Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Elitists: Swiss Cheese And K Street

This is what it's like when a one-percenter 0.006 percenter runs for president. Depending on the calculus, who'd a thunk Newt and President Obama are 99 percenters by comparison? Mitt Romney paid virtually no payroll taxes because, unlike most working Americans, he earned virtually no income. He didn't have a regular job, he paid a far lower taxable rate on his sizable investments — unearned income.

Mittens parked his investments in British overseas colonial territories Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, as well as in a Swiss bank account (Luxembourg too), where transnational millionaires and billionaires conceal their ill-gotten — or maybe not — gains, no questions asked.

Not exactly the politics of envy. The politics of privilege, yes. And considering Mittens' riff against those terrible European social welfare states, he certainly took advantage of one European social welfare benefit for mega-rich transnational tax evaders, crony capitalists, and money launderers that is out of reach for most regular folks in the 99 percent.

Interestingly, considering Mittens' Mexico family ties, it's quite possible his Swiss bank account gave Mittens one other thing  in common with Mexico. Drug lords. Mittens closed his Swiss bank account in 2010 because it might be "politically embarrassing." Oops. The proverbial closing the barn door Swiss bank account after the war horse ran off.

Quite the company he keeps.

It's not about envy. No one begrudges Romney for being rich and successful. But it is about how he made his millions, as a crony vulture capitalist, and about basic fairness, paying his fair share. Mittens had a tax rate of 14%, give or take some chump change in the hundreds of thousands. Newt paid his taxes at 31% and President Obama at 26%. Like the vast majority of Americans. It's about the fairness of the tax code that taxes earned income from workers who get a paycheck at twice the rate of those in the top 1-to-5 percent whose unearned income is from investments.

Newt the "historian" earned his $25,000 monthly historian's salary from Freddie Mac. With a fat paycheck. He leased K Street offices without being "a lobbyist." Rather, he was a venerable "influence peddler" which is a kinder way of saying consultant, trading his Washington insider's experience for dollars. That makes Newt a "populist" by today's Republican electorate standards, railing against the Washington and media "elites."

So, the choice comes down to a sleazy, pompous, grandiose, opportunistic, influence-peddling politician versus a rarefied one-percent multi-millionaire elitist. Strangely enough, that gives Newt the inside track on being the genuine article, in the grand tradition of corrupt American politics.

We don't elect kings, do we? That's what the American Revolution was all about.

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