By Teresa Welsh |
In a word, no. One of the brilliantly important features of liberal democracies is respect for the rule of law. In theory, we all agree on what the law should be, and then everyone is treated equally under that rule. Romney, who derives most of his income from capital gains and earns deductions for things like charitable giving, has by all accounts obeyed the rule of law. In a democracy, this means that he has paid his fair share by definition.
Many problems exist in the tax code, but we should remember that it is in our national interest for people like Mitt Romney to keep their money. At a time where job growth is stagnant and we could use a little more charity, it makes sense to leave money in the hands of those who create jobs and act charitably. Romney is both.
For all the talk about looting and scavenging companies, Romney is fabulously generous. He has given away 16 percent of his income to charity over the past two years, which is far more than the 2-4 percent most Americans gave. In fact, according to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, Romney is generous even when compared to the top 5 percent of income earners, who donate just over 3 percent of their income per year. Plus, as the father of five children and longtime husband of one woman, Romney's non-economic life reeks of giving to others, as large families are both expensive and demanding. Amid his political aspirations, Romney's charitable demeanor continues to exhibit itself regularly and quietly.
Furthermore, he's competent and hard-working. Prior to his political career, Romney reinvested in companies to revive their fortunes. In the process, some people lost their jobs and some people went bankrupt. But by any measure, Romney has produced far more jobs than he has destroyed, as many companies grew exponentially under his watch. Thanks to Romney's rehabilitation, at least 150,000 people are currently employed in the US. Job creator clichés aside, Romney has actually created profitable jobs, something that requires investment, patience, and savvy.
The U.S. tax code makes little sense because of its nearly 200 individual tax expenditures and countless more corporate favors, but perhaps its most sinister characteristic is the incentive it provides for people to cheat the system. Romney, it seems, has not cheated the tax code, but rather has paid his fair share both to the government and in philanthropy. If Mitt Romney is not exactly the type of person Americans want to empower economically, I don't know who is.
About Daniel Hanson Economics Researcher at the American Enterprise Institute
Vishnu Sridharan Program Associate with the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation