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September 8, 2012

Why the Democrats are Fixated on Mitt Romney's Taxes

So what is it about the Democrats that they are so fixated on seeing Mitt Romney's tax returns? Part of it I think is just that political junkies key in on certain things like a dog latching onto your ankle, and the whole thing assumes monumental importance in their minds. The universe swirls around this one issue to the point where nothing else he or she does or stands for matters a whit.

And part of it is the usual double standard in politics; if their side does it we care, if our side does it we excuse it away. As I recently demonstrated, it is most curious that the liberals fixate on Paul Ryan's marathon time while studiously ignoring Joe Biden's lies over his academic record. Yes, this occurs on our side too.

A recent article in National Review made me realize there's more going on. Mitt Romney is an amazingly generous person, who has devoted untold hours and much of his personal treasure to helping other people. In other words, he contributes a lot of time and money to charity.

And boy does this drive liberals nuts.

Romney's Taxes and the Liberal Mindset
Democrats want to show they care by spending other people's money.
By Michael Tanner
September 5, 2012

...Romney also donated an additional 13.8 percent of his income to charity, nearly $3 million. When the Romney campaign mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, Democrats were quick to dismiss it as substantively different from and less important than paying taxes. In fact, some suggested that such large charitable contributions might actually be a form of tax evasion, since they were tax-deductible. By helping people on his own, Romney was undermining government charity. "Charity is not democracy," complained Garrett Gruener, who helped found Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a pro-tax group.

At the same time, the Obama administration was upset that Americans still resisted turning to government programs when they hit hard times. Responding to a poll showing that most Americans were far more likely to rely on family, personal savings, or other forms of aid than on government, the Obama administration hastened to put out word that "given that only 15 percent of you turn to government assistance in tough times, we want you to know about the benefits that could help you," according to USA.gov's "government made easy" website.

...we've long known that conservatives and libertarians, on average, contribute significantly more to charity than do modern liberals. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup poll, Americans who described themselves as "very conservative" gave 4.5 percent of their income to charity, on average; self-described "conservatives" gave 3.6 percent; and "moderates" gave 3 percent; while "liberals" gave just 1.5 percent; and "very liberal" Americans gave barely 1.2 percent.

Those who voluntarily give the least are the same people who will spend the next few nights in Charlotte telling us how much they care, while demanding that the government take more from the rest of us by force through higher taxes.

This is not really the contradiction it seems. Rather, it reflects the mindset of modern liberals, such as President Obama and his supporters, who fundamentally discount, indeed distrust, the actions of private individuals and businesses. To modern liberalism, anything truly important must be done by government -- can only be done by government. The myriad institutions of civil society are a distraction at best, an unwelcome competitor at worst.

This is an attitude that goes far beyond charitable giving....Remember Julia, the Obama campaign's sad vision of a composite American, who can't do anything, from going to school to starting a business to buying her own birth control, without the government's help.

The president's oft-quoted "you didn't build that" remark, even in context, reflects this basic idea of government primacy. It is government, the president believes, that makes all else possible. That is why the president repeatedly expresses concern over cutbacks in government spending, while observing that "the private sector is doing just fine."

I do believe that Mr. Tanner is on to something. In a 2009 post titled The Left's War on Charities, I wrote about how Obama and the left have a simple objective; they want total control of how aid to the poor is distributed. They'd like government to do as much as possible, and failing that the want to control what private charities do. They don't like or trust private charity, and consider the government noble.

What this adds up to is that liberals are ok with charitable donations, as long as it doesn't reduce the amount of money you pay the government in taxes too much.

Being a liberal is all about feeling guilty and relieving your feelings of guilt by voting the right way and paying whatever they consider the appropriate amount of taxes. Giving time or money to charity doesn't really count, and besides, it's all too much trouble.

But in fact it's the other way around. While I have no problem with, and indeed support, a government safety net (though smaller than the one we currently have), it is only private charity that counts. And best of all, private charity that you don't publicly reveal. If you're not sure why, what follows is instructive:

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

In other words, giving to the poor only counts with God if you do it yourself without forcing others to go along, and of course without bragging about it.

Not to say that many liberals do not give time and/or money to charity, or that all conservatives do. Clearly there are liberals who do give time and/or money and conservatives who do not.

