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What We Still Don’t Know About Mitt Romney’s Taxes

Romney released his 2011 tax return and other
information recently. So what else is there to know?

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This article has been updated to include new reporting. It was first published on Oct. 1.

Oct. 2: This article has been clarified.

With the documents Mitt Romney released recently, we know a bit more about his taxes.

We know, for instance, that Romney paid a rate of 14.1 percent on $13.7 million in income on his 2011 tax return, which he achieved by purposely overpaying. Though he was entitled to deduct $4 million in charitable contributions, Romney deducted only $2.25 million to keep his tax rate above 13 percent.

(Romney, it has been pointed out, could file an amended return to claim the full deduction after the election. We've contacted the Romney campaign, and Michele Davis, a spokeswoman, assured us he would not do so.)

We know, according to a letter from his accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers, that Romney has paid state and federal income taxes each year since at least 1990, which would seem to disprove Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim in July that Romney had not paid any taxes for a decade.

And we know that Romney’s tax rate since 1990 never dipped below 13.66 percent, according to his accountants. Romney paid an average effective tax rate between 1990 and 2009 of 20.2 percent.

But there’s still a lot we don’t know. “I think most of the major questions we had before [last Friday] are still out there,” said Brian Galle, a tax law professor at Boston College. Here are a few: 

How much did Romney make before 2010?

While Romney has disclosed his average effective tax rate for the last two decades, he hasn’t said how much he earned in those years or how much — the dollar amount — he paid in taxes.

That’s an important distinction, said Daniel Shaviro, a tax law professor at New York University. Various tax-planning strategies may have enabled Romney to reduce his adjusted gross income in some years.

In 2008, for instance, investors everywhere lost money when the stock market tanked. Romney may have carried those losses forward, Shaviro said, and used them to reduce his adjusted gross income in 2009. While we know Romney paid at least 13.66 percent of the income he recorded on his taxes in a given year, we don’t know what percentage he paid of the money actually took home that year.

Why is Romney’s IRA worth so much?

Much of Romney’s wealth sits in his IRA, which is worth as much as $101.6 million. It’s a remarkable number, in part because Romney would have been able to contribute a maximum of $30,000 a year to his IRA while he was at Bain, from 1984 to 1999.

Galle, the Boston College tax law professor, said the most likely explanation for the outsized IRA is that Romney put in shares in Bain investments that swelled in value. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bain allowed employees to buy a special class of shares in the firm’s investments. The shares didn’t cost very much, but they could be extremely lucrative. In one deal, the Journal reported, “some Bain employees saw a 583-fold increase” in the value of their shares — an astronomical return. Because the shares were in IRAs, the profits could be plowed into new Bain deals without subtracting taxes.

Romney also may have beefed up his IRA by contributing “carried interest” — a share of the profits in funds managed by Bain. As Reuters reported earlier this year, any potential carried interest would “not be disclosed in his personal financial summary or on a federal income tax return.” In other words, even if Romney released all his tax returns, we still might not know exactly how he accumulated his huge IRA.

What about Romney’s investments offshore?

We know many of Romney’s IRA investments are based in foreign countries but it’s hard to know how much. He valued one account in the Cayman Islands at anywhere between $5 million and $25 million.  

One thing we do know is that Romney pays a far lower tax rate overseas than he does here. According to Quartz, Romney paid only 2.4 percent in foreign taxes in 2011 on the $3.5 million he earned abroad. (Romney also had to pay U.S. taxes on his foreign income, after deducting the foreign taxes he paid.)

We also know where Romney’s current overseas investments are held —Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Luxembourg — and many of the firms he has invested in, including a state-owned Chinese oil company and a Chinese bank that Romney’s family trusts sold their stake in last year. But we don’t have a lot of other important documentation, including forms would show whether Romney had, as the New York Times has reported, “over the years declared all of his foreign income to the IRS in a timely manner.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Romney’s offshore IRA investments likely helped him avoid a little-known tax called the unrelated business income tax. The tax, “meant to discourage tax-exempt entities such as an IRA or college endowment fund from unfairly competing with for-profit, taxpaying entities by operating a business without paying taxes on it,” could have hit Romney at up to 35 percent.

The Romney campaign seems unlikely to release any more information about his finances, but that hasn’t kept reporters from digging it up. Bloomberg, for instance, analyzed securities filings to report last Thursday that Romney has set up a type of trust known as an “I Dig It” trust — a legal way for Romney to avoid estate and gift taxes and pass some of his fortune onto future generations.

