President Barack Obama’s new budget proposal, released Wednesday, would raise $16 billion in revenue over 10 years by getting rid of one of the ways millionaires and billionaires pay lower taxes than their secretaries. It’s called the carried interest tax break, and it allows the wealthy to pay a lower rate on some of their income. But ending the carried interest exception will be tough, and not just because a budget compromise with Republicans is unlikely: Previous proposed legislation to kill the tax break was riddled with loopholes.
The carried interest tax break works by letting private equity and hedge fund managers treat some of the income they earn from managing clients’ portfolios as if they had invested it themselves. That allows folks like Mitt Romney to pay a 20 percent investment income tax rate on their money management fees, instead of the normal 39.6 percent tax rate on earned income. This special rich person perk costs the government some $1.3 billion a year. That’s one reason why Obama and many Democrats slam the tax break as unfair and have targeted it for repeal.
“There continues to be no rationale whatsoever for people to pay at a vastly lower tax rate when they are managing other people’s money,” Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), who has introduced all of the carried interest legislation in past years, said in an email. “This is an issue of fairness that we should address as we seek a balanced approach to deficit reduction that involves both additional revenues and spending cuts.”
But getting rid of the tax break may not be such an easy task, given the tortuous history of the movement to deep-six it. The fight against carried interest is Levin’s baby. He first introduced a bill to ax the loophole in 2007, and has introduced two more versions since then, all of which have stalled.
Ben Shapiro, the editor-at-large wunderkind at Breitbart.com, guest-hosted for the Hugh Hewitt radio show on the day of the Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as defense secretary in late February. The Hagel news really tipped the teeter-totter for Shapiro, burning a few more cards out of a deck that was already missing several face cards. This video distills eight minutes from the three hour program, eight minutes of prime frustration, projection, hectoring, complaining, accusation and moral posturing, all delivered in Shapiro’s rapid-fire nasal whine.
Shapiro suggested that Hamas was “handing out candy in Gaza” to celebrate the Hagel nomination, bluntly tried to smear Hagel as “an open anti-Semitic guy,” a “defense secretary for Islamists,” an “anti-Semite” who is “the worst nominee…in American history” and, for good measure, bleated that Obama is a “jerk,” “bully” and “morally deficient human being” who has “come out of the closet” in terms of pretending to care about people. Meanwhile, in Shapiro’s world, “Mitt Romney…is legitimately one of the most honorable men, maybe the most honorable man, ever to run for high office in this country” and Noam Chomsky “is not really Jewish,” is “Jewish in name only.” He simultaneously accuses everyone but the man in the mirror of being “whiny” and doing “smear jobs.”
In the middle of the tirade, Shapiro’s self-awareness bloats to the point where he can ask “How can (Obama) possibly say this with a straight face?” and to end with this: “Democrats, they live in a world of unreality. They live in magic unicorn land…They don’t deal with reality. It’s up to us to deal with reality.”
Shapiro’s high-energy angst, his fevered finger-pointing at “moral deficiency” and other faults of those who “don’t deal with reality” is eerily reminiscent of the long line of disgraced fire-and-brimstone evangelists, from Jimmy Swaggart romping with prostitutes to Ted Haggard doing meth with his gay masseuse, who work so hard to hide the fact that they are guilty of all the sins they preach against. How long until Shapiro cracks?
The fellow on the other end of the phone call pronounced his name with hesitation. For nearly a fortnight, he and I had been building a long-distance rapport via private tweets, emails, and phone conversations as we discussed how best to make public the secret video he had shot of Mitt Romney talking at a private, $50,000-per-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida. Now I was almost ready to break the story at Mother Jones. I had verified the video, confirming when and where it had been shot, and my colleagues and I had selected eight clips—including Romney’s now-infamous remarks about the 47 percent of Americans he characterized as “victims” unwilling to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives”—to embed in two articles. We had blurred these clips, at the source’s request, to make it difficult to tell where Romney had uttered these revealing comments, while clearly showing that it was Romney speaking. The goal was to afford the source a modicum of protection.
More MoJo coverage of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks:
The Story Behind the 47 Percent Video
SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters
Romney “47 Percent” Fundraiser Host: Hedge Fund Manager Who Likes Sex Parties
Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video
Obama Strikes Back—With “47 Percent”
Who Was at Romney’s “47 Percent” Fundraiser?
