Even if we blindly accept Romney’s word that he has paid at least 13% per year, his rate is substantially less than the 20.4% paid by the average American, according to Think Progress, whose figures derive from 2007, the last year for which figures were available. And those were Romney’s rates under current IRS regulations, which Republican administrations from Ronald Reagan onwards continuously rebalanced in favor of “job providers” who were supposed to juice the economy through “trickle down” economics. (Only the rich guy buying a yacht, and not the ordinary person shopping at K-Mart, are going to provide jobs for lowly manual workers). So, how has “trickle down” been working?
But even that tax advantage, by which the average American earns less but pays 50% more in taxes than does Romney, has not enough for his supporters. Should he win in November, a Romney administration gets to further rework the rules so that the ultra wealthy rate will be further cut. Under the Paul Ryan plan, Romney’s effective rate will reportedly plummet from 13% to 1%. So, how would you look to get a 1% rate yourself? Thought so. And what are the chances of Romney also conferring this rate on you? Too bad.
But the issue goes further than the ultra-rich growing their wealth – with two yachts instead of one - on the backs of American working stiffs. It goes to what these ultra-rich citizens want Romney to do for them.
Take Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate who has pumped $35 million into Republican campaigns this year, and pledges to have given $100 million by election day. This is well over the $200 or less contributed by the median donor. So, what is Adelson’s motivation? Adelson has put up a money-making casino in Macau, China’s answer to Las Vegas. But unlike Las Vegas, Macau has no real rivals. It has no Atlantic City, or casinos set up on tribal Indian lands in California, or anywhere else. Macau thus has a virtual monopoly on legalized gambling by China’s 1.3 billion citizens. That population is over four times that of the United States - all of whom have to go to one place if they wish to gamble legally.
Let us give Adelson credit for having the foresight to have staked his claim in Macau. But in getting the required permits, he is accused of bribing Chinese officials – acts which are not only illegal in China – where he has been found guilty and fined - but also in America under the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials. What is more, Adelson’s company, the Las Vegas Sands Corp.,has reportedly turned a blind eye to Chinese organized crime figures operating in its casinos.
For perspective, imagine the outcry - especially from patriotic Republicans - if, say, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government were discovered to have bribed American officials into allowing a business partly controlled by the Russian mafia to operate here. Do you hear the cries yet? That’s why Obama’s justice department has charged Adelson with bribing Chinese officials.
Yes, there is an argument to be made that bribes are the way business is done around the world. But if we Americans allow foreign officials to be bribed, won’t the worm then turn, with American officials also bribed to ignore laws our “job providers” don’t like, say on air pollution? And even if we Americans decided we no longer want this law, should that decision not be made by all of us, after debate and passage of legislation through Congress? Should “job providers” sicj as Sheldon Adelson singlehandedly be empowered to make such changes?
So, what has Romney’s response been Adelson’s problems? He recently sent running mate Paul Ryan to attend a fund raiser in Adelson’s Las Vegas casino, with Adelson slated to attend. As an radio ad once proclaimed, “Money talks; nobody walks.”
Adelson and his fellow billionaires want to be the money behind a beholden Romney administration, whose newly appointed Attorney General – and it won’t be Eric Holder – will scuttle the federal charges against him. A Romney administration would, in effect, be a get out of jail free card for Adelson – as well as for Romney’s many other mega-contributors. While still outwardly remaining under the rule of law, America would be governed similarly to banana republics, with he who gives the largest bribes rewarded with numerous government contracts.
And this is why Romney’s tax returns matter. They are a road map to his varied interests and deals. It is important that our President’s background be transparent to all – that Romney not be able to claim that he is aiding Adelson as a matter of “trickle down” economics. Rather, Romney would be reciprocating due to the newly legalized, post-Citizens United exchange of favors. Some might even call it legalized bribery.
Playing it straight, Mitt Romney’s father released 12 years of tax returns. The Obama campaign is now demanding five more years from Romney, in addition to the one he has released and the second he plans to release three weeks before Election Day. While deciding on who will be our President for the next four years, we Americans should demand at least that much.By Joseph Hanania Aslan Media Columnist