And the New York Times shed a bit more light on Romney's offshore holdings on Tuesday. The Times obtained documents that included a confidential offering memorandum for an offshore fund in which Romney's wife, Ann, has an interest. The memo states that the fund is designed to "accommodate qualified non-U.S. investors and U.S. tax-exempt investors" — making it, in other words, a tax haven. A similar fund in Delaware, the memo noted, would likely be hit with the unrelated business income tax.

Clarification: This article has been clarified to reflect that Romney also had to pay U.S. taxes on his foreign income, after deducting the foreign taxes he paid.

Congress passes laws that make Tax Avoidance legal.  Congress is lobbied by accounting firms to make changes to the tax code.  Congress and politicians use these laws and tax codes to pay less taxes.  Mitt Romney is not breaking the law.  He is donating more of his time and money than the people that are bashing him.

Joe, this isn’t about illegality.  When a candidate campaigns on his ability to manage money, how he manages money needs to be on the table.

When that candidate, for example, says that he should be disqualified from the Presidency if he ever paid more taxes than he absolutely needed to and turns out to have done exactly that, something is amiss.

That’s not a vote of support for Obama, whose administration has continued the very worst of the Bush administration and smiled doing it.  But the fact that there’s no law broken doesn’t make Romney’s tax situation less newsworthy when it’s the centerpiece of his strategy.

Lets see those transcripts Mr. Obama !

It is so hilarious to see Republicans get up in arms when well-written articles point out facts like these! “Rick” - what does your comment even mean? When has there ever been an expectation for Presidential nominees to provide college transcripts? If so, ho were Bush’s? That’s right, you’re wrong, and you’re embarrassing yourself and you’re making many Republicans look really ignorant and bitter when in fact I know many who are intelligent and pleasant. The bottom line is that, for whatever reason (we do no know) Romney refuses to release his tax returns for prior to 2011. That we do know. It is a fact. Even is father - HIS FATHER - released twelve years - and said himself that that should be expected of nominees - HOLY BARNACLES! Rick: you look like an idiot. And you put Republicans to shame. Warm Regards.

Clinton donated underwear as a tax right off and he still remains a hero?

Make millions, donate millions and there is something amiss?  What is amiss?

Are you saying it is OK to do what Mitt did with his taxes as long as he doesn’t talk about it?

@brian

GWB didn’t want to release his college records….but he did admit he was a poor student…many C’s he said.

Then his college records were ILLEGALLY released anyway…and guess what…he was a poor student…many C’s.

Obama and his pack of cronies have claimed the man is too ‘professorial’ and ‘too intellectual to reach the people sometimes.’

Why isn’t the media as interested in seeing if Obama is a liar about his intellect when they were so sure they would find out GWB was a liar about his (which clearly he wasn’t lying…and his grades were better then Kerrys).

The irony your missing, dear boy, is that while the media slobs drool down their faces at attacks on Romneys supposed ‘illegal tax records,’ there zeal stops short of questioning anything the current president has ever done or said.

And that, dear boy, is what is truly frightening.

clarence swinney

Oct. 1, 2012, 9:34 a.m.

Tax wealth big time pay down debt

TAX CUTS
Republicans slash taxes for the middle class? Like Bush Tax Cuts?
Top 1% got 37.6%—Top 5% got 48.3%
Bottom 60% got 16.4%. Luckie duckies?

Republicans will not be satisfied until we pass Chile and Mexico as Least taxed in oecd nations.
We rank third. We take 27% of gdp in federal-state-local taxes. Rank 4th on Inequality.
Top 50% take 86% of individual income. 70,000,000 get 14% yet pay full payroll tax out of measly income.

In 2011, Corporate paid 12.1% Tax Rate yet scream 35% rate is highest in world cut it cut cut it.

2013 budget calls for taxes of 2900B and borrow 900B. Dumb. Our income is 14,000B yet we borrow 900B? That is 900B the richest will keep in their pocket. Since 1980, We borrowed 15,000 Billion
and did not tax enough which allowed rich to get very rich.

It will take a tax system like 1945-1980 that paid down WWII debt. It will take decades.
We CAN do it. Remember the great domestic growth even with those high tax rates?
We Must do it. The rich have taken us to the cleaners. War. Cut Tax. Huh?

