Tax Fairness High on the President’s List & a Video on Mitt’s Offshore Accounts

Greg Sargent is reporting in his Morning Round-up on the Plum Line that President Obama will today reiterate his intention to end the Bush-era tax cuts on affluent people making more than $250,000 annually. To be precise, the reversion to higher rates, those that prevailed in the 90s when the economy did much better than in the 2000s, would actually apply only to that portion of their income above $250K, not on the amount below it. This fact won’t quell the outcry from the right-wing who are already claiming it’s a tax hike on small businesses, but that’s just rhetoric. As Sargent explains, the key point of tax fairness is one that the president will be campaigning on through the fall, offering potent contrast with Mitt Romney’s stated policies, and to Mitt’s own taxes. The Obama campaign will also use the issue to highlight the Republican candidate’s stunning lack of transparency about his finances, and the rate at which he pays taxes.

In this same vein, be sure to read Paul Krugman’s column today, Mitt’s Gray Areas, where as Sargent observes,

“Romney’s refusal to be transparent about his own finances suggests he doesn’t want to reveal the extent to which he would personally benefit from the policies he’s advocating, because so doing would be deeply damaging.”

Meantime, on my tumblr I’ve posted a new video from the Obama campaign, asking key questions about Mitt Romney’s offshore investments, including Sankaty High Yield Assets, the fund he transferred to his wife in 2003, the day before he was sworn in as MA governor. For convenience, the video is also right here. Share it around if you like, as Mitt’s offshore holdings bear a lot more scrutiny. Clearly, the Obama campaign is hoping that the media will continue reporting on Mitt’s opaque finances, with many unanswered questions about his investments and holdings.


More Questions about Mitt’s Money

Update: The Obama Campaign jumped right on the AP story on Mitt’s finances that I blogged about yesterday. Above is the video they’ve made about the issues raised by the story. It includes numerous statements from voters on Mitt’s offshore money. In the statement accompanying the video campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt says,

“Yesterday’s Associated Press story raises serious questions about whether Mitt Romney established a Bermuda corporation to avoid U.S. taxes and attempted to hide it from the public. According to the report, Romney transferred the mysterious corporation to a blind trust in his wife’s name one day before taking office as Governor in order to avoid disclosure. In fact, he left this entity off of seven different personal financial disclosure statements he was required to file under state and federal law since 2001. We already know about Romney’s $3 million Swiss bank account and millions of dollars of investments in foreign tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Bermuda does not tax corporate income or capital gains. Until Romney releases additional years of tax returns, the American people will never know whether he created this shell corporation to intentionally avoid paying U.S. taxes. What is Mitt Romney trying to hide?”

For my part, I hope reporters keep asking questions about the registered-in-Bermuda Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors, Ltd. Though it’s a mouthful to say, I think this opaque Romney-owned investment vehicle could have a lot of resonance with voters.

The Obama Campaign, Punching Early and Hard

So much political news the past few days, much of it about the anniversary of the raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed, and I’ve linked to some excellent pieces on that below*. Meantime, I really like how aggressively the #Obama2012 campaign is setting out to define Romney. While the Bin Laden dust-up is getting more coverage, yesterday there was this ad that ended with the line, It’s just what you expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account, and now today it’s backed up with this infographic I saw on TPM showing Mitt’s foreign investment holdings. One hopes that at least some press people will be asking Romney’s people about these offshore accounts, and keep them on turf they’d rather not have to defend.

Mitt had such lousy opponents in the Republican primary that I detect he and his campaign are ill-prepared for what’s going to hit them in terms of coordinated opposition messages, one layered on top of another.  The copy below is straight from the Obama-Biden website, as is the graphic whose name on the jpeg is “Romney_World Map”. 

Mitt Romney has invested his money around the world, from the Cayman Islands to Ireland to Australia. We don’t know if he’s using these accounts to avoid paying his fair share in taxes, but we do know that in 2010, Romney’s tax rate was a startlingly low 13.9%. This means Romney pays a lower tax rate than many teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other middle-class Americans—even a lower rate than most other millionaires.
If elected, Romney’s proposed tax plan would cut tax rates for the wealthy even further—cutting his own taxes and protecting loopholes that he benefits from. At the same time, he opposes the President’s Buffett Rule, which would require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. That’s not right.

Another salutary benefit of this early aggressiveness will be to energize the DEM base, which will be delighted to see the campaign’s determination to play rough–accurate and tough. For sure, there will be people in the press who decry this aggression, but as Josh Marshall has repeatedly pointed out with his bitch-slap theory of politics, if you can make your opponent look weak, or even, in old-fashioned gender terms, “un-man him,” you’re on the way to winning your race. I’m still worried about the enormous amount of Super-Pac spending that is going to be thrown against the president (and other DEMs) but there’s no question which candidate is running the better campaign at this point.

*See this collection of excellent journalism and commentary from the past couple days:

1) David Corn’s excellent tick-tock on the Bin Laden raid and the president’s decision to launch it. PBO is a cool customer. Read this and I think you’ll see what I mean.

2) Rick Ungar’s piece on, about what he believes is the bad character revealed by Mitt’s cheap “Jimmy Carter” shot. What’s more, I would add, it undercut his supposed point. It was stupid politics, while revealing a bad heart, at least over this.

3) James Fallows up-close recollection of President Carter’s failed raid to free the American hostages in Iran, and why Romney got the point so wrong.

4) And two pieces, one by Jed Lewison in Daily Kos, and the other by Michael Hirsh in National Journal, about the real politicization of 9/11, including Mitt’s appearance today in lower Manhattan with Rudy Giuliani.

How Long is Mitt Willing to Get Pummeled Over His Tax Returns?

Mitt Romney has just handed the Obama team a doozy of an issue to club him with. Romney said today that he won’t release his tax returns if he’s the Republican nominee, even though all major party candidates going back decades have done so. This is probably because most of his vast income comes from capital gains and is thus taxed at 15%, rather than the higher rate on which most taxpayers are assessed. The DEMs have already put up a clever website What Mitt Pays that caculates what ordinary folks pay, compared to what Mitt’s probably paying. //more