‘Lucky’ Voters Can Pick Romney

Exclusive: Mitt Romney’s political struggles are testing the patience of the Republican presidential nominee and his wife Ann, who tells Americans that they should know how “lucky” they are that her husband is offering himself as the nation’s savior. Romney’s message to voters is “you’re welcome,” writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

If Mitt Romney were Gen. George Washington after winning America’s independence or even Gen. Dwight Eisenhower back from defeating the Nazis, it might go down easier when Romney and his wife treat the American electorate like peasants who should be simply saying “thank you” for the Romneys’ generosity in deigning to move into the White House.

But Mitt Romney is no George Washington and no Dwight Eisenhower, two men who actually had accomplished great things before they became President. Romney even avoided military service in the Vietnam War, a conflict he says he supported but got deferments to avoid.

Mitt and Ann Romney. (Photo credit: mittromney.com)

Romney’s big accomplishment in life was running a venture capital firm, Bain Capital, that was spun off from Bain & Co. with promises from founder Bill Bain of no reputational risk for Romney if it failed. Romney then tapped into his family’s powerful connections to amass a multimillion-dollar fund that went on to make lots more money, albeit with a mixed record for saving (or bankrupting) companies. [See The Real Romney by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman.]

One can commend Romney for his financial success and even give him credit for running the Salt Lake City Olympics and serving as a one-term governor of Massachusetts, but his achievements in life were never so spectacular that he should expect to be treated like America’s savior. Any number of former U.S. Presidents including early ones who led the Revolution and later ones who commanded troops in wartime had a longer list of meaningful accomplishments than Romney.

Yet, Romney and his wife, Ann, apparently see themselves as entitled to become America’s new First Couple. They seem perturbed and perplexed that their road to the White House has not been strewn with rose petals from the cheering masses. They can’t figure out why this mixed-race incumbent is leading in so many polls and even Republicans are criticizing Romney’s stumble-bum campaign.

The annoyance broke through Friday when Ann Romney was asked what she would say to the GOP complainers. “Stop it,” the would-be first lady snapped. “This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring. This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now, and it’s an important election.”

She then added, “It is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”

Did she really say that running for President is “hard” and tell us “how lucky we are” that Mitt Romney is willing to accept the job? Well, yes, running for President is “hard” though it’s generally regarded as a test for whether someone can handle the position’s complex responsibilities. And seeing how bizarrely disorganized the Romney campaign has been isn’t exactly reassuring.

By contrast, in 2008, the relatively inexperienced Sen. Barack Obama reassured many voters of his managerial competence by running a first-class campaign that bested the heavily favored Sen. Hillary Clinton and then defeated the widely admired Sen. John McCain. Obama’s campaign was not perfect, but he showed toughness, resilience and elegance in weathering a few rough patches.

The opposite has been true of Romney, who entered Campaign 2012 with mainstream journalists gushing about him as a “turnaround artist” and a “managerial wizard.” Yet, his campaign has been a disaster, matched perhaps only by his inept performance as a candidate. Stretching back into the GOP primaries, it’s been one gaffe after another, one unforced error after another.

Sense of Entitlement

But always there has been this sense of entitlement. In April, after Mitt Romney had obliterated his Republican rivals with Dresden-style ad campaigns paid for by his rich backers, Ann Romney was counting the days until Obama and his family would be told to pack their carpetbags and vacate the White House.

“I believe it’s Mitt’s time,” she declared. “I believe the country needs the kind of leadership he’s going to offer. So I think it’s our turn now.”

Yet, along the way, there were so many annoyances, like impertinent questions from the news media asking why Mitt Romney would release only his two most recent tax returns and not live up to his father’s precedent of 12 years. Mitt and Ann Romney spoke in unison that two years was all the public would get to see.

Just this past week, referring to their wealth and their aggravation with all the criticism about the presidential campaign, Ann Romney told a Fox station in Colorado that Mitt Romney “obviously doesn’t need to do this for a job.”

Then, late Friday afternoon, the second set of tax returns was released for 2011, showing that indeed Mitt and Ann Romney were making plenty of money off their investments, with an adjusted gross income of $13.7 million. But the release raised more questions than it answered.

