Assorted links


For 3), it sounds like it raises costs by making it easier for hospitals and doctors to spam requests for reimbursements. And since Medicare (and Medicaid) partially have lower overhead by spending less on fraud detection, well, the result is natural.

To be fair, doctors and hospitals will sometimes say (but not loudly) that Medicare and especially Medicaid reimbursements are so low that if they didn't engage in a little billing for extra services, that it simply wouldn't be profitable to serve those patients. The fraud is, in other words, an attempt to evade the price ceiling.

Thank god somebody said something about the Romney tax returns. It's bizarre that the dialogue on dividend and capital gains taxes has gone the way it has.

This post made me write this:

Matt Yglesias made a similar point here, though unlike McArdle he favors low taxes on capital and keeping the corporate income tax instead of her trade.

I think that there's a lot more room for criticizing Romney's policies and vague non-policies than his tax records.

It is problematic that most people can't see through the ridiculous claims about taxation, though. Whether or not Romney wins (lol) isn't going to change much. But if people only understood double taxation...

All Americans living overseas who pay taxes to the country they live in understand all too well about double taxation, as America is the only industrial country which claims the right to tax its citizens' income even when that citizen is paying taxes to a foreign government on income earned in that foreign country..

And no, the foreign tax credit does not exactly change that fact for someone earning 100,000 dollars a year on a North Sea oil platform.

What do you mean? The foreign earned income tax exemption is valid up to $95,000 in income:

'The foreign earned income tax exemption is valid up to $95,000 in income'
Well, for 2012 - I haven't filed my 2012 taxes yet. For 2011, the last year I did file taxes, it was $92,900.

Which is why I picked 100,000 dollars for our hypothetical North Sea oil worker, who gets double taxed on $8,100 of his income, first by the country where he is employed, and then again by the American government - unlike any of the other people from other countries working on that rig, whether Norwegian or Dutch or Irish. And let's not even get started with the whole mess of exchange rates and American taxes - my income can remain essentially static in euro terms, but fluctuate in dollar terms in a quite noticeable way.

I assume that Romney, having much better tax accountants than I, carefully uses such ups and downs to carefully even out such 'currency' risk - for example, with option contracts he can exercise or not on Dec. 31, depending on the best way to structure his accounts. After all, it is what all the major corporations do - it isn't exactly an unknown technique, though it gets complex when dealing with the difference between declared profits for shareholders, and declared losses for the IRS (pro tip - not something to try at home unless you have a few million sitting around forgotten in a couple of offshore accounts).

But if people only understood double taxation…

You mean like when you pay sales tax on a purchase made with after-tax earnings?

But since everyone pays this tax regardless of the source of income, it is an irrelevant point. Nice try, though.

If people understood double taxation they would want lower income taxes and higher capital gains, since the incidence of corporate tax is mostly on wages.

I think the refusal to show these filings — and more — from the get-go was the fist major indication that something was really, really wrong with the Romney campaign.

If you want to be president of the U.S. you're going to need to reveal your tax returns, particularly if you're a really rich Republican that the media hate. That's just the way it is. If Romney thought it could be any other way, he's stupid. And if he doesn't employ people in his campaign who can explain politics well enough to convince him of that (or if he's just too obstinate to take political advice from anyone) then he's going to have a very, very hard time winning office.

Everything that has happened in the past couple weeks could have been predicted by the tax thing.

Did you see this takedown of Megan McArdle?
There is absolutely no reason to pay attention to anything she says.

I'm pretty sure that McArdle knows where the Mercatus Center is - right next to the Institute for Humane Studies, right? With many of the same funding sources? Maybe somebody should enlighten the poor commenters here about the sorts of relationships one discovers with the just tiniest bit of looking.

