Friday, July 27, 2012

'One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others'

... and we're not talking Sesame Street here. Via l'Enfant de la Haute Mer in comments, we have an article by Lee Drutman at the Sunlight Foundation comparing Mitt Rmoney's taxes... the very small amount he has graciously condescended to let us know about them [/snark]... to those of other recent presidents, starting with Poppy Bush in some cases and Saint Ronald Reagan in others. Several aspects are compared and presented:
  • a scatter plot of adjusted gross income against effective tax rate;
  • a simple bar graph of capital gains taxes,
  • a chart of the length in pages of the presidents' tax returns.
See Drutman's article for the actual graphs.

The most striking is the adjusted gross income vs. tax rate. Rmoney has the highest AGI of any president listed, and also the lowest effective tax rate, so much so that the income axis had to be extended above $20 million just to show Rmoney's income. No president in recent history comes close: the second largest were Obama's 2007 and 2009 incomes, bracketing $5 million, and most of the other presidents hover around... I kid you not... zero, presumably the result of hiring a good accountant to do the adjusting.

Rmoney's capital gains income, for the two years for which the amount is publicly known, again blows out the top of the chart. Again, perhaps the other presidents hired better tax accountants. Do you believe that? Me neither. Rmoney had no earned income at all, again for the two years we know anything about. It must be nice...

Finally, the length of the returns. Again, for the two years King Rmoney has deigned to tell us about, his returns are in the vicinity of 200 pages and 100 pages; at a glance and without calculating, I'd say the median length from Reagan through Obama is around 20 or 25 pages. Again, Obama takes second place in the dead tree division (unless he submitted electronically).

Tell me this: how can a man as rich as Rmoney even remotely begin to identify with the challenges facing the typical middle-class American family, let alone a poor one? I do not begrudge Rmoney his wealth (though the way he acquired it would do credit to a Star Trek Ferengi), or all the homes, planes, yachts, cars and whatever other toys he owns. But the presidency is not a toy, and no one should buy it just because s/he can. Rmoney's insensitivity to the lives of ordinary Americans is only one of many ways in which he is completely unsuited to be president.

We have had one president in the past century who at least to some degree overcame his family's extreme wealth to become an effective president at a time of economic disaster at least as great as in our own time. That was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I think I can say without reservation: Mittens, you're no FDR.


  1. my FDR’s Second Bill of Rights (just four days ago):

  2. Thanks, Enfant. For the second time today, I'm about to use the material you've pointed out to me, in this case, by excerpting the "rights" segment of FDR's speech. Many thanks for your help.

  3. It is my pleasure if I could help.

    As you understand, this post was about the horrors we live in Greece, but also for the entire Western world that sinks in generalized abolition of rights..



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