Tag Archives: gop

More Questions Than Answers About Romney’s Taxes

25 Sep

On Friday, Mitt Romney belatedly released just a single additional tax return — his 2011 filing — and a cryptic summary of the previous two decades. The summary featured no details about any individual year. And as for the 2011 return, it was cooked to produce a higher tax rate — and more favorable headlines — for Romney, calling into question what else in this and other returns was manipulated to produce a more favorable appearance.

Here’s ten questions about his taxes that Mitt Romney still needs to answer:

1. After the election, when the subject of your tax returns is outside of the public glare, will you file an amended tax return to claim your full deduction of charitable contributions? Was the tax rate you reported for other years similarly manipulated?

2. Why was your 2011 income $7 million lower than you estimated it to be in January? How does someone overestimate their income by $7 million?

3. Financial disclosures show that you have as much as $82 million in your tax-deferred Individual Retirement Account, despite the fact that tax rules limited contributions into such accounts to $30,000 per year. Did you lowball the value of the assets you put into your IRA, as tax experts suspect? And did you do the same with gifts into your sons’ trusts?

4. What was the purpose of your Swiss bank account and the myriad offshore entities shown on your return, based in countries like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, if not to avoid taxes?

5. Can you explain what one tax expert has called a “mysterious one-time infusion of foreign tax credits” in 2008?

6. You have not disclosed any foreign bank account reports (FBARs). Did you file all FBARs on all of your offshore accounts with the Treasury Department by the legal deadlines each year?

7. You claim to have paid an average tax rate of 20 percent over the last 20 years based on a flawed calculationWhat was your real tax rate?

8. Your 14 percent tax rate –- not to mention the approximately 10 percent tax rate you would have paid had you not inflated it — is less than what many middle-class Americans pay. And you paid just 0.2% of your income in payroll taxes, while most Americans pay about 15%. Do you think that is fair?

9. Your tax returns show that the Marriott Corporation paid you $260,390 in directors’ fees in 2011. When you were the company’s audit committee chair in the 1990s, were you aware that the company was abusing a notorious illegal tax shelter?

10. You say you’ve made a “commitment to the public” that your tax rate should not be below 13 percent. If you believe that the richest Americans shouldn’t be paying an exceptionally low tax rate, why don’t you support President Obama’s “Buffett Rule”?

In fairness, Romney actually did answer question number eight during a 60 Minutes interview that aired last night. Romney argued that it is indeed “fair” for him to pay a lower tax rate on millions in investment income than a middle class worker pays on $50,000 in wages:

Pelley: Now, you made on your investments, personally, about $20 million last year. And you paid 14 percent in federal taxes. That’s the capital gains rate. Is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 and paid a higher rate than you did?

Romney: It is a low rate. And one of the reasons why the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as 35 percent.

Pelley: So you think it is fair?

Romney: Yeah, I think it’s the right way to encourage economic growth, to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work.

Not only does none other than Ronald Reagan disagree with Romney, but his economic argument is also wrong. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy ushered in the weakest job growth in decades. Lower taxes on the wealthy do not lead to job growth. In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s time for Mitt Romney to come clean about both his tax returns and plans to increase taxes on the middle class while slashing them even further for the wealthiest Americans.

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FAMiLY LEADER: Meet The Radical Group Driving The GOP Primary

13 Jul

Who Is The FAMiLY LEADER?

Much of the news around the 2012 Republican primary over the past few days has been driven by a highly controversial pledge offered by a radical conservative group in Iowa, the the FAMiLY LEADER (the lowercase “i” represents individual submission before God). Here’s what you need to know about the group and its leader, Bob Vander Plaats.

WHO: Bob Vander Plaats is a thrice-failed Iowa gubernatorial candidate who successfully led a campaign last year to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices who backed a unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality. Vander Plaats then took over leadership of the FAMiLY LEADER and is now positioning himself as the 2012 Iowa caucus kingmaker, having led Mike Huckabee’s successful 2008 caucus campaign. More recently, Vander Plaats has also tried to position himself as a Tea Party leader.

Other fast facts on Vander Plaats:

WHAT: The FAMiLY LEADER, a Christian conservative group with radical anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and other extreme views.

WHERE: The group and its affiliated organizations are based just outside Des Moines, Iowa.

WHY THEY MATTER: Social conservatives dominate the GOP base in Iowa, and Vander Plaats is angling to be the gatekeeper for those voters.