PA and friend, I don't really get your Koch allergies in this context. A good argument is a good argument no matter the pedigree or associates of the author. There are gems of insight in some miserable places (and vice versa). This article didn't resonate with me, but I wouldn't discount her whole body of work on funding ties. Sure it's useful to know the context for the writing, but that's more for weighing than for censoring. When you're listening to a single tune, then I'd be concerned.


Are you just a troll or are you trying to make a serious argument? I have naked capitalism in my rss feed. I am not ignorant of all the stuff you think we poor little sheep don't know. But you know what? I like to pretend sometimes that I judge arguments on their merits.

If an argument is valid, it does not matter wither the person offering is an ax murderer or a hypocrite. The argument is still valid. If an argument is not valid, then it does not matter if a saint or an angle is making the argument. The argument is still not valid.

If you can't judge an argument on its merits, then what good does it do to read anybody regardless of whether you know how they make their money or who they sleep with?

I'll answer both - I do think many casual readers and commenters are completely unaware of just how the money which finances many of the 'free' things found here is provided, and on what terms those providing this money expect a return on their investment.

I could talk about Til Hazel, having a lot more personal experience (still unsure where I worked, and for who? - let's just say I wasn't always exactly a commonwealth paid employee, in much the same way that people associated with the centers associated with GMU aren't exactly state paid for the work on the behalf of those centers - it is a fascinating discussion on its own terms, but I don't expect it to be explained from those with current intimate knowledge of how this particular shell game is played) from decades past working at GMU, but it doesn't have much relevance, except to show the basic modus operandi, which was in place decades ago. (Though the fact that both IHS and Mercatus are located at Hazel Hall always tickles me no end - I'm sure the plaque must be very nice.)

This is not the pet hobby of a couple of GMU professors just hanging out on the web, and neither are the links - and for those interested, Director Cowen laid out, succinctly, how such things are viewed when talking about Summers - 'I do understand your points but I think you are focused too much on direct channels of influence.' This blog is not about direct channels either, except for those providing the financing.

And it is interesting to see just how often a link is made to something which just happens, almost as if by coincidence, to be sponsored or connected to something which is almost, but never really quite, public institutions using the name of GMU to lend it a patina of academic respectability while hiding the fact that the process is much like pharma company drug tests - what doesn't serve the bottom line is never published.

In other words, arguments are picked before they are ever published, which means their validity is at best witin a restricted scope. Again, just like those published pharma tests - valid within their tight framework, and never publicly contradicted by the other results the pharma company simply never publishes.


I am still not getting it. Let us pretend that Cowen needs the support of nobody and God himself comes down out of Heaven and feeds him twice a day. Do you think that would mean that he does not have a point of view? Do you think that would mean he would not filter the stuff that gets on his blog? Do you think that the stuff that he links to would not tend to come from a circle of like minded friends and acquaintances? Do you really think that Cowen's ideological bent is not obvious? Do you really think that the internet is not full of people from equally prestigious institutions trying to refute what Cowen believes?

PA, I think the readers and commenters here understand that work is not randomly assigned. Where someone works, especially over the duration, says a lot about what they value. (A diehard goldbug would not be a happy camper at my work, even though there is diversity of thought.) All this leads to a very sensible point. Your RSS reader should span the set in areas you are intellectually curious about. Tell us about Mercatus/IHS funding (maybe not daily), but I think it's more dangerous to shut yourself off to views' you generally oppose. First of all you might miss a useful insight and second of all, you'll get lazy in your own arguments.

Ah, so you're also one of those people who believes that we shouldn't listen to Warren Buffet and others on taxes unless he voluntarily gives more to the IRS, and people who reject the Bush tax cuts should voluntarily give more up to the correct amount or be ignored, right?

Since that's the same level of logic as the "libertarian who accepts money form government programs" argument.

Plus, she's a girl.

I feel sorry for the housekeeper who had to clean the room where it was written.

Isn't it time you developed a better boogeyman?

