Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Interesting Take On Presidential Candidates Generosity

From ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook: The Overlooked Tax Returns Story: Everyone's heard a lot in the past week about the low tax rate paid by Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett, compared to the high rate paid by Buffett's secretary. But there is an overlooked aspect to the release of tax returns by the leading presidential candidates -- the rate of charitable contributions.

This comparison shows that in 2010, Barack Obama gave 14 percent of his income to charity, Romney gave 14 percent, and Newt Gingrich gave 3 percent.
TMQ has noted before that if Obama believes, as he said in last week's State of the Union address, that the wealthy including "people like me" should pay higher taxes, nothing stops him from taxing himself, by the simple expedient of not claiming deductions. (Claiming deductions is an option, not a requirement.) Or Obama could tax himself by donating more to charity. Obama earned $1.7 million in 2010, and his living costs were covered by U.S. taxpayers. Yet he gave away only $245,000. The exemplar of hypocrisy is the public figure who hectors others about how they should be more generous, then doesn't give himself.

Romney does not advocate higher taxes, so his donations -- $3 million against $22 million in income -- aren't hypocrisy. But according to his IRS returns, after taxes and charitable donations, in 2010 Romney was left with $15 million in disposable income. That means Romney gave away $3 million while keeping $15 million for himself. Judged by the numbers, Romney thought his own luxury was five times more important than helping the poor, the arts, schools and churches. Taxes are what you must do; donations are what you do from the heart. Romney doesn't do anywhere near enough.
Easterbrook then talks about Newt Gingrich's generosity, which really sucks.  He also has a list of New York Times corrections that make you scratch your head and say "Are these writers educated?".
It's a good read.

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