Bush huge tax cut assisted in our debt going from 5800 to 11,900 Billion. Doubled.
Clinton last budget ended 9-30-01 with 5800B of debt. Bush last budget ended 9-30-09 with 11,900B of debt.

From 1980—2009, three Republican presidents and Debt grew by 9000B. It has grown
by 4100B under Obama three budgets. But! About one-third is from Bush three “New” programs.
CBO study revealed that 2001-2010 Bush “new” programs created 5100B of debt.

We MUST cut spending in Defense And Medicare plus increase revenue from taxes on rich estates and incomes. Is it not sad that one family owns more wealth than 90% of families. Tax rates 1945-10980 would have prevented it. The Great middle Class needs a break. clarence swinney

John Fernandes

Oct. 1, 2012, 9:45 a.m.

Romney has had his accountants prepare a synopsis of taxes. They show he avoided lots of tax on his income. So why the secrecy? Surely paying 13% or 14% on millions of income has no more impact or less impact without the detail that the returns would show. So why? Is it that Romney has to avail himself of the IRS amnesty for rich tax cheats with Swiss accounts? The accounts themselves are and were not illegal, but hiding any taxable returns because they were secret accounts was and is illegal. There are few other plausible arguements for keeping them secret. The fact that Bain/Romney is under investigation for tax fraud for illegal recharacterizing income makes me think he has a lot to hide.

...and the distraction from the real issues continues!  Why doesn’t Romney simply declare these tax issues to be nothing more than ‘bumps in the road’ like Obama did so successfully with the assassination of our Ambassador to Libya during a terrorist attack on our embassy and move on?  His poll numbers would get a much bigger jolt if he focused on giving the ladies of “The View” goose bumps.

We do know he pays little or no tax. We do know he scammed us with a sham return prepared to be amended at a much lower rate

FYI -
The Obama campaign has paid staffers to post comments on news stories and blogs such as this.

A lot of the insinuations and insanity you read will come from them.

If it looks rushed, spelling errors, or one quick shot with nothing valid to back it up it’s likely an Obama sniper.

They are doing shout outs to the least intelligent voters that can’t handle more than 2 lines of text.

Joe, first, Clinton committed perjury (which he dodged by floating a sex scandal in front of the Attention Deficit Congress—remember that Lewinsky was brought in by the prosecution to prove the charge, not as an additional charge) and probably several counts of treason, what with the various Chinese incident, so your threshold for “hero” might be a bit lower than mine.

Regardless, my point is that, when your campaign platform makes taxes a significant plank, your taxes are news.  So yes, if he didn’t bring them up, they might not be irrelevant, per se, but they wouldn’t be newsworthy as long as he didn’t break the law.

Now, I’m a bit of an extremist in these issues.  I think that part of the process of vetting the candidates should be to lay their entire histories bare and demand they account for it all.  So I support the “birthers” and similar groups (like with Rick’s transcripts) simply because we have a right—a duty, actually—to know who we’re electing.

But when a candidate’s recent history contradicts his own campaign, that’s a no-brainer.  If Ralph Nader (for example) campaigned on consumer protection issues, if he owned stock in anticonsumer companies, it’d be a big deal.  Likewise if Donald Trump was found building a commune up in the mountains.

(I’d include Obama, but I don’t think he’s campaigned on any issue other than he’s not a Republican, which is pretty easily verified.  But if he were to campaign on a civil liberties basis, I’d like to think a lot of people would be screaming about his voting record.)

Sorry, Mike9998, the goose bumps I get from Romney are because he is so creepy.  Every time I see him or hear him speak, my flesh crawls.

Elizabeth Davidson

Oct. 1, 2012, 11:26 a.m.

I am surprised Romney was able to contribute anything to his retirement accounts.  If he didn’t have any earnings except “carried interest” which isn’t taxed at the earned income rates, shouldn’t he have been ineligible to make a contribution to his retirement account?

ROFL, you Obama lovers (also known as job haters) just can’t let the nonissue, irrelevant, smoke-screen taxes garbage go away can you?

Is it because it is more fun to talk about than the fact that Obama has failed utterly on the economy, jobs, and more recently allowed our own ambassador to get slaughtered?

Yeah, let’s talk about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and the fact that he donates more than Obama’s net worth to charity… what an evil man! ...

