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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Politics of being rich


Presidential candidates are always rich. The question is whether they made their riches legitimately, are they like Steve Jobs or Gordon Gekko. Americans have never had a problem with rich presidents. George Washington was one of the richest men in America. Senator John Kerry is worth at least $186 million while Senator John McCain is north of $300 million and George W. Bush has at least $30 million. There was very little discussion of their wealth during the presidential campaigns. Wealth is seen as a positive qualification for a president. It speaks of success and we all want our President to be successful. In Governor Mitt Romney’s campaigns it has repeatedly been a topic by his adversaries. Texas Governor Rick Perry said “There’s a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism” to Fox News in an interview on January 11, 2012. Governor Perry identified the central question.
It takes a thief to catch a thief. Governor Romney could turn all this to a positive with policies that would level the playing field and give the average working stiff an equal opportunity. Current laws and regulation give preferential treatment to the rich. Governor Romney enjoys the substantial benefit of carried interest tax rates. His companies received tax credits for off shoring jobs. He could talk about the corporate rent seeking that cost the middle-class money and opportunity. The challenge would be creating serious policies, not just populist rhetoric. Serious proposals would make him a statesman, a visionary leader.
I have visited Governor Romney’s website (mittromney.com). He states “How will we generate sufficient revenue to balance our budget without discouraging economic activity …”, he wants to “eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains”. Most American’s receive their money as wages while Governor Romney receives his money as interest, dividends, and capital gains. This policy will directly benefit Governor Romney but will make no positive difference to me or my children. Reading Governor Romney’s website it appears that the objective of his financial policies is to help Governor Romney. All of this makes the source and method of Governor Romney’s wealth a legitimate political question.

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