Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romney-Ryan: A ticket for the rich, a disaster for America

Ha ha ha... no taxes... ha ha ha... it's good to be stinking rich...

The game having been changed, it will be difficult enough for Romney now that he'll have to campaign not just against a popular incumbent but for his running mate's unpopular budget plan. He wanted this to be a referendum on Obama but instead it could turn out to be just as much a referendum on Ryan's, and the Republican Party's, far-right agenda.

What makes it worse for Romney, increasingly seen as a privileged rich douchebag with a plutocratic sense of entitlement (which is what he is, perception meeting reality), is that he'd benefit enormously were Ryan's plan -- a plan to undo the social compact and American democratic self-governance and to enrich and empower the rich, like Romney himself -- ever to be implemented:

Under Paul Ryan's plan, Mitt Romney wouldn't pay any taxes for the next ten years -- or any of the years after that. Now, do I know that that's true. Yes, I'm certain.

Well, maybe not quite nothing. In 2010 -- the only year we have seen a full return from him -- Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of around 0.82 percent under the Ryan plan, rather than the 13.9 percent he actually did. How would someone with more than $21 million in taxable income pay so little? Well, the vast majority of Romney's income came from capital gains, interest, and dividends. And Ryan wants to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends.

Romney already has enough problems on that front. He's refusing to release his tax returns and seems to be hiding something, something very bad, the suspicion fully justifiable given that we already know he has put some of his wealth in offshore tax shelters.

And now the questions will come in earnest: Do you support a plan that would reduce your own tax rate to almost zero? If not, how do you and Ryan intend to resolve your differences? And why is he your running mate? If so, how do you intend to pay for those tax cuts for the rich? And do you not think there's a problem with a budget plan that would shift even more of the tax burden downwards while also destroying essential entitlement programs (e.g., Medicare privatization) and other supports for the non-rich?
As The Atlantic's Matthew O'Brien continues:
It might seem impossible to fund the government when the super-rich pay no taxes. That is accurate. Ryan would actually raise taxes on the bottom 30 percent of earners, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, but that hardly fills the revenue hole he would create. The solution? All but eliminate all government outside of Social Security and defense -- a point my colleague Derek Thompson has made in incredible chart form.
Maybe Harry Reid's mysterious source that Romney didn't pay taxes for a decade was really a time-traveler from the future. If Romney wins, it could very well be true.
In selecting Ryan, Romney may have excited conservatives, but he also made his image problem, as well as his efforts to distance himself from the ugly details of right-wing Republican orthodoxy, even worse. As The New Republic's Alec MacGillis writes:

It is the favorable treatment of capital gains that has helped drive income inequality to its current levels and that results in the 400 households with the highest income in the country paying such jarringly low tax rates. And Ryan wants to now eliminate the tax on this income entirely? Just seven months ago, Romney argued convincingly in his exchange with Newt that this was taking a good thing a bit too far. Now he's tied at the hip to the leading champion of this approach -- and has turned himself into the poster boy for why it's a terrible idea. In that sense, Ryan and Romney could hardly be more ill-suited to each other's needs: Romney puts an inconvenient face on the extremity of Ryan's plan, while Ryan's plan sheds even more light on Romney's taxes -- or the glaring lack thereof.
Thanks for a great pick, Mitt. Much appreciated.

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