John, like my Dad always said, when you find something you’re good at (distracting from real issues, e.g.), you stick with it!  If a few poor and middle class people get screwed in the process, well that’s their problem isn’t it?  They’re just ‘bumps in the road’!

Mike-

Hahahaha, exactly!

At first I read through this article with some real interest, then I realized that other than expecting a candidate to abide by the laws of the land, I really do not care about all of these details.  I never looked at the tax returns of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, Bush(43) or Obama.  It is enough they obeyed the law with their taxes.  Heck they are all millionaires at a minimum.  If the big deal really is that Romney is rich and it angers you that he only pays “x” amount, then send people to Congress that will make the tax code more rigorous.  Good luck with that most of Congress really has little interest in truly reforming the tax code (What ever that might mean).

Loretta Paraguassu

Oct. 1, 2012, 2:07 p.m.

It amazes me how thick the shells are—Putting solid information in front of some people just angers them. Bury it, bury it, bury it seems to be the theme song. The fact that all Romney’s hiding raises red flags doesn’t seem to impress his followers. They even seem to like it. For my money, that is very, very strange. When you point out WHY the hidden information reflects badly that just raises more hackles. Keep up the good work. I happen to love it.

As I understand it, the vast majority of the Romneys’ charitable giving was to the Mormon Church and its activities. If so, this reinforces the idea that he cares only about a limited group of people/Americans.

The IRS would be all over Romney if he cheated.  So if he didn’t cheat, close up the loopholes for EVERYBODY!  I am constantly amazed at the media attention for Romney’s taxes and little press is given for what is an obvious cover up on our country’s security and the murder of Ambassador Stevens, et al.  Can someone answer that for me without gratuitous ad hominem remarks?

I suggest that we leave the tax questions to the IRS.  All required returns have been filed with the Service and rumor has it that they audited some of them.  He also filed very detailed reports with the Feds and they have scrutinized that data. 

The chances are, if those critical of Romey’s returns were provided a copy of them, they could not make heads or tails of them anyway.

RT.com newsus, reported about his taxes and divestments in Russian corporations pre campaign, Gazprom , etal.  they had more, but I can’t remember all without looking again.
He’s also known for pushing GMO engineered biocrops for Monsanto via BAIN. He’s dangerous.

RT.com news us, reported about his taxes and divestments in Russian corporations pre campaign, Gazprom , etal.  they had more, but I can’t remember all without looking again.
He’s also known for pushing GMO engineered biocrops for Monsanto via BAIN. He’s dangerous.

I think the real reason the issue of Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns won’t go away is because Romney himself has said that he will pay for his proposed massive tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans by eliminating tax loopholes.

 

But which loopholes will Romney eliminate? HE REFUSES TO SAY. Which raises the obvious question: will he close the loopholes that HE uses to hide millions in foreign accounts and offshore tax shelters? Or does he only intend to eliminate deductions and credits that OTHER people use., e.g., the ones that middle-class families rely on?

 

This is why Romney’s secrecy is so maddening: We have no idea if his tax plan is a shamefully self-serving one that keeps the loopholes used by millionaires like him while cutting the ones used by middle-class families, since he refuses to release his returns (even his 2010 one is incomplete) and since he refuses to say anything SPECIFIC about his tax plan.

 

This seems to be his strategy: Just don’t say anything, don’t admit to anything, don’t divulge any specifics about anything—and hope that people just dislike the President enough to vote for anyone else.

p.s.

I do wish that Romney’s mandatory tithing to the Mormon Church would not be referred to as “charitable giving” in this context.

These are monies that have gone to build a luxury mall in downtown Salt Lake City,s buy stock in Burger King, etc, etc.

Nothing “charitable” about that.

Brian Wellberg

Oct. 1, 2012, 2:48 p.m.

@arthur s:

Today, 10:51 a.m.

@brian

GWB didn’t want to release his college records….but he did admit he was a poor student…many C’s he said.

Then his college records were ILLEGALLY released anyway…and guess what…he was a poor student…many C’s.

Obama and his pack of cronies have claimed the man is too ‘professorial’ and ‘too intellectual to reach the people sometimes.’

All you need to do is hear Obama speak.
Bush was an idiot, (even his C’s were bought)

And Romney is no intellectual heavy weight, by the way…
Listen to how candidates talk, how they express themselves.
Grades are not reflecting intelligence of those people, because grades can be bought. (And for bush and romney: they were bought, even if they were bad.)
Intelligence is not for sale…

But then again: this advice will be wasted on you since you have no intelligence to understand intelligence.
I do not like many things about Obama, but being stupid is not one of his faults.

