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PW logo Another Poll Shows Close Florida Race President Obama's State of the Union Address
Economic Confidence Improving Gingrich Grabs National Lead Again
Previewing the State of the Union Address Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return

News from the Votemaster

Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return     Permalink

After fumbling the ball on his tax returns for several weeks, Mitt Romney finally released one year of tax returns (2010) yesterday, far less than the gold standard set by his father, George Romney, who released 12 years' worth during his 1968 run for the White House. In 2010 Romney earned $21.7 million from profits, dividends and interest. He had no income from salary. In 2010 he paid about $3 million in federal tax, for an effective rate of 13.9%, far less than the top rate of 35% on salary income. No one is suggesting Romney did anything illegal, but many people will soon be suggesting that the tax laws should be changed so that people with very high incomes pay the top rate in the tax code. Expect President Obama to make this point in his State-of-the-Union speech tonight. In a year where the 99% vs. the 1% is becoming a big issue, the fairness of the tax laws is bound to become a major campaign theme and one that is certain to cause trouble for Romney. If he tries to pull a Buffett and says: "People like me should pay a higher rate than their secretaries" nobody will believe him. He has said that people earning under $200,000 should be exempt from capital gains taxes, but he has never suggested taxing capital gains as ordinary income for people earning over $200,000.

Romney's wealth is estimated to be about $220 million, give or take a few tens of millions. This means he got something like a 10% return on his investments (unless it turns out he is still getting profits from his time at Bain Capital). At a time when many people have had large losses in the stock market and interest rates are at a historic low, 10% looks pretty good. This could work for Romney by showing his business acumen but first people are going to want to know how he managed this feat.

After Romney became governor of Massachusetts in 2003, some of his assets were placed in a blind trust overseen by Boston lawyer and private equity specialist R. Bradford Malt. If Malt did a good job of minimizing taxes and this information leaks out, the issue of fairness is bound to come up again and again. The problem isn't that Romney or Malt broke any law--in all likelihood people that smart adhered precisely to the letter of the law--the problem is the law itself and whether it should favor the very rich at the expense of ordinary Americans. This is a debate that Obama would love and which must give Romney nightmares.

Role Reversal in the Debate: Romney Attacks, Gingrich Plays Defense     Permalink

After his stunning defeat in South Carolina, Mitt Romney decided his "ignore-your-pesky-opponents" strategy was not working and went on the offense at last night's debate in Tampa, Florida. He attacked Gingrich for his ethical shortcomings and pointed out that he was forced out of Congress in disgrace by his colleagues in the House. He used the word "disgrace" repeatedly.

Surprisingly, Gingrich didn't fight back so much. In fact, his usual theatricals were entirely missing. To some extent, his problem was that moderator Brian Williams instructed the audience in advance to be quiet and not applaud or boo or react at all, a request it honored. As anyone who has been involved in the theater knows, actors respond enormously to the audience. When the audience is reacting well, the actors are energized and do a much better job. Without any audience reaction, as in past debates, Gingrich fell flat. Although it has been said he is a good debater, in truth he is more of a good actor. As such, he requires input from the audience to perform well. That input was lacking last night and, as a consequence, he didn't turn in a stellar performance.

Recent polls have shown that Gingrich's South Carolina win has completely eliminated Romney's previously large lead in Florida. However, it is well known that the average voter has the memory of a flea and by next Tuesday, what happened in the debate not far from Fort Sumter Jan. 19, 2012 could be as distant as what happened at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Gingrich seems to have already forgotten that what the Republican base likes about him is his fighting spirit. If he can't demonstrate that in Thursday's debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, his surge could collapse for the third time in this campaign and Romney could win Florida and probably seal his nomination.

Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich     Permalink

Failed presidential candidate Fred Thompson has endorsed Newt Gingrich. As if anyone cares what he thinks. The only note about this announcement worth mentioning is that it caused the NY Daily News, generally a conservative voice, to dredge up a photo of Thompson that makes him look like a yellowish monster from outer space about to wreak havoc on the earth.

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Previous headlines

Jan22 Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
Jan04 Iowa: Romney 24.6%, Santorum 24.6%, Paul 21.4%, Gingrich 13.3%
Jan03 All Eyes on Iowa Today
Jan03 The Horse Race as a Horse Race
Jan01 Happy New Presidential Election Year
Jan01 Iowa Caucuses Are This Tuesday
Jan01 Final Selzer Poll: Romney and Paul on top but Santorum Rising
Dec16 No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Dec11 Romney Offers Perry a $10,000 Bet During Debate
Dec11 Where is Sarah Palin?
Dec11 The 2012 Contest: Whole Foods Clients vs. Cracker Barrel Shoppers
Dec07 Gingrich Way Ahead in Iowa
Dec07 Obama Gives Fiery Speech Attacking the Republicans
Dec07 Pelosi Backtracks on Releasing Dirt
Dec04 Herman Cain Drops Out
Dec04 Gingrich Pulls Away in Iowa
Nov29 Woman Accuses Cain of Long-Running Affair
Nov23 Romney's Extended Family Could be a Problem
Nov23 Republicans Ignore China, Eurocrisis in Debate on Foreign Affairs

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