So bragging that you are willing to pay high.er taxes to take care of the poor gets you a big fat Zero with me and with God. Sorry, but I'm only impressed when you spend your own time and money without forcing others to go along.

Back to Mitt's taxes. I realize there are other stated reasons why the liberals say they need to see his taxes, but none of them are valid.

They say they need to make sure he's not breaking the law. But in this country it's innocent until proven guilty, and running for office doesn't change that.

They say that Obama has released more years of his returns, so this would only make it fair. One, Obama was stupid to release so many years when it's all irrelevant anyway, two he does not set the standard, and three when he releases his college transcripts and tells his AG Eric Holder to release the Fast and Furious information I'll be interested.

They also say they want to make sure he's paying his "fair share." One, you liberals don't get to determine what "fair share" is. Two, as long as all tax deductions are legal then paying zero taxes is fair. If you don't like that someone pays very little taxes because of the deductions they took then change the law or shut up. Obama and the Democrats had total control of the government for two years and if they didn't rescind these supposedly terrible deductions or abilities to shelter money then they should have but it's too bad now.

Or are the liberals saying that you should not take all of the deductions that you are legally able to take or shelter as much money as you can? Are they saying that there is some mystical amount whereby if you see you're paying less than x amount you should say "ok I won't take those deductions even though I could legally do so?" That people should purposely turn down deductions or not take advantage of tax shelters? This turns doing your tax return into a guessing game, which is insane.

More, we really know it's all about politics. If Romney was pro-abortion oops, "pro-choice," and pro gay marriage, and was a Democrat, the liberals would not care about his taxes. John Kerry famously saved a half a million dollars in taxes by docking his yacht in nearby Rhode Island, and he was a major speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

My guess is that this entire issue is the type of thing that really only impresses political junkies and will not swing any significant number of votes. This election will be decided on who the public believes has the best plan for America, and who can be trusted to carry it forth.

Not only that, but while government programs certainly have their role, they should not be nearly as all-consuming as they are now. They make wild promises of future benefits that can not be paid in any economic scenario. Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable. Pensions promised to government workers at the state and city level around the country are unsustainable, and the piper for some of them is demanding to be paid, with bankruptcy as often as not the result. The whole thing simply does not work for the long run, the only thing that counts.

More than the economics of the matter, though, it comes down to your vision of America. Do you see it as a giant welfare state funded by massive taxes or do you see it as a collection of individuals, most of them taking their own time and effort to contribute, or "give back" to their community. When government does so much, it diminishes the desire to do good yourself, to contribute your own time and money. It's more than a matter of "I pay too much in taxes to contribute," it's more of a mentality.

That mentality of charitable giving is a very good thing, both for the individual both on the giving and receiving ends, and for the community as a whole. And the best way to encourage that mentality is to limit what government does. This is one of the fundamental differences between the conservative and liberal, or progressive, visions of America.

Posted by Tom at September 8, 2012 8:00 PM

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The biggest problem for you and Romney is that he's sinking in the polls, in key states like Ohio and Virginia, even without the Obama campaign making a lot of noise in recent weeks about the tax return issue. The American electorate doesn't like Romney or the way he has capitulated to the extreme right on almost every issue. We know a fraud when we see one.

Posted by: Rwnutbag at September 10, 2012 7:49 AM

A more honest assessment is that the race is a dead heat and can go either direction. See here for a state by state some pretty straight analysis.

Posted by: The Redhunter Author Profile Page at September 10, 2012 5:21 PM

When you describe Romney's status in the race as a "dead heat", you are half correct...his campaign IS dead.

Posted by: Rwnutjob at September 10, 2012 9:36 PM

What Nutjob does not understand is that it's possible Obama has already peaked. He cannot break 50% on a consistent basis.

Posted by: Mike's America at September 11, 2012 3:14 PM

Appropriately naming himself, Nutjob is incapable of serious analysis.

Posted by: The Redhunter Author Profile Page at September 11, 2012 8:51 PM

My analysis may not seem serious, but it will turn out to be correct. By the way, Tom, I appreciate you allowing me to maintain my nomme de plume (pardon my French; I know how French things offend you guys), unlike Mike, who went all Big Brother on me and forced me to change my name.

Posted by: Rw nutbag at September 12, 2012 10:27 PM

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