Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All's Fair in Love and War, but not Politics

Ok—I’ve talked about this before, my feelings about fairness. But Obama brought it up again last night, so I’m going to comment again, too.

Growing up with lots of brothers and sisters, fairness was a pretty common theme in our everyday lives—take turns, ask before you borrow something, both the boys and the girls have to do housework and yard work, leave some for your sister—you get the idea.

Well, I’ve already said what I think about the general discrepancy between what people are paying into the system verses what they are receiving from the system. So, I’ll just address what I think both the media and the president have focused on—unfair taxing of the rich, namely, Mitt Romney.

Although I think we would all agree the tax code could use some serious adjustments, Romney has paid his “fair share” according to tax laws.

I agree with senior editorial writer, Philip Klein, of the Washington Examiner that in regards to his taxes, Romney “has absolutely nothing to apologize for.” In fact he put into perspective what $3.2 million in federal taxes—Romney’s estimated 2011 taxes—pays for:

-- The monthly food stamp allowance for about 23,909 people.

-- The cost of educating 302 elementary and high school students.

-- The base salary (before bonuses and allowances) of 178 privates in the U.S. Army.

-- The federal contribution to the benefits of 636 Medicaid enrollees.

In addition to his taxes, Romney has given around 16.4 percent of his income over the past two years to charity, and not just to the Mormon church.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post put it this way:

“Another way of looking at it is that in 2011 the Romneys paid out 42 percent of their income in taxes and charity. Here’s how I got there: Total tax (line 60) + foreign taxes (line 47) + state taxes and real-estate taxes + other taxes (Schedule A, line 9) + charitable contributions (Schedule A, line 19) divided by Adjusted Gross Income (1040 line 37).

“Let’s compare this percentage to that of average Americans. A 2009 Urban Institute study found: ‘The average charitable contribution per return filed in 2009 was about 2.0 percent of [adjusted gross] income.’

As for the effective marginal rate, Jim Pethokoukis writes: ‘While Romney’s tax rate is — in his own words — ‘probably closer to 15 percent than anything,’ that’s still higher than the 8.2 percent average effective income tax rate (as of 2010) of U.S. households (once you factor in various tax credits). Indeed, nearly half of U.S. households pay no income tax at all. Their average effective tax rate is actually negative. Even if you add in the payroll tax, the effective tax rate of the middle fifth of U.S. taxpayers is 12.8 percent.’

“So, yes, Romney is much wealthier than most Americans. But he also gives away or pays in taxes in absolute and percentage terms far more than most Americans.”

The liberal rhetoric Obama uses regarding taxes not being fair, and that the rich don’t pay their fair share, and that the poor are treated unfairly, and that we need to all play fair, makes it seem as if the rich are just a bunch of lazy bums getting a free ride while all the rest of us are doing all the work and paying all the taxes.

Obviously, the rich have much more money and pay much more money into federal taxes. In fact, the top one percent pays four times more than the bottom 40 percent. Half the country owes no income tax at all. And as I said, although our nation has a progressive tax system, that system could use some adjustment. But we should be glad we have many wealthy Americans who are contributing so much (yet, taxing them higher isn’t going to solve the deficit problem as Obama suggested).

We should be lauding the kind of success the Romneys have achieved through hard work and ingenuity. We should be praising their generosity. Instead, the media and the president try to make out their success as somehow being unfair and immoral. If we are truly talking about fairness, I would say Mitt Romney does more than his “fair share” for society.

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