This has become a game and a distraction. I am far more interested in that 80% of the green energy loans and grants in the administration’s program went to firms tightly linked to Obama bundlers and finance committee members. The union pay-offs and preferences in the GM bail-out bother me a lot, as do the increasingly close ties of lawyers for whistle-blowers with Obama campaign fund-raising. There seem to be serious preference and crony-capitalism issues and regardless of what you think Romney might do , it is the incumbents whose recent activity deserves at least half the scrutiny groups like Pro Publica are giving to Romney’s taxes.

This has become a game and a distraction. I am far more interested in the 80% of the green energy loans and grants in the administration’s alternative energy stimulus program which went to firms tightly linked to Obama bundlers and finance committee members. The union pay-offs and preferences in the GM bail-out bother me a lot, as do the increasingly close ties of lawyers for whistle-blowers with Obama campaign fund-raising. There seem to be serious preference and crony-capitalism issues, and regardless of what you think Romney might do , it is the incumbents whose recent activity deserves at least half the scrutiny groups like Pro Publica are giving to Romney’s taxes.

It is my belief and that of others that Romney and family got caught up in the UBS Swiss bank scandal. Where the Swiss bankers at UBS gave up all the Americans who secretly banked with them, in return they were able to continue having banks in America. The IRS then gave the Americans on that list, a chance to come clean, pay taxes, interest and fines and stay out of jail. Pat Riley, executivedeception.com

For an American, who worked most of his career at a US company, and continues to reside in the US, there is no reason to have accounts in Cayman and Bermuda other than avoid tax.  We really don’t need any further analysis.  I’m not saying its illegal, but he has availed himself of a method of reducing his tax that is only available for high income people.  And the necessary result of that is less revenue to the US government, and the US people, for which he now wants to be president.  He should just acknowledge these indisputable facts, and let the people decide whether it is enough to change their vote.

It’s HIS money!  If I had that much money and could us legal ways to save it, I would also.  How much money have each of these posters given to charity?  How about Biden or Obama or YOU!!  Since when did it become a crime to live in the US and be successful?  The word for the US now is JEALOUSY and how much free ‘stuff’ can I get from the government and let someone else pay for it.

spencer Lempert

Oct. 1, 2012, 3:09 p.m.

One other point that may be relevant.  Did Romney calculate his average effective tax rate at 20.2% based on (1) the total of his effective tax rates for the period 1990 to 2009 divided by 10, or (2) did he calculate the effective rate by totaling the taxes paid during that period divided by total taxable income (which is the more precise method).  Method (1) could produce a distorted number if for instance in a particular year he paid a higher effective rate but on a smaller amount of income versus another year if he paid a lower effective rate but on a larger amount of income.  His taxable income in the early years presumably was lower than later years.  Keep in mind the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 lowered the tax rates, including capital gain rates.  Without knowing the amount of taxable income, and the breakdown between ordinary income and capital gains, there is no way to know if the 20.2% number is appropriate or whether it has been manipulated to make Romney look better.

stuart has hit the nail on the head.  It takes money to make more money and most of the American public is unable to avail themselves of that possibility of investing out of the US.

Most everyone here, including ProPublica, has fallen for a diversionary tactic in order to ensure that the voting public never get to hear about some of the bombshells buried in Obamacare, or what the ravages of a $16 trillion debt will mean to every family, or the consistent trillion dollar budgets that this administration has run up each year, or the unacceptable and continuing unemployment numbers, and now the dishonest handling of the murder of an Ambassador, plus the fact that the entire middle East policy is unraveling. This election is about the record of the Obama administration. It’s been a colossal failure from beginning to end,

I refuse to refer to the proceeds of a corporate raider to be earnings. Should be called ’ takings ‘.  While perhaps ’ legal ‘, I feel they are not deserving of public acclaim.  I suppose that’s what all Mitt’s legal education was about. While Mitt may not be accountable to a court of law,  like Clinton he can be held up to public scrutiny for actions which are not illegal.

Dave,
  Re: Clinton.
  When did perjury, the offense for which Clinton was sanctioned, become legal?

Dave,
  Re: Clinton
  When did perjury, the offense for which Clinton was sanctioned, become legal?

