No good deed goes undemagogued.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Friday released his 2011 tax return. Democrats instantly hammered him for doing exactly what they have demanded of the rich throughout their dirty class war.
Romney is mean, cold-hearted, uncaring, and incapable of connecting with his fellow man — or so Democrats insist. And yet Romney and his wife earned $13,696,951 in 2011, paid $1,935,708 in taxes, and donated $4,020,772 to charity. The Romneys’ donations equaled 208 percent of what they paid in taxes. The Romneys gave away 29.4 percent of what they made last year. This goes beyond tithing, the Biblical appeal to render onto others one tenth of what one reaps. This tops a 25 percent gratuity — considered a genuine example of generosity. The Romneys handed out nearly one third of their winnings in 2011.
How does this compare with Romney’s opponents for the White House?
The President and Mrs. Barack Obama made $789,674 last year, placing them deep within the dreaded “1 percent” — as luck would have it. (That notorious threshold applies to tax returns that report at least $343,927.) They gave $172,130 to charity, or 21.8 percent of their income.
And what about Vice President Joe “Back in Chains” Biden? He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, scored $379,035 in 2011. These 1 percenters gave away $5,540 — a whopping 1.5 percent of their income. As parsimonious as this seems, this actually is an improvement for the bleeding-heart Bidens. As Politico’s Josh Gerstein noted Friday, “When the Obama campaign released past tax returns for Biden in 2008, it was revealed that the Bidens donated just $3,690 to charity over 10 years — an average of $369 a year.”
So, confronted with this evidence that Romney’s heart might not be made of dry ice after all, Democrats paused and heartily applauded his philanthropy.
And then I woke up.
“Governor Romney is showing us what he does when the public is looking,” snapped Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “The true test of his character would be to show what he did when everyone was not looking at his taxes.”
Of course, everyone is not looking at Harry Reid’s tax returns, since this high priest of hypocrisy screams for more and more of Romney’s tax filings while stashing his own 1040s deep, deep, deep inside Yucca Mountain.
“People like Mitt Romney pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class families because of a set of complex loopholes and tax shelters only available to those at the top,” Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter growled to the Wall Street Journal.
Democrats whine that Romney shared $4,020,772 with others last year but deducted only $2,250,772 of that sum. This $1.77 million “under-deduction” yielded a tax “overpayment” of some $500,000, American University’s David Kautter estimated for the Wall Street Journal. For the Romneys, this created an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. This figure exceeds the 13 percent minimum federal tax rate that Romney estimated that he has paid over the past ten years.
So, Democrats loudly cheered the news that Romney sent the Treasury even more taxes than required — in essence paying more than his fair share and inflicting higher taxes on himself, just as Warren Buffet, Stephen King, and other rich leftists claim that they ache to do.
Instead, Democrats bellow that Romney “manipulated” his return to fabricate a tax rate above his self-declared 13 percent minimum rate. But if Romney had deducted all of his $4,020,772 in charitable donations, which would have been perfectly legal, the resulting 10.5 percent effective tax rate (as Kautter estimates it) would have launched a totally different series of attacks:
Romney was not “manipulating” his way into higher taxes but “writing off” his way to lower taxes so he could write off America’s middle class . . . yadda, yadda, yablah, blah, blatcetera.
It is physically impossible for Romney to satisfy the carpoholic Left.
If he liquidated his entire portfolio into $100 bills and handed out every last one in front of the Washington Monument, as soon as the last Benjamin left Romney’s fingers, the Left would be yelling at him for not having brought enough cash for everybody.
They then would demand that Romney remove and hand out his clothing.
Once Romney stripped bare, they would bark at him for standing naked in public and then file an indecent-exposure complaint with the metropolitan police department.
And as the squad car whisked him to jail, the Democrat Left would point to the exhaust pipe and condemn Romney for the auto emissions wafting down Constitution Avenue.
As the world burns, America has wasted too much time playing dueling tax returns.
Romney should use this endless and fruitless controversy to turn the tables on Obama and his allies.
If they really hate all of the loopholes, credits, and exemptions that honeycomb Romney’s 379-page tax return, then they should support a 15 percent flat tax with very few deductions, if any. It should accompany a globally hyper-competitive, 15 percent flat corporate tax, with extremely limited write-offs. “Down with the Tax Code!” should become Romney’s unlikely yet invigorating battle cry.
Such sweeping tax reform would give Romney a specific, game-changing plan that would electrify his flickering campaign and energize a high-voltage economic recovery after a Romney-Ryan victory.
If Obama and his Democrat party have a better idea, let’s hear it. Otherwise, they kindly should shut up. Staring at other people’s tax returns is no way to get America moving again.
— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News Contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.