"McArdle attended the University of Pennsylvania. She converted from “ultraliberal to libertarian” in her junior year, after working as a canvasser and field manager for Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Groups, which she called “the most deceptive, evil place I’ve ever worked.”

She's even more sinister than that! She's a Ralph Nader trained operative!!!!

Now that is planning ahead!

Would you guys please stop being dumbasses?

"Koch Trained"

What can that even mean?

Kochs, call me. I can be re-educated, preferably in Petroleum Engineering, for about $80k (or the prevailing wage) per year.

That little hit piece shows McArdle is so covert that it is obvious.

To protect her secret identity she says stuff like this right on her blog:

“My husband once had a fellowship with the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and works for Reason Magazine, which has been a recipient of funds from Koch charitable organizations.”

Now that is sneaky. Hiding in plain sight.

It appears A friend, that nothing you say or Naked Capitalism says should ever be paid attention to.

I took the one accusation that wasn't concern trolling and vague accusations of associations with the Kochs that McArdle advocates violence against antiwar demonstrations. I read the reference.

And the accusation is at best conveniently misleading and at worst a lie. McArdle didn't advocate anything for one. For two she expressed amusement at violence being met with violence as antiwar protesters were heard to be planning violent mischief. Her entire point ("pre-emptive" etc.) is predicated on the irony of peace protesters using violence in NYC and having liberal New Yorkers still reeling from 9/11 shutting them down.

So please, stop being dumbasses.

From McArdle -
'Mitt Romney has released his 2011 tax returns, and a summary of prior year payments from his accountant. The result is surprisingly unsurprising.'
Well, except for the voluntary 'overpayment' of federal tax, something Romney himself said never would happen, back in January (but then, Romney is famous for doing and saying different things at different times, or having people use truly innovative terms like 'rtetroactive retirement' to explain such differences between words and reality).

But more interesting is Romney and his foreign tax credits -

'For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Nicholas Shaxson delves into the murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws, and investigating just how much of Romney’s fortune (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone?) looks pretty strange for a presidential candidate.'

Continuing with article -

'To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.'

And it is that 2010 return which provides some insight into the really quite interesting use of foreign tax credits, since the foreign records stretch back further -
'Mr. Romney’s return shows how wealthy Americans with foreign earnings can sharply reduce their tax liability in the United States. In 2010 Mr. Romney reported $2.73 million of gross foreign income. On that amount, he paid foreign taxes of $67,173, or just 2.5 percent of his gross foreign income.

After all his deductions (including the kind of noncash charges that are central to all tax shelters, like depreciation) that multimillion-dollar sum declines to just $392,000 in taxable income. This amount appears on his federal tax return, but at his 13.9 percent effective rate, the federal tax on that income — $54,627 — was more than offset by a $129,697 tax credit for foreign taxes he paid in 2010 and earlier years….

Since Mr. Romney didn’t use all the foreign tax credit available to him in 2009, tax experts said he must have reduced the tax owed on his foreign income to zero. In the highly unlikely event he also reduced his taxable income from United States sources to zero, or even showed a loss, he would have owed no federal income tax in 2009.'

Really, Romney's tax returns from 2011 are as boring as a well paid team of tax accountants can make them - something McArdle seems to agree with.

Shame she can't look at Romney's much more interesting returns from 2007, 2008, 2009, or his Treasury forms listing his foreign bank accounts - which, apparently, he also 'retroactively' reported after not reporting his Swiss account information. (And there is some rumor that Romney took advantage of the recent 2009 government amnesty on non-reporting of foreign bank accounts to take care of that minor Swiss oversight, as the penalties for not filing that information are really, really stiff. A bit of background -

'IRS Actions to Ensure Compliance

In the 2009 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, some 15,000 taxpayers entered the program before it ended on Oct. 15, 2009, and another 3,000 came in late but were accepted. This program was relatively lenient compared to the 2011 and 2012 programs, which are supported by a host of information gathering initiatives, and slightly higher interest penalties.