An accompanying statement by Brad Malt, the trustee for the Romney’s fortune, indicated that the Romneys engineered a higher percentage for their federal taxes for 2011 by not taking $1.75 million in eligible deductions for charitable donations.

That put their effective tax rate at 14.1 percent, about four percentage points higher than it would have been if they had applied all their deductions. The reason, according to Malt, was that the Romneys wanted “to conform to the Governor’s statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.”

Translation: a near single-digit tax payment for a multi-millionaire would look bad, especially after the leaked videotape showing him decrying the “47 percent” of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes as irresponsible moochers who see themselves as “victims.” Many of those low-income wage earners do pay around 15 percent in federal payroll taxes. (Others among Romney’s “47 percent” are retirees and soldiers in combat.)

Yet, if the Romneys’ actual tax rate should have been only around 10 percent in an up-year for equity investments as 2011 was what would his effective tax rate have been for 2007 and 2008 at the start of the Great Recession when the equity markets were in free-fall. Some accountants have suggested that Romney might have had zero tax liabilities in those down-years.

Romney moved to squelch such speculation by releasing a statement from the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which summarized Romney’s tax records for 20 years, from 1990 to 2009.  However, PWC’s wording was curious.

The statement said, “In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.” [Emphasis in original.] But why did PWC use the verb “owed” instead of “paid”? Did Romney fail to pay taxes in one or more years but perhaps was later audited and told that he “owed” the Internal Revenue Service money? Or possibly did he carry over losses from a previous year erasing a later year’s tax liability?

Also, the use of the 20-year time frame could be misleading in that it wasn’t until 2003 that President George W. Bush pushed through the sharp reduction of capital gains taxes to 15 percent. Before that, Romney might have paid a much higher percentage in taxes on his investment income. By extending the time frame back to 1990, rather than to, say, 2000, Romney could make his average tax liability appear higher.

Thus, PWC could write, “Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20 percent.”

In contrast to the curious PWC wording that Romney “owed” taxes in every year, his statement about his 2011 taxes reported that “the Romneys paid $1,935,708 in taxes on $13,696,951 in mostly investment income.” The verb “paid” was used, not “owed.”

But the Romneys have made clear that the public has no right to know any more about their financial history. Presumably, the voters should just be thankful that Mitt Romney has been generous enough to make himself available to be President of the United States. His only comment should be, “you’re welcome.”

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

23 comments for “‘Lucky’ Voters Can Pick Romney

  1. gregorylkruse
    September 23, 2012 at 21:29

    What freaks me out is that so many people who care about politics can’t read from faces that try to look sincere while they lie through their teeth. A good liar doesn’t try to look sincere like Mitt and Ryan do. The difference with Ann is that she really believes the bullshit she’s spreading. The best liar on the planet is Bill Clinton.

  2. Marc McKenzie
    September 22, 2012 at 22:26

    @JonnyJames: “I would never vote for either of these criminals, but if Romney were the Puppet Emperor, he would at least galvanize the so-called left into action.”

    Sure…how many lives are you willing to bet on that? Because that’s the same line of crap I heard back in 2000 with Bush and Gore. We all know how Bush turned out–sure, the “so-called left” was “galvanized” into action, but the price in lives–the 9/11 victims, the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who lost everything in the market crash–that price was too damned high.

    Step down off your high horse. Obama isn’t perfect, but he’s done a hell of a lot, and Romney and the Republicans have pretty much shown that they will throw the country over the fence and give it the business if they get back in power. Your “both sides are horrible” meme is a foolish canard that should be tossed into the dustbin of history. If you still spew it out with full knowledge of what the modern GOP intends to do and the differences (yes, they exist) between the two parties and the two candidates running for President, then to hell with you.

    And no, I’m not suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

    • JonnyJames
      September 23, 2012 at 13:10

      I’ll be sure and tell that to Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Prof. Michael Hudson, Dr. Cornel West, Glen Ford, Prof. Sheldon Wolin, Dr. Morris Berman, et al. Pity you seem to be ignorant of their observations and arguments.

      I’ve heard the same lame, intellectually bankrupt arguments for years. The lesser of two evils is still evil my friend.

      Go ahead and vote for a bankster-puppet, lying war criminal. I will stay on my “high horse”.

      This is the type of anti-intellectual neo-fascist culture that attacks anyone that criticizes THE SYSTEM.

