By now, you've probably heard that ultra-rich dude Mitt Romney released his tax returns last night (and a 2011 estimate this morning) and everyone is jumping on the returns like his grandkids on a decapitated piñata. He's running for office, for Pete's sake, why wouldn't we want to take a peek? The most unsurprising thing we learned about Mittens? He's rich. Loaded, even. He's no Warren Buffett but he does all right for himself seeing how he hasn't done squat the last six years other than run for President. You can peruse the 2010 return in its entirety below (yes, schedules are included) but for now let's cruise around the blogosphere to find out what some are saying.
First is our friend, Elie Mystal, who reminds everyone that the complexity of Willard's taxes is relative:
Romney is trying to spin his tax returns as an example for how “complicated” that tax code is. And the mainstreams [sic] media is overwhelmed and helping to push that line. But these taxes are not complicated for a tax lawyer — and when you make $20 million a year, you can afford some good ones, so doing your taxes is about as complicated as writing a check for legal fees…
Joe Kristan, who has seen his share of 1040s, wonders who at PwC kept their fingers crossed that WMR wouldn't be double-checking their work:
The return was signed by somebody at PricewaterhouseCoopers on October 15, at the end of the extension period. Can you imagine the scene if Mitt had pointed out a mistake on the return on the extended due date? I can only imagine the logistical nightmare of making sure the return was signed and filed by the taxpayers on time.
Kelly Phillips Erb, also a veteran of many tax seasons, is completely nonplussed and would like to get right to the heart of this thing:
I don’t think anyone really believes that Romney is cheating on his taxes. That’s never been what this has been about, despite Gingrich’s statements that he wanted Romney to release the returns to ensure that there’s nothing on them that will come back to hurt the GOP. Let’s call a spade a spade. This whole exercise has been about making Romney unlikeable.
NBC's Chuck Todd seems to think that this is perfectly timed for the President, who happens to be giving a small speech tonight:
If Team Obama could have picked any day to have Romney release his tax return, today might have been the day they'd pick.
Floyd Norris at the New York Times notices that the Romneys aren't interested in municipal bonds (a staple for the richies):
Mr. Romney is able to pay a relatively low overall tax rate without buying munis. In 2010, he and his wife reported $3,295,727 of interest income. Of that, $557 came from munis, the bonds that finance state and local governments. In 2011, the interest income was up to $4,099,156. None of that came from munis.
According to the Internal Revenue Service's most recent available statistics of income, for 2009, there were 8,274 taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $10 million or more, out of more than 140 million total returns filed. So anyone who makes more than $10 million would be in the top 0.006 percent of taxpayers. With an adjusted income of more than twice that – $21 million – in 2010, Mr. Romney would be even higher in the income strata.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent sees Romney as the punching bag the Dems have been looking for:
[Romney] personally symbolizes virtually the entire 2012 Democratic message. He is the walking embodiment of everything Dems allege is wrong with our system and the ways it’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and against the middle class. Yet this is the standard bearer the GOP seems set to pick.
And his colleague, Ezra Klein, takes a moment to go contrarian:
Romney’s taxes can be seen another way, too. The rich are job creators. They make money, they invest that money productively, and their investments create jobs. Democrats might prefer that the rich hand their fortunes over to the government, but that’s not, most Republicans would argue, how economies grow. During Romney’s career, he has made an enormous amount of money by taking over weak companies and, in many cases helping to turn them around, and he has used that money to finance further productive investments in the economy. That Democrats see something wrong with them is simply further proof of how little they understand about job creation.
I'll update this post with other interesting commentary and leave some of your own below.