On Friday September 21 Mitt Romney released his 2011 federal income tax return after certain partisan democrats have used his lack of financial transparency to paint him as an out-of-touch plutocrat. After the returns were released it very quickly became news that his tax rate was 14% or 2 million dollars. Not only did his returns show he paid 2 million in just federal income tax, but it also showed that he donated $4 million to charity.
His returns show that of the $4 million he donated to charity, he only deducted $2.25 million of those donations to avoid the asinine media circus that would have ensued if the former governor had deducted the full amount, because his tax rate would have dropped below 13%. 13% was the number he had earlier sworn he never had paid less than, so releasing a return indicating he paid the 12.5% many estimate he actually had to, would have led to further political posturing and grandstanding about his personal fortune.
While an election is undoubtably one of the best times to have a national discussion on the tax code and its many complexities, imperfections, and loopholes, the attempt to make his money an issue in the campaign is infantile. Plenty of people might be predisposed to believe that Romney has played the system to reduce his tax burden to what some might call unfair levels, but focusing on such things distorts the mind-boggling amount of issues the President will have to deal with. A campaign that focuses on petty issues and mud-slinging is unlikely to produce a candidate that can negotiate a compromise on the economic time bomb America will face without a shared sacrifice.