Mitt Romney is a tax dodger. That’s according to the 950 pages of confidential financial documents about his offshore Cayman Island investments, posted by Gawker last week.
It looks like Romney avoids paying taxes as much as Prince Harry avoids wearing clothes.
Romney isn’t alone. He’s got about 10 million buddies worldwide, including oil barons, drug kingpins and technology tycoons, who do the same thing. They hide their wealth in offshore tax shelters and create elaborate schemes to get out of paying taxes.
It comes with the territory of being the global 1%. You accumulate untold wealth – not by the sweat of your brow but on the backs of others – and then you employ lawyers, accountants, banks to – as they say – minimize your tax liability; you hire lobbyists and politicians to write favorable tax codes; and you endow think tanks to come up with reasons to justify the cheating of the public coffers.
This global 1% stash anywhere from $21 trillion to $32 trillion (yes that’s right TRILLION) in these havens, according to a groundbreaking report by Tax Justice Network.
Twenty-one trillion dollars is the size of the U.S. and Japan’s economy put together.
If that’s not bad enough, the report estimates an unprecedented concentration of that wealth – $10 trillion – is controlled by only 91,000 individuals. Talk about the global .001%!
The numbers are “conservative,” the report’s author says. They only measured financial wealth – no real estate, no yachts or private jets.
Romney is part of the global stash-the-cash-offshore crowd, one that calls for austerity – severe government cuts – while they sit on a Mt. Everest of untaxed cash.
The report says if this incredible wealth were taxed it would generate revenues of between $190-$280 billion, enough to turn current debtor countries into creditors.
Imagine what the taxes could do here. Maybe all of America’s children could get world-class education and health care, instead of the economic and racial inequality that has run rampant these last 30 years, since Reagan and the Republican Revolution.
As Romney was hiding his assets in the Caymans, the rest of the top 1% in the United States was doing the same thing. They doubled their income from 1980 to 2010.
During that same period, incomes of the bottom 90% in the U.S. dropped almost 5%, according to a study by two economic professors from the Paris School of Economics and the University of California Berkeley, the report noted.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow put the crisis of economic and racial inequality in perspective in his recent column, “Starving the future.” Blow cites data from a recent report that “half of U.S. children get no early childhood education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment.”
• More than a quarter of U.S. children have a chronic health condition, such as obesity or asthma, threatening their capacity to learn.
- More than 22 percent of U.S. children lived in poverty in 2010, up from about 17 percent in 2007.
- More than half of U.S. college students drop out without receiving a degree.
This is while China and other countries are expanding education and health care for their young people, he says.
There’s more. In a survey, K-8 teachers report hunger rising among their students.
Blow cites “a teacher in the Midwest as saying, ‘The saddest are the children who cry when we get out early for a snow day because they won’t get lunch.'”
In America. Outrageous.
What is the GOP, Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan’s response? Cut food assistance programs.
Anything but raising taxes, they say. “That’s socialistic!”
Instead the 1% take their ill-gotten gains and try to buy elections to install a president and Congress that will continue the pattern of aiding and abetting the “plutonomy.”
This is what is at stake in the November elections.
You don’t believe me? How about Citigroup?
In his article “Oligarchy in the U.S.A.,” Northwestern University political science associate professor Jeffrey Winters quotes a 2005 Citigroup report, which gave some straight talk to its super-wealthy clients.
Calling its clients leaders of a “plutonomy,” Citigroup said the heart of a plutonomy is income inequality facilitated by governments willing to give these capitalists favorable tax rates.
But Citigroup warned that such tax regimes are not forever. “[P]ersonal taxation rates could rise – dividends, capital gains and inheritance taxes would hurt the plutonomy.”
Winters argues the oligarchy employ every means necessary to keep its treasure from being taxed.
President Barack Obama’s minimal attempt to “curtail offshore tax havens in 2009,” Winters writes, was met with “outright hostility” from Republicans, “who argued that they would cripple American corporations’ ability to compete globally.”
It’s clear what a Romney administration would do. It would increase the obscene wealth gap, bring more misery to Americans, wreck the economy and threaten democracy.
Anyone who thinks they can sit this election out because “nothing ever changes” is not only irresponsible, but in for a rude awakening.
With Romney, change will happen. But it won’t be good.