Mitt "Strength" Romney has been putting some really strong thinking into his position on taxes and he's decided that he's strongly against them. (You can read up on his other powerful ideas in his campaign's Strategy for a Stronger America, available through his website, the one with the banner on top that reads, "Mitt Romney True Strength for America" and the quote at the bottom that goes -- I shit you not -- "I believe the strength of America lies in the strength of her people. I am running for President because I want to help keep America strong."
Romney. Strong. Romney. Strong. HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn...
I mean, that's a lot of strength. Does he want to lead America or bench press it?
How strongly does Romney hate taxes? Last week, he not only signed a pledge to oppose all tax increases, he also snapped the pen in half, shattered the desk with a single blow, and made powerful animal love to Grover Norquist on the shards.
In the end, all that remained of Norquist and the desk was sawdust and an unjustified sense of entitlement.
Then the Romney Campaign recorded a radio ad and released:
STRATEGY FOR A STRONGER AMERICA: A CONSERVATIVE BLUEPRINT TO LOWER TAXES
Check it out. BLUEPRINT #1: Making The Bush Tax Cuts Permanent. Governor Romney believes making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent is the first step to ensuring that Americans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money.
Fair enough. Of course, all the other Republican candidates support making the tax cuts permanent too, except for Ron Paul, who believes taxes themselves are expressly forbidden by a secret code hidden in the eye on the back of the dollar.
And I'm not that interested, here, in going over who did and who didn't benefit from the Bush tax cuts. There are lots of indisputable figures about how the rich got richer and the poor didn't, but you can look those up yourself in Janeane Garofalo's tattoos.
Okay, just one: Since 2001, the average member of a middle income American family has received a tax cut of about $300 per year, but their share of the national debt has increased to $8,936. Another way to look at that? 99% of Americans will end up owing almost four dollars for every dollar they saved.
So we're saddling our children with crushing debt. That's why it's important that we don't give them health insurance. To make sure they're too sickly to strike back.
BLUEPRINT #2: Rolling Back Tax Rates For All Americans: Governor Romney Will Roll Back Tax Rates Across The Board For All Americans. As President, Governor Romney will cut marginal tax rates across the board, allowing all Americans to save more money.
This is what economists call "a lie." Romney also promised to cut marginal tax rates when he was in Massachusetts and got exactly nowhere. Or, as he describes it in his new radio ad: "I stood firm to roll back taxes as Governor. I'll roll back taxes as President."
I know that sounds like he's saying: "I stood firm and rolled back taxes," but it doesn't. What he means is, he firmly wanted to roll back taxes; what happened was that they stayed right where they were.
It depends on what your definition of "to" is. He means it like "as if to." It's not his fault if you heard something else.
The statement appears to be a slippery lie, but let's give him the benefit of a doubt and call it wishful thinking, micromanaged to be misunderstood.
Mitt Romney saying he's going to firmly roll back tax rates is like me saying I'm going to firmly stay in the tub until Rachel Weisz comes to my house and rinses my hair. I can be as firm as I want; that doesn't change the fact that Ms. Weisz has her own family and I have mine. BLUEPRINT #3: Eliminating Taxes On Middle Class Savings: Governor Romney Will Make Middle Class Savings Tax Free. Governor Romney's plan will allow middle class Americans to save tax free by changing the tax rate on interest, capital gains and dividends to absolutely 0%.
Wow. Absolutely zero! That's negative 275 degrees Celsius! Or maybe I'm thinking of something else. Either way, it's pretty bold. Except that two-thirds of Americans already pay less than $12 a year in income tax on capital gains.
How are you going to spend your windfall? I'm going to the movies, alone.
But these $12 people are the 2/3rds of us who make less than $50,000. Romney's plan is to eliminate all Federal taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for people who make up to $200,000. And if that doesn't encourage you to finally quit your dead end "job" and go into day trading full-time, I can't imagine what will.
It means that living tax-free off hard-earned inherited wealth won't just be for the super-rich anymore. It's also for plucky second-tier heiresses whose stock dividends don't even add up to a measly four grand a week. Why should they pay taxes on that income? Just because people who perform "labor" do?
How's that fair?
BLUEPRINT #4: Eliminating The Death Tax Once And For All. The Death Tax unfairly impacts families, farmers, ranchers and small businesses. These are the engines of America's economic growth and they should not be burdened by unfair taxes.
Oh for heaven's sake. Ranchers? The engines of America's growth are its ranchers? Forget the tech sector and customer support -- that's for sissies and Indians -- we've got ranchers?
Ranchers? Like the Cartwrights? Did they create a lot of jobs? Let's see, there was Hop Sing.
½ of 1% of dead people in America leave a taxable estate. (I read it on Janeane Garofalo's back.) And for the first $2,000,000 that you can't take with you, your descendants and/or trophy wife don't even have to file a return.
Maybe taxing zombie billionaires is fair and maybe it's not, but when you start calling inherited wealth (from ranching) the engine of America's economic growth words themselves cease to have any meaning. You're just being silly. BLUEPRINT #5: Cutting The Corporate Tax Rate: Governor Romney Believes Our Corporate Tax Rate Must Be Competitive With The Rest Of The World. The United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. We simply cannot afford for future economic growth to have a tax rate that is out of alignment with the other major economies of the world.
THE SECOND HIGHEST CORPORATE TAX RATE IN THE ENTIRE OECD!!!
OH MY GOD!!!
DID YOU HEAR THAT!!?
HOW DID WE LET THIS HAPPEN!!?
WHY DO OUR RANCHERS EVEN BOTHER!!?
WAIT... WHAT THE HELL'S THE ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT!!?
That sure sounds like he's saying we pay the second highest corporate tax rates in the world, doesn't it?
Except that's not what he means at all. There are 192 member states in the United Nations. 162 aren't in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Countries like, oh, for instance China, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Saudi Arabia and India.
So who is in the OECD? Well, it does include most of the major trading nations, but it also finds room for Luxembourg, Portugal, Belgium, and the Slovak Republic.
OUR CORPORATE TAXES ARE OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC!!!
NO WONDER IRAN'S GETTING THE BOMB AND BRITNEY SPEARS DRINKS!!!
Yes, this "second unfairest in a club you've never heard of" is basically a load. But let's play by Mitt rules, ignore the counties that contain 4/5ths of the world's population and just compare America to the counties in the OECD. (I don't know the Portuguese word for "rancher" but cavaleiro means horseman, if that helps.)
Are American companies paying higher taxes? No they're not. The OECD ranking Mitt is using doesn't refer to corporate tax brackets at all. It refers to the total amount of taxes a nation's corporations pay expressed as a fraction of GDP. And why did American companies pay more taxes last year (measured against GDP) than Belgian companies did?
Because they made higher profits.
Scads. What economists call "shitloads." ExxonMobil, for instance, is an American company. It did pretty well. Maybe you heard about it.
Unless Mitt wants to index corporate taxes, so that they go down every time the GDP drops, our ranking in the OECD will fluctuate.
Usually, by the way, they're insanely low. In a typical year -- like 2004, for instance - America's corporate taxes don't rank second highest in the OECD, they rank third lowest, just above Germany and Iceland.
So it's a double-talk statistic, of an atypical event, on a phony scale, to scare you into cutting Texaco's taxes. Even for a grease bucket like Mitt Romney, that's pretty good.
How does it smell? You might even say "strong."