You know it is a good Friday afternoon for the Romney-Ryan ticket when Mitt Romney releases his 2011 tax return, showing, among other things, that he paid $1.94 million in taxes on $13.7 million of income (an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent) and gave about 30 percent (more than $4 million) of his income to charity, leaving liberals to complain that he gave too much away to get his tax rate up. (Let’s consider that to be an admission that this ongoing to-do about his taxes has gained the left nothing.)
The campaign explained in an e-mail, “In addition to the complete 2010 and 2011 tax returns, Gov. Romney has released nine financial disclosures since 2002, which are posted on this site as well. There are 3 federal Public Financial Disclosures (from 2007, 2011, and 2012), and 6 Massachusetts Statements of Financial Interests (from 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007). The site also includes Congressman Paul Ryan’s financial information: tax returns from 2011 and 2010 for Paul and Janna Ryan, as well as 14 federal Public Financial Disclosures covering 1999-2012.”
To top that off, Romney released a letter from PricewaterhouseCoopers, his tax prepaper from 1990 to 2009. It attests that, over that 20-year period, Romney paid taxes every year — contrary to Sen. Harry Reid’s bald-faced lie — on average at an effective rate of 20.20 percent, and no lower than 13.66 percent. Over the 20-year span, the Romneys paid in taxes or gave away in charity more than 38 percent of their adjusted gross income. Well, I can certainly see (not) why they’d want to conceal all that!
Meanwhile, Obama is getting stranger by the moment.
Recall that yesterday Obama said he had learned you can’t change Washington from the inside. And the candidate who ran to fix the economy but still presides over more than 8 percent unemployment confessed his biggest disappointment to be the failure to pass immigration reform. (Maybe he should have sent up a proposal.)
Today Obama, plainly bothered by his opponent’s jab that he’s given up on “change,” asked, “What kind of inside job is he talking about?” Umm, the presidency? He insisted, “You change [Washington] with the help of ordinary Americans who are willing to make their voices heard because of the decency and the goodness and the common sense of Americans. That’s what moves the country forward.”
Seriously, why run for the presidency then? Obama could go back to community organizing or do bus tours until the cows come home. He seems genuinely baffled by the job description of the post he’s held for nearly four years.
Obama has been rightly criticized for being strong on campaigning and weak on governing. “Inspiring people” is how you get elected, but it is his job to work on the economy, the debt, tax reform, immigration reform, energy policy and the rest. It’s not glamorous, but it is what the job is about — setting an agenda, gathering consensus, striking deals and getting your agenda through. No wonder he failed to do any of those things successfully. He was hoping “inspiration” would be enough.
Obama often reveals how enamored he is of his role as a messianic figure. His mere presence on the stage was going to calm the Middle East. His election was going to bring about change. But that is not how a president accomplishes things. What we are terribly in need of these days is not “inspiration” but sane governance, hard bargaining, realistic deal-making and a willingness to make common cause with your opponents and stand up to your own side. Obama, I believe, has just made the case for why he is precisely the wrong person to hold the presidency at this time.
We don’t need a dilettante or a flowery orator; we need a chief executive and commander in chief. If Obama can’t lower his ambition to perform such mundane tasks (or really doesn’t know how), maybe he should leave that to someone else and return to memoir writing and speechifying. Those really are what he does best.