Together Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have put human faces on how the super-rich game the tax system to pay less, pay later and sometimes not pay at all. Both want to expand tax favors for the already rich, like themselves.
Their approach favors dynastic wealth with largely tax-free (Romney) or completely tax-free (Ryan) lifestyles, encouraging future generations of shiftless inheritors. What we need instead is a tax system that encourages strivers in competitive markets, not a perpetual oligarchy.
Romney and Ryan say that lowering tax rates and reducing or eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends, while letting huge fortunes pass untaxed to heirs, will boost economic growth and mean prosperity for all.
We already tried parts of that, starting with Ronald Reagan in 1981 and doubling down with George W. Bush in 2001. Empirical result: Flat to falling incomes for the vast majority, weak job growth, but skyrocketing incomes for the top one percent of the top one percent, including Romney.
Romney, shifting the Republican focus away from red ink budgets, wants to slash income tax rates by 20 percent. Ryan has called for a 10 percent rate for married couples on the first $100,000, 25 percent above that. The details of both plans show they primarily benefit the highest paid and already rich, as multiple independent examinations have documented.
Romney also wants to greatly increase dynastic wealth by eliminating the estate tax, which I believe would have a devastating effect on future economic growth, entrepreneurship and social stability.
His plan would retain the gift tax, but it is already so porous that, as Reuters reported in January, the five Romney sons enjoy tax-free income from a $100 million trust fund on which no gift taxes were paid. Only about $2 million could have originally gone into the trust without triggering gift taxes.
Under Romney’s plan your economic future would be determined the same way it was in 18th Century France – primarily by who you picked as your parents, not by hard work, perseverance and that illusive element of luck.
Romney also wants to slash middle class spending programs, but despite issuing a 160-page plan he has not said just what he wants to cut or eliminate, asking voters to buy a pig in a poke.
Slashing tax rates, keeping the share of income taxes paid by the top unchanged and increasing military spending without any additional red ink may win votes from innumerates, but it is a mathematical impossibility. What is a mathematical certainty is that Romney would cut taxes on the rich and that everyone below the top would get a lot less back in services from the government.