I do not like Obama. I voted for W twice. But the Republican Party left me. I could not stuff down the feelings of nausea I had about the GOP by 2005. Since then, the GOP has gone absolutely Bat S—- Crazy! All this stuff about Obama being a Socialist Muslim born in Kenya. The same BS arguments against Obama Care, were made against Social Security and Medicare in the past. We spend more money per capita on medical care in this country than anyone else, yet the quality of our medical care is rated behind more than twenty other countries. A form of universal health-care much superior to what we’ve got under Obama care, would most probably have been passed, if conservative blue dog Democrats had not require placating. I am a retired self-employed lawyer, not in the PI field, who earned and paid income taxes and Social Security/Medicare, on a low six figure income from 1988 on, and never felt tax oppressed. Romney and the Republicans are going to get a butt whipping. This opinion comes to you from a moderate white Independent.

“voting public never get to hear about some of the bombshells buried in Obamacare,”

tell us what they are…

“$16 trillion debt”

only partly obama’s fault

“unacceptable and continuing unemployment numbers”

deep recession, only partly obama’s fault

Bruce Fernandes

Oct. 1, 2012, 5:27 p.m.

Get back to me when we find out what Obama is trying to hide in his Columbia school records.  If as some suspect he claimed status as a foreign transfer student this has nothing to do with birther stuff.  It would have everything to do with fraud if an American tried to pass himself off as a foreign transfer student.

The Right-Wing Tea Party stuff about Obama being a foreign exchange student (“birthers”) and his school transcripts and social security number being “sealed” is very wacky.

Apparently, Obama’s mother was prescient enough to have his birth announcement printed in a Honolulu newspaper, referencing the Hawaiian hospital in which he was born 47 years before he ran president to “hide” his real country of birth. (If that were true, you would have to wonder why she named him Barack Hussein Obama, seriously… ;)

On a couple of the other conspiracy theories: Everyone’s school records and social security numbers are “sealed.” Duh!

I think you all miss the real point of Romney’s reluctance to release his tax records !!  When Romney left Bain (supposedly) to rescue the Olympics, he moved his legal residence to Utah.  He paid state taxes in Utah.  But, after finishing the Olympics, he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts and ran into a big problem: Mass. law required him to be resident for 5 + years in order to be a candidate.  Therefore, he had to amend his tax forms to swear that he was a resident for all those years.  You get the point??  He lied to Massachusetts by stating he had never been a resident of Utah.  Maybe you think it is fine to have your lawyers find tax loopholes to save you a few million dollars, but do you want to elect a LIAR for a president??

What’s the complaint. Mitt’s history is he gives 35-40% of his income away.

13-15% to the Feds and the rest to the charities of his choosing.  How many of you support humanity by giving 40% of your income away?  I know you would prefer he give more to the Grand Distributors in Government…..only to wasted by the most ineffective and inefficient entity in the country.

Mitt gives more than his fair share.  Until you do the same, give it a rest!

Romney had made himself a security risk.  By keeping his tax shenanigans secret, if he were to become POTUS, any hostile or corrupt entity could influence him by threat of disclosure.  If he were applying for a security clearance, even the lowest level, he would be turned down flat.

JP - it’s not the “how much.” By refusing to release the returns, he’s making everyone suspicious. If he’d released them months ago, it probably wouldn’t be an issue now.

PaulStewartII

Oct. 1, 2012, 9:34 p.m.

America has a lot of entrenched problems in it’s electoral system. It has a number of problems in its political system. This is weighing it down and key to why the American people are unhappy with Congress and are concerned about where America is headed.

What America needs to lead her is not a Democrat or a Republican but an American. And I see that in Obama. He is trying to do what is right for the country, but he is fettered by the dynamics of current American politics.

There are only two parties. There can be no more because they are entrenched. It is a duopoly on power with huge barriers to entry for any other party. Mostly money related. Declaring your party is like declaring your religion. It is not helpful - it should be your choice and based on what is needed at the moment not on wedge issues. And with filibuster being the name of the game in Congress, and slander and lies, and blind ideology being the modus operandi of both parties but more so the GOP, and add to that limitless money in the system now, the whole thing is warped. I think it has actually been at the heart of the diminished democracy and reduced strength of the union that I am witnessing.