We generously call this an “amnesty,” but there is nothing forgiving about it. If you had overseas accounts for any year between 2003 and 2011 that you have not reported, then run, don’t walk, to an international tax attorney and get an initial filing lodged A.S.A.P. If you do not, you may be looking at huge fines, confiscation of all the money in your overseas accounts, attachment of your U.S. income, loss of your U.S. assets – and significant prison time.

This initiative enables noncompliant taxpayers to resolve their tax liabilities and minimize their chances of criminal prosecution. When a taxpayer truthfully, promptly, and completely complies with all provisions of the voluntary disclosure practice, the IRS will not recommend criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice.' )

So what you're saying is that Romney paid too much tax money to foreign governments instead of the US? The foreign tax credit doesn't actually reduce your tax owed, it just keeps you from paying tax twice (just like how you can get a credit for paying tax to another state if you work in multiple states.) You pay the US rate if higher than the foreign rate.

The reason to take the foreign tax credit for most people is to diversify their investments to include foreign investment.

Ah, I see, you're claiming that he didn't report his foreign bank accounts to the US in earlier years.

I suppose lots of people hate foreigners, so your argument may get traction.

Do you know how foregin tax credits work? Assuming this link is the same article I read in the IHT, it should help provide some information - and it actually includes a bit of math to show just how attractive the foreign tax credit can be, when deployed correctly (pro tip - it really, really beats the mortgage deduction tax break) -

And second, I have been dealing with what is called Form TD F 90-22.1 for twenty years. I have yet to just forget a bank account containing enough money to make it worth having (a private Swiss banker won't get out of bed for less than a million, to paraphrase a quip), unlike Romney.

Who do you guys think you are talking to?

You are talking to people who dream about robbing USGov treasuries and handing out gold bars.

That article on Rushdoony is a disgrace. The America of 100 years ago had references to the deity everywhere in public institutions, school prayer and no gay marriage. It wasn't a theocracy. These arguments are of the Hitler was a vegetarian therefore vegetarianism is Naziism type. Sheesh.

Actually, there is nothing wrong with the vegetarianism is Nazism argument.

Except for it being utterly wrong, of course.

The Nazis popularized the ideas, including vegetarianism, of the 19th century German Romantics. If Hitler had not been a vegetarian, there would be no vegetarians in the West today, unless they had somehow managed to come up with the idea themselves without ever hearing about it. Nor would there be any animal protection movements or environmentalism. From a history of ideas perspective, vegetarianism is indeed Nazism.

It is always foolish to argue with a batshit mooncalf troll, but...

1. Vegetarianism was never part of Nazism at all. The Nazi government did not ban meat or persecute meat eaters, did not even promote or encourage vegetarianism. It was purely Hitler's own (alleged) personal idiosyncrasy.

2. Although there is a long prior history, vegetarianism did not even start to become mainstream until the Sixties. You could possibly cite Eastern influences like Buddhism or the same general zeitgeist that led to the Beatles' temporary infatuation with the Maharishi, or newfound openness to food ideas previously considered exotic (yogurt, etc).

How do you arrive at a position in life where you're actually stupid enough to believe that that without Nazism, there would have been neither vegetarianism nor environmentalism?

I mean really, it's an impressive feat of idiocy, which, magic-like, defies the human understanding.

Maybe they read Shelley or Tolstoy in prior to World War I? Possibly attended church? Maybe ate a Graham cracker?

Really, this is just me killing time, but here, to spare yourself from being more ignorant in public than necessary, here is a minor excerpt concerning the history of vegetarianism at wiki-

'During the Age of Enlightenment and in the early nineteenth century, England was the place where vegetarian ideas were more welcome than anywhere else in Europe, and the English vegetarians were particularly enthusiastic about the practical implementation of their principles.[74] A prominent advocate of an ethically motivated vegetarianism in the early 19th century was the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822).[75]

In England, Reverend William Cowherd founded the Bible Christian Church in 1809. Cowherd advocated vegetarianism as a form of temperance and was one of the philosophical forerunners of the Vegetarian Society. The Society was founded by the 140 participants of a conference at Ramsgate and by 1853 had 889 members. English vegetarians were a small but highly motivated and active group. Many of them believed in simple life and "pure" food, humanitarian ideals and strict moral principles.

