Category: Romney

Mickelson’s in a Tax Trap

EDWARD J. McCAFFERY, professor of law, economics and political science, USC’s Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN on Jan. 25.

Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty, is thinking of leaving California and perhaps America because, according to his own reckoning, he is facing tax rates of 62% or 63%. Mickelson, probably the second-most-famous professional golfer in the world after Tiger Woods, later backed off from his initial comments about making “drastic changes.”

Reports suggest that Mickelson earned more than $60 million in 2012. In that sense, he appears to be doing better than the Romneys, and perhaps you are not all that sympathetic to him.

Warriors on the Edge of a Fiscal Cliff

RON AVI ASTOR, professor of urban social development, USC School of Social Work.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

With the presidential race heading into its final stretch, both candidates vow to protect the sacred promises made to military families. But neither is offering any details on how they might support military families if we hit a fiscal cliff with budget cuts that could wipe out services for military and veterans’ families.

Month after month, in the midst of a heated presidential and congressional pre-election cycle, we see no organized blueprint to integrate millions of military family members into civilian society.

The Great Diversion: Romney’s Taxes

EDWARD J. McCAFFERY, professor of law, economics and political science, USC’s Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

By now, most of us have probably heard that Mitt and Ann Romney paid just under $2 million in taxes on income — virtually all from investments — of just under $14 million for 2011, an effective tax rate of 14.1%. This is a low tax rate, lower than the typical middle-class American worker pays, especially when one considers payroll taxes, the largest burden for most Americans. It should concern us that individuals of Romney’s wealth — analysis has put his personal fortune as high as $250 million, not counting some $100 million in trusts set up for his five children — pay so little as a percent in taxes.

Habits of the Heart Still Matter to Voters

DIANE WINSTON, Knight chair media & religion, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

What role will religion play in the 2012 elections? According to voters, not a big one. A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that most Americans are comfortable with what they know about the candidates’ faith and that their votes will have little to do with the nominees’ religion. In fact, a majority of the electorate is significantly more interested in Mitt Romney‘s tax returns and gubernatorial record than in his beliefs.

Some Call It Tax Planning — Or Is It Tax Cheating?

EDWARD D. KLEINBARD, professor of law, USC Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

For citizens hoping for serious tax policy and budget debates, this has been a dispiriting election cycle. One party urges tax rates too low to support any plausible platform from which government can deliver the services we all expect.

Those are the Democrats.

The other party inhabits a realm of fantasy akin to Erewhon, the fictional land created by the 19th century satirist Samuel Butler. In Erewhon, Butler wrote, “If a man has made a fortune … they exempt him from all taxation, considering him as a work of art, and too precious to be meddled with; they say, ‘How very much he must have done for society before society could have been prevailed upon to give him so much money.'”

Romney Courting an Unlikely GOP Constituency

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Have you heard the one about the Westside Jewish Republican Club? Its members take turns hosting the gatherings, and they meet each month in the host’s car.

The Democrats‘ advantage among Jewish voters might not be quite that extreme, but there’s no question that the Jewish community in this country has always leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party and its candidates. Read more →

Profiles in Tax Avoidance

EDWARD D. KLEINBARD, professor, USC’s Gould School of Law, and Peter C. Canellos, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

Mitt Romney’s refusal to release tax returns in the critical years of his income accumulation has done little to dispel the legitimate concern that arises from hints buried in his scant disclosure to date: Did he augment his wealth through highly aggressive tax stratagems of questionable validity?

One relevant line of inquiry, largely ignored so far, is to examine what exists in the public record regarding his attitude toward tax compliance and tax avoidance. While this examination is hampered because his dealings through his private equity company, Bain Capital, are kept shrouded, there are other indicators.

Romney’s Tax Disclosure Forms Overdue

EDWARD D. KLEINBARD, professor of law, USC’s Gould School of Law, and PETER C. CANELLOS, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

By announcing that he will release no further tax returns beyond his 2010 and 2011 returns, Mitt Romney appears to have exempted himself from the proud bipartisan tradition of presidential nominees displaying genuine financial candor with the electorate.

What is more, his disclosure to date is in the wrong direction: It is the release of Romney’s past returns, not his current ones, that matters.

Will Romney’s Veep Choice Be the Safe Choice?

DAN SCHNUR, director, USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

If you agree that a presidential nominee comes to the selection of his running mate the same way a football coach develops strategy for the last few minutes of an important game, then Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty are the political equivalents of running your fullback off-tackle.

There’s little risk associated with either choice: Both keep you moving slowly but surely in the right direction. So it’s no accident that as the polls stay close, speculation surrounding Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee has focused on these two eminently qualified but exceedingly cautious alternatives.

Earlier this year, when Romney trailed in the polls by wide margins, the strategic calculus was entirely different. When your team is behind by a couple of touchdowns, you put the ball in the