Romney is the wrong guy and seriously so. He is not really a businessman. He has been more of a pirate in a business suit. I say that in all seriousness. He takes his money and hides it in the Caribbean. How patriotic is that? If Kerry was a flip flopper, the Romney is whirling dervish of inconsistency. And he was born to a wealthy and powerful family. He has no idea how much of a sense of entitlement he has and how out of touch he is with real people.  Obama comes from the working class. Born of it, raised of it. He had his good fortune of course, but it is as earned as anything Romney ever earned.

I am not saying Obama is going to be any kind of savior. He never was. What he has is the right idea. America first, party second. In my humble estimation, he honestly believes that, and he also knows that he needs more than that to be able to get to a point where he can actually do that.

My own view is there needs to be more real parties. The system does not support that and that needs to be changed. But it is not in the interest of the powers that be to change it. They want power, they like power and they don’t generally use it for the good of the Nation and the people at large. That is supposed the be the essence of the American democracy and the American way. So it is in the hands of the people. People like you too.

Vote anyone who is not truly focused on what is right for America out of office. Find a way to discipline the politicians to dealing in a real way with real issues. Co-operatively and constructively and correctly. It is not right and not helpful to America for politicians to instead be drawing an imaginary dividing line down the country along the civil war fault lines. And stoking the flames. Not right at all.

Obama is closer to being focused on doing the right thing than most politicians in living memory. I think he deserves another 4 years. What he is putting forward, and indeed where he has been leading is not particularly bad, even for the wealthy. All the fear mongering on the right about communism and such is just futile given its all nonsense. People are not that stupid. Most anyway - the majority of what I would call right thinking Americans are almost never wrong.

PaulStewartII

Oct. 1, 2012, 9:35 p.m.

Personally, I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Build the economic engine of wealth. Keep a good hand on the till. Do use stimulus in bad times, but build the treasury for that in the good times. This is classic and proven economics.  Bush et all had an excellent chance to do that in the 8 years he had. Instead he blew it with all the spending on two wars, only one of which was justified, and on unfunded medicare and whatever, while also enacting dramatic tax cuts. The tax cuts might have made sense after building up the treasury and setting the country on a strong fundamental trajectory of surpluses and debt reduction. Instead he did just the opposite and worse he blew up the economy and financial system at the very end of his second term.

So during Bush’ years America was set on a course for bankruptcy, perhaps more so than intended ‘cause I don’t think the financial and economic crisis was intended.  The idea is simply that the next line of attack is that its all Obama’s fault and to solve it America has to destroy its basic support systems for the poor, the elderly, and now even the middle class. Health and yes unemployment etc. At present without reductions, it does not even do what developed countries do. Other countries can afford it yet for some reason America can’t. Not the right answer. 

On the social liberal side, keep religion out of the state and the state out of religion. And keep the state out of the bedrooms of the nation. No business there. Its a free country. Get the controversial social wedge issues out of the political arena. Keep them in the freak shows. That is where they belong.

This political system as it sits is no way for a country to be exceptional. All the division, the spewing of all the nastiness. Just look at the dialogue or lack of it on not only this site by pretty much every other one. The politicians, and I have to say more so on the right, have decided to move the people into low grade civil war in the hopes they don’t see them with there lust for power and to put their fingers in the cookie jar. At the expense of the Nation’s future, your future and your childrens’ future.

A good start on fixing this is to send a message to Congress. A strong one. Vote out the old obstructionist politicians. Give Obama leverage to take the country forward. He’s not perfect, but he’s defined a good path and direction. Let’s go!

Personally, I think America needs Obama. It is actually Obama’s footprints that remain at the RNC; and it is Obama who will move America Forward and rebuild the nation.

See Building a Nation; the change is you on my web site here:
http://www.allvoices.com/users/paulstewartII

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12889195-footprints-at-the-republican-national-convention-in-tampa-florida

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/13017922-its-the-dishonesty-stupid

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12903382-michele-obama-and-bill-clinton-lay-out-at-the-rnc-just-how-much-obama-believes-in-america-does-mitt-romney-believe-in-america-or-something-else?clear_cache=true

Life’s tough when you’re rich.

And seriously, why are there all these tax breaks?

Astounding, questions about Romney.
The guy has run before and press pretty much knows the guy.
MY PROBLEM is we know practically nothing about the stooge in the White House.
But to liberals it is not interesting, why not is my question??

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Buying Your Vote

Buying Your Vote: Dark Money and Big Data

ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues in the 2012 election you won't read about elsewhere.

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