      Why do people identify with politicians who don’t give a toss about them?
      Your emotional reaction to my critique is telling.

      This is not religion, it is politics, and politicians act in the interests of their donors – who are banks and corporations. This is really simple stuff. The study of politics deals with POWER and INTERESTS. If folks can’t handle that and want to believe in fairy tales, that’s fine. Just don’t disparage academics and public intellectuals (like the ones I mentioned above) for pointing out clear facts.

      WinnerTakesAll (two party) electoral system
      Corporations legally defined as people
      Money defined as “free speech”
      BigMoney multi-billion dollar election cycles
      Corporate media cartel orchestrated and managed debates and discourse.

      etc. etc.

      Can you tell me how this is “democracy” with a straight face?

      On second thought forget about it. Obama will “win” I can assure you, so everything will be just fine.

  3. hidflect
    September 22, 2012 at 21:47

    Nobody asked you to run, Wrongme. So don’t turn around and say we should be grateful for your desire to seek the adulation of the (m)asses.

  4. Kay Johnson
    September 22, 2012 at 19:46

    here’s a tale that chilled me more than the bullying haircut… http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/11610-when-bishop-romney-came-to-call

    • F. G. Sanford
      September 22, 2012 at 22:30

      WOW! Scary stuff. I check Truth-out regularly, but somehow, I missed this one. This story reminds me of my own early memories of religious zealotry. Jesus was supposed to love me, but if I was bad, he’d put me on a skewer and cook me in a fire-pit forever. At some point, I decided that people telling this sort of thing to children were sick. I decided not to believe anything they said. Folks should start asking themselves, “Are these people really any different than the Taliban?”

  5. JonnyJames
    September 22, 2012 at 17:39

    And…the bourgeois liberal upper “middle class” can stop freaking out, Obama will “win” the election and neutralize dissent.

    I would never vote for either of these criminals, but if Romney were the Puppet Emperor, he would at least galvanize the so-called left into action. When Obama is on the throne, he can do no wrong in the eyes of Stockholm Syndrome-stricken BigPharma dope sodden “liberals”.

  6. JonnyJames
    September 22, 2012 at 17:34

    Yes we know that Romney is a lying, crooked, parastitical, hypocrite freeloader, imperialist advocate of mass murder and war crimes.

    Obama is defending the blatant shredding of the Bill of Rights, deporting more people than Bush Jr., Issued a de-facto pardon of Bush Jr. and the neocon gang, and continues to turn his back on unions and working people. And he maintains a ‘kill list’ and commits his own war crimes.

    Instead of wasting time criticizing what is glaringly obvious, we need to call attention to the corrupt electoral system, the corrupt legal system, the corrupt financial system, the corrupt economic system.

    Rome burns while we point fingers at the lesser and greater of two evils


    Expecting an outcome from a thoroughly corrupted electoral system that is not corrupt is simply irrational. Is everyone stricken with Stockholm Syndrome?

    • joe common
      September 23, 2012 at 23:38

      good point. but you must note 2 very significan things aboout President Obama.
      1. he is nobody’s fool. netanyahu figured he was his lapdog to slap around and instead President Obama fired netanyahu – a real serious right wing nutjob and a thief.
      2. President Obama condescends unwillingly, with regret, and with plans to reverse any transgression he made.

      Meanwhile, lets do as you say and focus on the economy, not debt, CIRCULATION. if you have what it takes to get the word out on economics, i will find the time to paint the picture clearer than glass. even the unborn can understand.

  7. Jym Allyn
    September 22, 2012 at 15:51

    To my previous posters: Thank you for your wisdom and insight.

    The only comment I could possibly add is that there is another “magical number” to consider when viewing Romney’s attempt to be President: 40% (40 percent).

    The “magic number” 40% corresponds to the percent of Americans who don’t believe in Evolution and have that as a common benchmark for their gullibility and stupidity.

    The only caveat is that when the Evangelicals of that 40% realize the that Romney is a Mormon, they may stay home and NOT vote since they know that “Mormons aren’t Real Christians.” (And neither are Catholics like Ryan.)

    The evening of November 6 is going to be very interesting.

    • joe common
      September 23, 2012 at 23:33

      paul ryan is a complete fraud.

