The Corner

Key Test for the Romney Campaign

A competent presidential campaign, one that could really pose a challenge to a sitting president with a massive war chest and organization, would never settle for the media spin that Mitt Romney had a 15 percent federal tax burden over the past two years.

A competent campaign, and candidate, would explain that Romney’s real federal tax rate on his investment income was more than 40 percent (being conservative, after deductions and such), since the revenue stream was subject to both a personal tax rate and the corporate tax rate. A competent campaign would then point out that state taxes would bring the effective income tax rate on Romney’s investment income to 50 percent or higher. Every time a reporter or opposing candidate tried to say Romney’s tax rate was 15 percent, a competent campaign would call them out for misleading the American people.

A competent campaign would then point out that this effective income tax rate of 50 percent is much, much higher than what the average worker pays in federal and state taxes on wage income. Such a campaign would then say that by taxing investment so punitively and then redistributing the revenue to failed  giveway programs and government boondoggles, America is eating its seed corn and deterring investors from creating new jobs.

Is the Romney campaign competent? Is Romney himself? If they can’t do this, they can’t beat Obama in the fall.

John Hood is president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina-based grantmaker. His latest book is a novel, Mountain Folk (Defiance Press, 2021).


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