In the United States, Reverend William Metcalfe (1788–1862), a pacifist and a prominent member of the Bible Christian Church, preached vegetarianism. He and Sylvester Graham, the mentor of the Grahamites and inventor of the Graham crackers, were among the founders of the American Vegetarian Society in 1850. Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, became an advocate of vegetarianism, and the Church has recommended a meatless diet ever since.

In Russia Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was the most outstanding supporter of vegetarianism.'

The earliest reference to vegetarianism that I can think of off hand is in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. I wonder if Hitler knew that vegetarians had Jewish origins?

"Although there is a long prior history, vegetarianism did not even start to become mainstream until the Sixties."

Certainly, vegetarianism was common enough in radical circles in England for George Orwell to make fun of it in "The Road to Wigan Pier" in 1937. Leon Trotsky also had a notorious remark where he described criticism of his brutal military tactics as "Kantian clerical, vegetarian Quaker chatter about the sanctity of human life."

So vegetarianism was, in the popular imagination, already associated with radicals, pacifists and Utopians in the early 20th century. The Nazi connection is very, very weak.

Which deity was referenced? There have been many deities throughout history. They seem to come and go with people's taste...

Electronic medical records are intended, and have explicitly been designed, to capture more revenue by automating billing. It's another volley in the little game that hospitals and insurers pay. The insurers come up with convoluted rules so they have an excuse to refuse payment due to a paperwork "error". Doctors band together into hospitals to reduce overhead and take advantage of paperwork economies of scale. Round and round it goes.

In capitalism, the customer is always right. And so it is in medicine. Only problem is, the customer is the insurance company/Medicare, not the patient.

379 pages?

Maybe the discussion should be less about marginal tax rates and more about the lunacy of the tax code.

The discussion was sparked by the fact that, like every other issue, Romney has taken so many positions on this one that he can't do anything without tripping over some previous statement.

He said that if he overpaid he wouldn't be qualified to be President. Then he had to overpay to avoid having lied about how much he was paying.

The tax code is an interesting issue. So is Romney's character. Neither works to his favor.

Mitt Romney's tax rates are much lower than when he was getting rich and working that during the time he was not working, with the lowest rates during Obama's term.

Obama's fiscal policies have failed, according to Romney.

Romney's solution is to cut taxes another 20% below the failed Obama tax rates which are lower than the tax rates when Romney was getting rich from working, along with all the other people getting rich from working.

Why would going back to the higher tax rates in place when Romney was working and getting rich be worse that continuing to cut tax rates even more which seem to have led to failed economic and fiscal policy?

Clearly Obama has failed to play the tax and spend liberal as Democrats are required to be conservative ideology and ram through draconian tax hikes on party line votes by legislative tricks like Clinton did to pave the way for Republicans to save the day with tax cuts, like Bush and Greenspan did. Romney is suffering from Obama failing to make Romney pay 25% effective tax rates by ramming through a Buffett rule using all his political capital in 2009, and thus thwarting health care reform.

From The American Spectator, Obama's Dangerous and Disastrous Presidency By QUIN HILLYER : "He has been the first president in history to push through a major new program without a single vote from the opposing party -- and while refusing to incorporate a single major idea from the other party, while ignoring overwhelming public sentiment to pass it, and while bending the rules in multiple ways to force it through Congress." That being national Romneycare which is of course the program of the radical leftist Democrat Gov Romney, with the 60th vote coming from the leftist lifelong card carrying socialist Arlen Specter. Of course, Bill Clinton's 1993 tax hikes were obviously supported by the majority of Congressional Republicans.

