide the backdrop to the tax debate overall.

When a man like Romney earns more wealth annually than some people can dream of earning in a lifetime -- and more to the point, pays a proportionally less amount of taxes towards those earnings -- it's a sign that things need to change in our country.

We can no longer afford to hurt the American working class with tax policies specially tailored towards benefiting the extremely wealthy. A "shared sacrifice," a term conservatives touted ad nauseum during the 2010 campaign, means all income levels give some in order to make the country work again.

That cannot happen without sacrifice from the wealthy as well, in the form of a modest tax adjustment.

For my money, I'm going to support a presidential candidate who isn't afraid to give himself a tax increase in order to fix the economy. That candidate is Barack Obama. The other candidate, Mitt Romney, is seeking to grow his own wealth, which exceeds the combined wealth of the past eight presidents (TIMES TWO). And his running mate, Paul Ryan, has crafted a budget that does just that, reducing his taxes by more than 13 percentage points, almost to nothing at all.

That's not shared sacrifice; and it's not going to put America on the path to prosperity. The Romney/Ryan ticket is one that will make our country's financial struggles worse, not better.

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