The source was justifiably worried about repercussions. Once the video was posted, he might lose his job. He might face criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. Months earlier, he had anonymously posted a snippet from the video, in which Romney nonchalantly described the work-camp-like living conditions at a Chinese factory he had visited. The source, offended by these comments, had hoped that the short clip would catch fire in the political-media world. But it hadn’t, partly because its context and origins were unknown. The source’s desire to remain in the shadows had hindered his ability to bring the story to the public.
Massachusetts has a national reputation as a bastion of gun control, but crimes and injuries related to firearms have risen — sometimes dramatically — since the state passed a comprehensive package of gun laws in 1998.
And strengthened by a permanent state ban on assault weapons signed by then Governor Mitt Romney in 2004.
Murders committed with firearms have increased significantly, aggravated assaults and robberies involving guns have risen, and gunshot injuries are up, according to FBI and state data.
Looks like gun control laws don’t work right?
‘The quality of your gun-licensing laws is only as good as those surrounding you,’ said James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist.
Makes sense to me, here is the data on out-of-state guns found at crime scenes. Not all weapons used to commit crimes, just those that were recovered by the police.
Many guns found in Massachusetts travel only a short distance: 133 crime guns were traced to New Hampshire in 2011, and 79 to Maine, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Those states alone accounted for nearly one-third of the 669 crime guns traced to states outside of Massachusetts.
New Hampshire and Maine, unlike Massachusetts, do not require a permit or license to buy a gun, although weapons bought at federally licensed gun shops are subjected to a background check.
You can read the article here. But you didn’t click on “TL:DR Theater” to read it yourself, did you? No, you want it quickly spoon-fed.
When Romney became the GOP nominee, he was so out of touch that his campaign resembled a wacky fish-out-of-water comedy. When he surprised everyone by winning the first presidential debate, his campaign started to look like an inspirational underdog movie.
But the election results reminded us that Romney never stood a chance. Incumbent presidents are statistically unlikely to be unseated, and the polls showed Obama had this election in the bag since 2010. But the media can’t sell a predictable landslide. So the movie that best paralleled the election was the 90’s flick The Great White Hype.
And that concludes another episode of TL:DR Theater. Thank you for read… Oh, thats right.
You’ve probably moved on from the 2012 presidential election. It’s clear that the Republican Party is trying to. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio both gave high-profile speeches Tuesday in which they showed they had learned the lessons of Mitt Romney’s loss. “Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’ ” said Ryan, sounding a little bit like Barack Obama circa 2008 and nothing like Mitt Romney, who was secretly recorded telling donors that 47 percent of the country wouldn’t vote for him because they considered themselves victims. “Republicans must steer far clear of that trap.” Sen. Rubio spoke at the same dinner as Ryan. Rubio mentioned the middle class 34 times in his half-hour speech, which may qualify him for a special badge of some sort.*
Before you move on to 2016, though, there is one important trove of information about the last presidential race that was just made available. Harvard’s Institute of Politics has released the audio of last week’s Campaign Decision Makers Conference. This is the powwow of the vanquished and victorious that has taken place every four years at Harvard since 1972. The top strategists from both sides sit across vast stretches of white tablecloth and discuss the battle they just waged.
Everyone was showered, shaven, and showed the benefits of sleep they had missed for the last 18 months. Most were on the cusp of long vacations in pricey locales. As a result, mostly everyone was polite (damn it!). Still, it was informative.
Why revisit Thanksgiving when we’ve already hung half the Christmas lights? Because the shape for the final script of 2012 will determine how the participants in the 2016 conference run their races. Those of us who participated in the gathering were asked to keep our notebooks closed until Harvard posted the material. Now that it’s available to all, here are the most illuminating disclosures:
Like me, Jonathan Chait can’t help noticing John Podhoretz’s Awkward Postelection Epiphany.
The postelection Podhoretz argues that Obama’s win was “an astonishing technical accomplishment but in no way whatsoever a substantive one.” He owes it all to the brilliance of his campaign strategists — “a peerless political instrument, a virtual machine.” Obama’s assault on Romney business career may have “been the smartest and most effective political campaign of our lifetime.”