Obama is a trickster in forcing Republicans to hike taxes, which just leads to his plans to force Republicans to confiscate all of America's guns. This just proves how radical leftist and divisive Obama is by not doing as conservatives require Obama to act, because all liberals always hike taxes because they are always the opposite of conservatives who always cut taxes.

And let's be clear, Mitt Romney is the VICTIM of the Obama Chicago machine, so that's why he won't release his tax returns with 25-30% effective tax rates, and all the VICTIMS vote for Obama.

Obama is the most divisive president ever because the Republicans Party is just divided over how to respond to Obama - go with a pure right-winger and lose like Barry Goldwater did, or go with a moderate like Mitt Romney and lose because a moderate would be to the left of Obama. Romney's tax returns are the latest example because Romney needs to be suffering from crushing tax burdens while the leftist Obama is paying no income taxes, except Romney can't possibly make his tax rates higher than Obama because Obama hasn't rammed through the Buffett rule without any Republican votes. Or simply, Republicans are VICTIMS of Obama's divisive politics dividing Republicans...

And Romney releasing his tax returns now only makes Republicans VICTIMS.

I have every sympathy in the world with this type of argument. Money is a corrosive force when combined with political power and people's characters are important when they might be given power. But one thing really really bothers me. And that is the the type of people interested in doing this type of vetting are awful selective about which politicians get this type of treatment. It only seems to matter when there is an R after the name.

Yves Smith over at has a good peice on Megan McArdle, for anyone not familiar with her. I have to thank Barry Ritholtz for spotting it.

Are there really a lot of Liberals out there who truly think that the Mark Ames article truly is a good article? If so, Liberalism moral blinders are thicker than I thought. Stripped of the slander (it was alleged that her daddy was a bad guy, the horror) and the misleading use of information (Mark Ames takes pains to point out that she gets her information on global warming from people who get funded by the oil industry with out ever pointing out that she believes the standard line on Global Warming and she supports taking radical action to combat it) Ames ranting boils down to the fact that he think Megan McArdle is an evil person because of what she has publicly stated she believes. If that is your conception of evil, you might as well give up on civil discourse (and to be fair, Ames has).

If you are talking about the blog post I think you are, Yves Smith did not write it. Mark Ames is the one who wrote it and Yves Smith just allowed it to be posted. I used to think Ms. Smith was above trash like that, but it seems her standards has been slipping.

Is Romney finished? I think Romney is finished.

The Romney income/tax thingee is obviously an excellent political tool for Democrats.

It's also a useful tool for distinguishing (a) Democrats will who are either too dumb to follow the thread or who willfully argue in bad faith from (b) Democrats who think these things can be discussed thoughtfully.

I actually think the second group is bigger than one might assume from recent activity, but as the silly season draws to a close, the scales tip in favor of winning at all costs. Don't get me wrong- this is prolly more of a human universal than a peculiarity of Democrats.

As someone who does not think this is THE MOST CRUCIAL ELECTION OF OUR GENERATION, the phenomenon seems especially stark and unseemly to me.

A few years back, the Democrats face the task of unseating an unpopular president who was really hated by their base. For reasons known only to them they ran a unlikeable rich guy from Massachusetts against a President that they hated and they lost. Now the Republicans are trying to unseat a President that their base hates by running a unlikeable rich guy from Massachusetts. Wake me up when the story changes.

It's funny how some Democrats are supposedly too stupid to discuss this stuff thoughtfully, yet Megan McArdle is linked to above.

As is the case with people like her, she spends her entire time trying to change the subject. Romney's reason for paying more in taxes was simply that he wanted to fulfill a weird campaign promise. That's it. And this means...what?

It's funny how despite all of those words, she ends up by subtly agreeing with the Democratic argument: it looks like Romney is paying too little in taxes.