The FAMiLY LEADER has been hosting a presidential lecture series for the past several months, with each candidate coming to Iowa in turn and traveling the state with Vander Plaats to speak to conservative audiences. The candidates who participated in these events were Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.

The group will host its own presidential debate in November, after which Vander Plaats will make his endorsement.

WHAT IS IN THEIR PLEDGE: Last week, the FAMiLY LEADER unveiled an extremely controversial 14-point “Marriage Vow” pledge that any candidate who wants to be endorsed by the group must sign. Here are its key elements (more details can be found here):

  • Black children born into slavery were better off than black children born today (The group deleted this “misconstrued” provision after massive public outcry.)
  • Personality fidelity to his/her spouse
  • Married people have better sex and lead healthier lives
  • Homosexuality is a choice
  • Homosexuality is a public health threat
  • Homosexuality is like polygamy, adultery, and polyandry
  • Porn should be banned
  • “Sharia Islam” must be rejected
  • Must uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and refuse to define marriage as anything other than one man, one woman
  • Appoint strict constitutionalists as judges
  • Shrink the size of government

WHO HAS SIGNED THE PLEDGE: Bachmann and Santorum almost immediately signed the pledge (including its offensive pro-slavery provision); Jon Huntsman declined on the grounds that he does not sign any pledges; thrice-married Gingrich declined to sign during an appearance yesterday with Vander Plaats, citing the need for unspecified “across the board” changes to the pledge; and Gary Johnson attacked it as discriminatory and “un-Republican.” Others have until Aug. 1 to respond.

WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT THE GOP: Its Christian conservative base has become extreme, out-of-touch, and fixated on things of little concern to most Americans.

WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT THE 2012 CANDIDATES: Most of them are willing be to directly associated with extreme, highly-offensive views in order to win over the most conservative segment of the GOP base during the primary.

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George Bush: How’d He Do?

22 Dec

(Well, I think we all know the answer to this question). George Bush is busy on his Bucket List tour trying to shore up his legacy. Its not going so well for him, and not just because of flying shoes… Here is David Letterman’s take…

Palin is McCain’s Patsy

6 Oct

Poor Sarah Palin. Taken from mediocre obscurity and thrust (albeit willingly) in to the international spotlight. So far she has shown herself utterly unready and ill-equipped for the challenge. Now the disingenuous McCain campaign has her trotting out lines about Barack Obama’s past. (The AP called them racially tinged). Compare and contrast this to her assertion that the Obama campaign is looking backward (to the past eight years) not forward!

For a moment I even felt sorry for the harassed, windblown governor on the tarmac. I hope she can answer some questions about her own career...

Sarah Palin Believes Dinosaurs and Humans Coexisted??

1 Oct

The vice presidential candidate of a major political party in America apparently believes dinosaurs and men once walked the earth at the same time: After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that “dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time,” Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said “she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks,” recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.

From Boing Boing.

Sarah Palin’s Buttock-Clenchingly Embarrassing Couric Interview

30 Sep

Oh dear. The Republican party wheeled out Sarah Palin again in front of CBS’s Katie Couric, to explain – inter alia – her comment that “the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to stop a terrorist attack.” That’s directly counter to McCain’s stance and actually very close to what Barack Obama said in the first debate.

In the interview Sarah Palin comes across as a total lightweight (no comment) and McCain even interrupts to answer questions for her! Incredible!

I think there is now no doubt (if there ever was any) that she is utterly unprepared to be Vice-President, and the second-most powerful person in the USA. The fact that McCain selected her is a testament to his terrible judgment and lack of respect for the high office he seeks.

You can watch a clip here (scroll down a bit).

President Bush’s Approval Rating At An All Time Low

30 Sep

In the wake of yesterday’s congressional meltdown over the bailout bill, President Bush gave a speech this morning meant to reassure the public and the volatile financial markets. Just four minutes long, the address expressed disappointment in Congress and warned that “the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act.” But Bush’s speech is unlikely to have much of an effect. Immediately following the address, MSNBC turned to New York Magazine’s John Heilemann, who commented that Bush “was the picture of a beaten dog. That was the picture of presidential impotence right there.” The Washington Post writes today that yesterday’s failed bailout vote “marked the biggest legislative defeat of Bush’s tenure and underscored the vanishing influence of a Republican president who could once bend a pliant Congress to his will on wars, taxes, surveillance and a host of other high-profile initiatives.” Coinciding with these developments, Gallup has released a new poll today showing that Bush’s approval rating has dropped to the lowest point in his tenure, 27 percent.