This may be a jarring message for Podhoretz’s devoted readers, whom Podhoretz spent months assuring that Obama was flailing about and headed for near-certain defeat. Obama was politically incompetent (“what we’ve seen so far is a reminder that the skills required to mount an insurgent campaign with a charismatic unknown aren’t those needed to mount a re-election effort featuring an incumbent with a problematic record”). On top of this he was weighed down by a terrible economy. Romney was in much better condition than the polls showed, Obama in deep, deep trouble. “Without a stark turnaround in his fortunes,” observed Podhoretz, he might lose [North Carolina] by 10 points this November.”
…The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro reported Tuesday on how the immensely likable, plain-talking governor remains persona non grata among GOP mainstays following the lost presidential election. His crime: suggesting that President Obama performed admirably in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Make no mistake, Democrats would also be hounding one of their own who heaped praise on a Republican in the waning hours of a close presidential campaign. Imagine if California Gov. Jerry Brown had waited until late October to say he viewed Mitt Romney as a principled, post-partisan leader who could work with one and all. He would need a team of bodyguards to move safely in the deep-blue state Capitol.
But this is one of those moments when tried-and-true partisan hackery and the thoughts of average Americans diverge in a big way. The rapprochement between Obama and Christie — who praised the president’s Sandy response as “outstanding,” “incredibly supportive” and a “great credit” to leadership — pleased a lot of ordinary people. Exit polls found that roughly 1 in 4 voters called Obama’s response to the giant storm an “important factor” in their vote. Christie’s warm embrace of the president presumably went a long way toward affirming that Obama acted presidential, not political, during the crisis.
Mitt Romney has suggested that the presidency was stolen from him by primary debate moderators and President Obama’s devious plan to improve Americans’ lives, but his former staffers know that isn’t the only reason he lost the election. Chris Christie also deserves some of the blame. Despite Christie’s argument that months of acting as a loyal Romney surrogate aren’t negated by thanking his nemesis during a crisis, since the election many Republicans have lashed out at Christie, and the Romney team is convinced that he hurt them in the crucial final moments of the campaign. The New York Times reports that in a “lengthy autopsy of their campaign,” Romney’s political advisers found that a large number voters who were undecided toward the end wound up voting Obama, and many said Hurricane Sandy was a major factor in their decision. “Christie,” said a Romney adviser, “allowed Obama to be president, not a politician.”
In the days following the storm, Christie tried to frame his repeated praise of the president as a virtue, saying he couldn’t even think about politics during the crisis. The response from Republicans wasn’t what one would hope for, especially from a party trying to emphasize its compassion for voters. Per the Times:
But in the days after the storm, Mr. Christie and his advisers were startled to hear from out-of-state donors to Mr. Romney, who had little interest in the hurricane and viewed him solely as a campaign surrogate, demanding to know why he had stood so close to the president on a tarmac. One of them questioned why he had boarded Mr. Obama’s helicopter, according to people briefed on the conversations.
The anti-Mandate meme is struggling now. Part of the problem stems from the pre-election ‘unskewed polls’ craze, which led to conservatives predicting a big Romney win, which made it harder to minimize what actually happened. The bigger part of the problem: The president promised to raise some tax rates. Voters agreed.
Republicans haven’t even tried to spin this away. At this week’s meeting of the Republican Governors Association, men who had failed to elect Mitt Romney admitted that they’d lost the tax issue. ‘Elections have consequences,’ said Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia. ‘Clearly, overwhelmingly, people in America believe that raising rates on people that are in the upper income is part of the mix, the president is supporting that.’
Last year, at one of their overstuffed debates, the party’s 2012 presidential candidates were asked whether they’d accept ‘one dollar of tax increases for 10 dollars of cuts.’ They said no. Asked a similar question now, the Republicans who didn’t lose are shrugging. Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho, safe red territory, said he’d accept tax hikes ‘if I got a lot of the things that I wanted.’
There’s really no disagreement about what hikes we’re talking about, or how popular they are. In 2012, as in 2008, Barack Obama pledged to keep most of the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts, but not the one on incomes above $250,000. It would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. That would raise, probably, $823 billion over a decade. Obama’s tax stance was to the right of Bill Clinton’s and Al Gore’s, which is sort of the secret of the whole election—centrist tax policy girded by happy class warfare against a man who owned a car elevator.