If Mitt Romney wasn’t finished as a viable presidential contender before Tuesday, he most certainly was, in my opinion, after his comments on taxes and income that day in Greenville, S.C.
Asked directly what his effective tax rate was, Romney said:
“It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything. For the past 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away.”
That was bad enough because he pays a federal tax rate much lower than most salaried workers. (For example, a married couple filing jointly pays at a rate of 25 percent tax rate for taxable income above $69,000 in wages. Obama reported paying an effective tax rate of 26 percent on his 2010 income, the majority of which came from sale of his books.)
But Romney went on to really put his foot in it.
Finishing off the comment, he said, “I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”
Not very much?
Well, according to his personal financial disclosure, from February 2010 to February 2011, Romney earned $374,327 in speaking fees.
(Unfortunately, if you only read the print version of The Kansas City Star, you wouldn’t know about the uproar over Romney’s speaking fees because it wasn’t included in The Star’s three paragraph “campaign roundup” on Page 2 Wednesday.)
In its front-page report on the story, The New York Times said that $374,000 “would, by itself, very nearly catapult most American families into the top 1 percent of the country’s earners.”
In December, The Times reported that Romney, with an estimated family fortune of $190 million to $250 million, “is among the wealthiest candidates ever to run for president.”
In that story, The Times also said that after Romney left Bain Capital, the hugely successful private equity firm he helped start, “he negotiated a retirement agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political aspirations.”
The ever-prescient Times went on to say that since Mr. Romney’s payouts from Bain “have come partly from the firm’s share of profits on its customers’ investments, that income probably qualifies for the 15 percent tax rate reserved for capital gains, rather than the 35 percent that wealthy taxpayers pay on ordinary income.”
So there’s a thumbnail sketch of the man who’s going to try to beat Obama by contending that average Americans will do better under a Romney presidency than they have under Obama.
Talk about a disconnect. Voters are going to listen to that pitch, consider the source and flee into Obama’s arms.
I can’t imagine how Romney is going to be able to convince ordinary, working Americans that he should be their guy.
I’m going to predict that he’s ultimately going to lose the votes of the majority of the millions of people who don’t read newspapers, proclaim they don’t care about current events and just want to bitch about how bad Obama is. They can cover their ears and hum, but osmosis will do the job.
Immediately after Romney is nominated — if he survives the Gingrich mauling — he might match or go slightly ahead of Obama in the polls. But after that, I see him slipping steadily downhill.
I can’t remember a presidential campaign where one major candidate had so much working against him before the general-election campaign got underway.
Understandably, the Democrats are drooling.
The Times’ story on Wednesday quoted Bill Burton, a spokesman for Priorities USA Action, a “super Pac” supporting Obama as saying, “We won’t be waiting until he (Romney) reveals his returns in April to remind voters that Romney’s tax policy would keep taxes low for millionaires like himself, putting a burden on the middle class.”
If Romney is the Republican nominee, you’ll see me smiling next summer and fall…I’ll be much more worried, however, if Obama has to run against Newt and Callista.
There’s a gal that will probably appeal to the rednecks, whose votes the Republicans can’t win without.