Thanks for sharing! Bucket (a) continues to grow, although it's not clear to me to which subgroup you belong.

I get your points, and I understand the concepts outlined, but it's not hard to see through your attempt to change the subject.


And why did Romney have to pay extra taxes to fulfill a campaign promise? Because he gave so much to charity. If his charitable giving had not been so high, his tax rate would have been higher. You can argue that everything was done for optics and I would not have a problem with that. But you are demonstrating reading comprehension issues if the fact that people giving away money in a matter that government rewards by lowering your taxable rate proves that Romney paid too little taxes.

In that case, the tax write offs that Obama took are also an example him not paying enough taxes (and I know his effective tax rate was higher, but his giving rate as a percentage of his income was far lower as well). Either it is valid to tax write offs for charitable giving or it is not. I don't see how you can say it is wrong for Romney to do it and okay for everyone else.

Personally, I think all write-offs should be done away with. But I am not about to stop taking them when I can.

And had his capital income been treated the same as labor income, it would have been higher still, which is the point. This back-and-forth over his charitable contributions is a waste of time. As usual, McArdle spends a lot of time debunking claims few if any were making.

Okay, that is your point.

But I don't think it is fair to say that few where making points that McArdle was dealing with. That just does not even pass the smell test. We had the Senate Majority leader claiming he had secret sources saying that Romney paid no taxes at all. We had all sorts of allegations of weird vehicles used to shield income from taxes (From Naked Capitalism among others). And all we got was the fact that capital gains is taxed at a lower rate than labor. We needed to see Rommey's tax's returns to tell us this?

More to the point, how does it differ from Kerry or Reid, or any of the other rich politicians out there. What makes Romney special?

What makes Romney special?

1. He was weaselly about it. Kerry released 20 years of his tax returns.

2. He's arguing that tax rates should be lower. Kerry didn't.

Ape Man,

It depends on how you interpret Reid. Is it likely that he literally paid no taxes on his income--as in, zero dollars--for ten years? I'd say not. It's more likely that he paid so little as to be considered zero.

Do we know for sure? Of course not, because we haven't seen any prior years. I'm not aware of anyone credible who has claimed he has done anything blatantly illegal. It's possible that he tested the limits in some way, but again, we don't know. We can only speculate.

What's clear is that he felt what was in the returns for prior years would have given him a big, big political beating, worse than the one he's taken so far. Given how badly this has damaged him, that's kind of amazing. This might be as simple as something along the lines of Paulson's housing market short, or it might be something like aggressive use of tax shelters. As I said, there are no indications that he did anything illegal, but that distinction can be lost on people. The solution would have been to release them at some point WAY earlier in the year, say April or so, along with a detailed explanation more complex than it needs to be to confuse those reporters who aren't familiar with this stuff. And when anyone brought it up, his campaign could have made some vague promise to make this simpler, or something. Whatever he did, he could have gotten over this. That he didn't try suggests he either has an absurdly incompetent political team or that he's damn sure whatever it is he doesn't want us to know could probably kill him.

Anyway, as far as tax policy goes, the fact that taxes are paid at the corporate level is important to consider, but it's not clear if/how it applies to every company. Does it? Specifically, does it apply to Bain?

#2 Why cannot we blow the cap off IRA contributions and allow people to pay progressive taxes only on what they do not put in their IRA + any withdrawals. Then all consumption is taxed at the same rate and taxes are greatly simplified.

Brian I am totally agree with your thoughts.

My fave Mark Ames article is the one where he boasts, in his 30s no less, of fucking a 15-year-old (search for the word "pervometer"):

My fave article about Mark Ames is the one written by a former associate of his who accuses him of being a rapist:

If you want to read more about what a bad person Mark Ames is, read Breitbart's attack on Ames last year (that's where I got these links from). Only Breitbart has the guts to tell the truth about the Kochs, about libertarianism, and about Mark Ames!

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