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Smart v. Stupid

Mitt Romney fails to qualify as president

Take a moment to parse the message of the Romney campaign about the candidate’s offshore bank accounts: "Hey, it’s legal. So anyone who questions whether it is right is un-American."

There are certain things that offshore bank accounts don’t do:

  • They don’t provide access to convenient ATMs in over 300 locations.
  • They don’t give out toasters or hunting rifles when you open an account.
  • They don’t provide a friendly face at your local shopping center or extended hours on Fridays.
  • They don’t offer car loans or home mortgages.
  • They don’t sponsor Little League teams or send a few dollars to the local food bank.

There are really only four things they do:

  1. They help you hide assets from your spouse or business partner.
  2. They help you avoid paying taxes.
  3. They convert dollars to the local currency so that you can bet against your own country’s currency.
  4. They keep your deposits a secret.

These schemes are legal because people who have bucket loads of cash have bought loopholes in the federal tax code with campaign contributions. These loopholes allow them to take some of those cash buckets out of the country. They can do this without first having to contribute a share to the general welfare of our nation. That’s what they bought with their campaign donations – the legal opportunity not to pay a fair share.

You might think that’s great if you don’t believe in government. You may like that the money doesn’t go to things you don’t support like poor people or health care or drug rehabilitation. But when other Americans avoid paying taxes, they also don’t pay for roads or police or body armor for soldiers or even aid to local governments that pay health inspectors to close abortion clinics.

In short, everyone’s ox is gored – no matter what kind of government you like. Legal? Perhaps. But is it presidential? Not hardly.

Romney already pays far less taxes than most people. You probably pay 18 percent or more on your income of $80,000 or less. Even that is too low. It is not enough to pay for our modest menu of citizen services (like your mom’s Social Security) and our huge subsidy of defense contractors and exotic weapons procurement. So we carry a deficit.

But Mitt Romney in 2010 – apparently his least embarrassing year – paid even less. In the only year Romney is willing to let us see, he paid 13.9 percent on $21 million. Who knows what secrets he might be hiding?

One is that another stash of money went offshore, to the Cayman Islands or to Switzerland or to somewhere else. Romney refuses to say how much or where. If half his earnings in 2010 snuck away into offshore accounts, the 13.9 percent underpayment of fair taxes becomes 6.8 percent. On his money, government services got only about one-third of a fair share, not even the two-thirds he admits.

Let’s assume that every other dodge and loophole Romney used is legal. It’s also legal to exaggerate when you’re selling a used car. It is legal to lie to your wife when you’re having an affair. It is legal to spend your children’s college fund on binge drinking and gambling. And it is legal to dump your dad into a nursing home while you suck off his retirement, as long as you’ve first convinced the old guy he can trust you.

Are any of these things presidential? No, of course they are not.

Then there is Bain Capital. Not the Bain that exported jobs overseas for profit (not presidential) or the Bain that ruined modestly profitable companies by debt-loading (also not presidential.) No, this is the Bain that Romney ran for three years longer than he claimed. One can’t really imagine why he’d lie. He hasn’t said. Perhaps this explains where the offshore money came from. In any event, this is yet another example of Romney failing presidential muster.

The Republican Party still has a chance to nominate a candidate who is worthy of serving as president. A brokered convention would be messy and embarrassing. But it might also be soul-cleansing.

The GOP really has no other choice. The alternative is to put forward Mitt Romney, a candidate not even worthy of competing for the office, much less holding it. He doesn’t believe in government enough to contribute to its cost. He doesn’t believe in voters enough to let them weigh the facts themselves. He seems to be – as each day we find out more and more – a man who has spent his entire adult life betting against America.

In the end, Mitt Romney is a candidate who is not fit to serve as President. He simply doesn’t believe in the United States of America.

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

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A brokered convention would be messy and embarrassing. But it might also be soul cleansing.

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