Saturday, 14 April 2012

Income Tax Returns, The Buffett Rule - How will the Campaign 2012 Be Shaped

With Mitt Romney all but confirmed as the Republican nominee to face President Obama, the ballot question seems to be shaped by the Obama campaign.  On the one side you have the President discussing income equality and every one paying their fair share, while Mitt Romney believes a rebound of the economy will be sparked by lower taxes.   The good thing about these opposing views is that it may spark a debate that is long overdue.  NOT.

This week has been an example of he nastiness that we can expect from the campaigns, particular the Super PACs.  Obama's campaign team, headquartered in Chicago, has 200 operatives and Mitt Romney has a formidable organization as well.   The so-called Republican War on women, orchestrated by the contraception and abortion issue, particularly during the Santorum campaign, used Sandra Fluke as the showcase for the plight of students and women who suffer due to the purchase of birth control pills.  That campaign was a loser for Republicans, which moved the women vote into the Obama side of the ledger. 

This week, however, Hilary Rosen, with connections to the White House, made inflammatory remarks, which essentially said that Ann Romney had no credibility on economy, since had never worked a day in her life.  Not only was that a swipe at Ann Romney, who raised five boys as a stay at home mom, struggles with MS and is a breast cancer survivor, but it was a swipe at all other women, who chose to stay at home an raise their children.  The remarks were met by an outcry by all sides, including President Obama and the First Lady.  The White House and the DNC went into full damage control mode.  A FOX News and Rasmussen poll indicate that the remarks hurt the Obama campaign, with support of women for both candidates now in a statistical tie, a segment of the population that gave overwhelming support to the President prior to the remarks.

During the course of the GOP Primary, Mitt Romney released his 2010 income tax return and gave an estimate of the 2011 return, which he said would be made public once completed.  President Obama and the Vice President released their 2011 income tax returns yesterday, challenging Mitt Romney to make ten years of income tax returns public.  Prior to releasing his income tax returns, Obama had once again called for the rich to pay their fair share.  Surrounded by millionaires, Obama once again called for the Buffett rule, which would effectively double the capital gains tax for approximately 4,000 millionaires.  In the overall scheme of things this is a drop in the bucket and would do nothing to reduce the deficit, let alone the debt, which is expected to reach $16 Trillion by the end of 2012.

President Obama's tax information points out a couple of hypocrisies, first the President who has often touted that millionaires and he himself should pay a little more, does not qualify for the "Buffet Rule" and he has also used the tax code, legally, to his advantage by donating $48,000, a tax deduction, to his daughters.  It raises the question, ethically, if the President practices what he preaches.

"President Obama and his wife, Michele, gave a total of $48,000 in tax-free gifts to their daughters, according to tax records made public on Friday.
The president and his wife separately gave each daughter a $12,000 gift under a section of the federal tax code that exempts such donations from federal taxes.
There is nothing illegal about the president’s taking advantage of this tax shelter, but it does raise eyebrows given that he has lamented the myriad tax exemptions used by the wealthy—“millionaires and billionaires” like himself—to pay less in taxes. He has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to reform the byzantine tax code.
The Obama’s tax return indicates that the gifts, likely for their daughter’s college educations, began in 2007, when the maximum exemptible amount was $24,000 per couple. The maximum exemption has since increased to $26,000 per couple."

With an economy on shaky ground, unemployment rates still above 8% and pump prices hitting the roof, the "War on Women", the Buffett Rule and personal income tax returns are nothing but diversions, detracting from the real issues that every day Americans deal with.  There are also a myriad of trouble spots around the world, which require close attention, least of all Iran, North Korea, Syria and the ongoing decade old war in Afghanistan.  The public can only hope that the election debate addresses those issues and ceases the gimmickry of side issues. 

Frankly it is the tax code that requires a restructure, not information on what a candidate has earned or claimed legally.   The plea to both campaigns is to address what ails America and stop the gimmickry.  Give the voters some credit for common sense, we can see through the gimmicks. 


  1. We sure can see through the gimmickry, and it is getting so frustrating! To paraphrase Romney in his speech yesterday..'let's get the country back to where we can stand a little straighter, and walk a little taller!' Get back what the country has's called PRIDE!

  2. Grant, thank you for commenting. Yes these campaign diversions and gimmicks just take away from reality. Let's talk about the record over the past 3 and a half years. It requires someone to take responsibility.