  8. DorothyPerkins
    September 22, 2012 at 15:11

    You forgot to mention that Romney was born in Mexico to a Mexican woman and adopted by the Romneys. Therefore he is disqualified from running for President of the USA. We should demand to see his ‘real’ birth certificate, instead of the one he uses to deceive the American public.

    • lexy
      September 22, 2012 at 21:00

      Is this really true? Where did you get info?

      • attyrrb
        September 22, 2012 at 22:56

        It’s true now! I heard someone say it. The burden is now on Romney to disprove it with overwhelming evidence that I will never accept as sufficient. That’s how this works isn’t it?

        • lexy
          September 23, 2012 at 01:52

          Ok this is hilarious. lets start a disinformation campaign with this one. If I almost believed this the “rubes” in the south and mid west would buy it hook, line and sinker if someone paid for an “ad” on fox news….. on Sean Hannity’s show.

      • F. G. Sanford
        September 22, 2012 at 23:04

        Actually, a talented PR campaign could spin this into a much more plausible story than the Obama birth certificate story. Romney’s mom called him her “miracle baby”. She was medically advised that she could have no more children, but then apparently gave birth to Mitt. It is not beyond the realm of imagination that, in a culture tolerant of polygamy, a surrogate mother could have helped perform the “miracle”. With the existence of a large Mormon community in Mexico during George Romney’s tenure there (he was born in Mexico), it probably wouldn’t have been hard to pull this off. Basically, the large Mormon community in Mexico of that era was there because polygamy could still be practiced with immunity. For those of you who are skeptical, please see this you-tube interview of Mittster’s mom during George Romney’s campaign for Minnesota Governor! This is priceless! She even mentions being on welfare!


  9. Morton Kurzweil
    September 22, 2012 at 12:50

    Mitt Romney is a bully. He has been since childhood. A bully is someone who is insecure, has little or no self esteem. and depends on the opinions of others for his values. The quick reversal of statements and the dogmatic way he affirms these remarks are a symptom of this pathologic behavior. The vicious and personal attacks on any stance he assumes is an expression of the paranoid defense of his self-image.
    Mitt Romney is a coward. This is part of the personality defects of a bully. Terrorists will exhibit extreme behavior to prove their group loyalty and the submission of their personality to group values
    The man cannot be trusted. He exhibits all the signs and symptoms of extremist mob behavior. His Mormon background should have made him better attuned to the protection and support of the poor and the needy. This is the purpose of foreign missionary work. His mission to Paris was an excuse to avoid the draft and enjoy himself in the City of Delights.
    He does not lie. What he says at the moment, he believes to be true. He has no conscience to believe otherwise. He has no need to apologize.
    When Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to acknowledge his defeat and realized that he must retreat:
    “Fully aware of the power he reaped from the prestige of his infallibility, he shuddered at the thought of dealing it its first wound.
    “What a frightful succession of perilous conflicts will begin with my first backward step !”, he argued. “You must no longer find fault in my action. Oh, don’t I know that from the purely military point of view Moscow is worthless! But Moscow is not a military position, it is a political position. You think I am a general, while I am really an Emperor.” Then he cried, “In affairs of state one must never retreat, never retrace one’s steps, never admit an error – that brings disrepute. When one makes a mistake, one must stick to it – that makes it right!.”
    -Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, Count Philippe -Paul de Segur, aide de Camp

    That’s Romney in his role as bully.

    • joe common
      September 23, 2012 at 23:32

      i agree. i paraphrase the whole “cap’n mitt is a pirating thief who loots then scoots” as an asshole who started his career stealing hair but it didnt pay enough.

  10. GeriS
    September 22, 2012 at 10:15

    As a resident of Massachusetts, I did not vote for Romney since I believed he was an airhead, and it seems that Ann is no different when she opens her mouth. He was a one-term Governor of MA since he had no future after that term. These two elitist “pips” deserve each other but the United States does not……OBAMA-BIDEN 2012!!!

  11. clarence swinney
    September 22, 2012 at 08:45

    Given Americans’ limited knowledge about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, let’s begin with an introduction to Mormon mores, where sin-wise “ unchastity is next to murder in seriousness .” The Mormon Church forbids any and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage , including “ necking and petting ”; masturbation; pornography; homosexuality; and abortion in almost all circumstances. Gays who act on their “ inclinations” are banned from entering Mormon temples, where many of the most important family events and sacred rituals—marriage, funerals, baptism of the dead—are celebrated. Traditional gender roles are encouraged , and often enforced. Mormonism bars women from the priesthood, enjoins them to have many children, and frowns on mothers working outside the home. In a nation of declining middle-class incomes, there’s not much the hierarchy can do to force mothers back into full-time motherhood and wifedom. Still, the LDS Church doesn’t employ Mormon women with young children or cover birth control for its employees .
    In Mormonism, mothers may be exalted, but women sure aren’t equal.
    To be sure, the LDS church isn’t impervious to change. It did, after all, end polygamy and eventually allow African American men into the priesthood. Yet when it comes to stepping into the 21st century on women’s equality, gay civil rights and sex—as many ordinary Mormons would prefer– the Mormon Church has dug in its heels.
    And this is where Romney comes in.
    In 1981, the 34-year-old Romney was already a fabulously successful consultant at Bain & Company when the LDS hierarchy tasked him to be a lay bishop. The Belmont ward, where Romney’s family worshipped, was a hotbed of Mormon feminism —a sign, from Salt Lake City’s perspective, that the congregation needed a Mr. Turnaround. Romney ultimately spent nearly 14 years as a Mormon clergyman, becoming the highest Mormon Church leader in the Boston region. He resigned in 1994 to run for the U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy. Article alternet.org. nancy l. cohen

    • joe common
      September 23, 2012 at 23:30

      REALLY. it is my educated guess that the mormons – at least his faction of them – made a deal with the zions. this should be the case. cap’n mitt actualy worked with netanyahu at BFG. they are co-conspirators wherein the content of their recent conversation in secret rooms probably for a war to take jerusalem under some bullshit guise for land development and a theme park they are likely joint ventured in; at the expense of american lives, misery, debt, and all the rest.

  12. F. G. Sanford
    September 22, 2012 at 02:49

    Here’s an experiment you may like to try: it was an assignment I had in college. Ask one hundred people what social class they belong to, and tabulate the results. When (notice I didn’t say if) they say, “middle class”, ask them to specify whether they’re upper-middle, middle-middle, or lower-middle. They’ll answer, “middle-middle”. Now, if you conduct this survey in a community like Deal, New Jersey, or Beverly Hills, California, don’t expect these results. But anyplace else, and 100% of your respondents will give the same answer. This is important, because the 47% Mitt referred to at his $50,000 per-plate fund raiser don’t realize he’s referring to them. After all, “entitlements” means welfare and unemployment, and that means…ahem…”black people”. Since most working poor people identify payroll withholdings as taxes, they don’t realize that they don’t necessarily qualify as “tax-payers” in the landed gentry definition of the term. It was a “racist dog-whistle”, and most of them heard it clearly.

    In addition, Ann Romney’s shallow, unwitting betrayal of her disdain for the masses has that same vapid ring that made Elizabeth Dole and Nancy Reagan darlings of right-wing womanhood. Pride in her husband’s social status gives her the same false legitimacy one associates with “Daughters of the Revolution” and various other Betsy Ross ‘wannabes’. As transparent as this all may be to readers of Consortium News, don’t count on the 47% thing hurting him much. He’s starting to look more like Bob Dole all the time. But do you remember what they said about Bob Dole? “His wife’s the head of the Red Cross: he can get fresh blood anytime he needs it”. Romney doesn’t look anywhere near as senile as Reagan or as close to death as Dole. Keep in mind that most Republican voters will stick with the party. So, the essential qualification in their candidate is a pulse.

    • joe common
      September 23, 2012 at 23:24

      interesting study.
      the fraud that cap’n mitt is lookig to perpetrate on te public is that being middle class isnt good enough. his treatment of middle class is as if they were all the losers of the RACE TO BE RICH. his arrogance and despicable disdain for other people who dont dine with him is exemplary of his belief that YOUPEOPLE life should be on the line, to compete or die, to run the indy 500 at the wall at the risk of your life or suffer and starve. and then, all those who dont come out on top can fight over the scraps.

      it is his brand of arrogance that genocidal maniacs like bashar al-assad hold out as “ENTITLEMENT”.

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