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Stiglitz writes: "Mitt Romney's income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? "

Joseph Stiglitz speaks at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, 01/26/11. (photo: Getty Images)
Joseph Stiglitz speaks at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, 01/26/11. (photo: Getty Images)

Mitt Romney's Tax Avoidance Weakens Bonds of American Society

By Joseph Stiglitz, Guardian UK

03 September 12


If politicians and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will?

itt Romney's income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? In fact, it does matter - and not just for Americans.

A major theme of the underlying political debate in the United States is the role of the state and the need for collective action. The private sector, while central in a modern economy, cannot ensure its success alone. For example, the financial crisis that began in 2008 demonstrated the need for adequate regulation.

Moreover, beyond effective regulation (including ensuring a level playing field for competition), modern economies are founded on technological innovation, which in turn presupposes basic research funded by government. This is an example of a public good - things from which we all benefit, but that would be under-supplied (or not supplied at all) were we to rely on the private sector.

Conservative politicians in the US underestimate the importance of publicly provided education, technology, and infrastructure. Economies in which government provides these public goods perform far better than those in which it does not.

But public goods must be paid for, and it is imperative that everyone pays their fair share. While there may be disagreement about what that entails, those at the top of the income distribution who pay 15% of their reported income (money accruing in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens may not be reported to US authorities) clearly are not paying their fair share.

There is an old adage that a fish rots from the head. And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?

Democracies rely on a spirit of trust and co-operation in paying taxes. If every individual devoted as much energy and resources as the rich do to avoiding their fair share of taxes, the tax system either would collapse, or would have to be replaced by a far more intrusive and coercive scheme. Both alternatives are unacceptable.

More broadly, a market economy could not work if every contract had to be enforced through legal action. But trust and co-operation can survive only if there is a belief that the system is fair. Recent research has shown that a belief that the economic system is unfair undermines both co-operation and effort. Yet, increasingly, Americans are coming to believe that their economic system is unfair; and the tax system is emblematic of that sense of injustice.

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett argues that he should pay only the taxes that he must, but that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that taxes his income at a lower rate than his secretary is required to pay. He is right. Romney might be forgiven were he to take a similar position. Indeed, it might be a Nixon-in-China moment: a wealthy politician at the pinnacle of power advocating higher taxes for the rich could change the course of history.

But Romney has not chosen to do so. He evidently does not recognise that a system that taxes speculation at a lower rate than hard work distorts the economy. Indeed, much of the money that accrues to those at the top is what economists call rents, which arise not from increasing the size of the economic pie, but from grabbing a larger slice of the existing pie.

Those at the top include a disproportionate number of monopolists who increase their income by restricting production and engaging in anti-competitive practices; CEOs who exploit deficiencies in corporate-governance laws to grab a larger share of corporate revenues for themselves (leaving less for workers); and bankers who have engaged in predatory lending and abusive credit-card practices (often targeting poor and middle-class households). It is perhaps no accident that rent-seeking and inequality have increased as top tax rates have fallen, regulations have been eviscerated, and enforcement of existing rules has been weakened: the opportunity and returns from rent-seeking have increased.

Today, a deficiency of aggregate demand afflicts almost all advanced countries, leading to high unemployment, lower wages, greater inequality, and - coming full, vicious circle - constrained consumption. There is now a growing recognition of the link between inequality and economic instability and weakness.

There is another vicious circle: economic inequality translates into political inequality, which in turn reinforces the former, including through a tax system that allows people like Romney - who insists that he has been subject to an income-tax rate of "at least 13%" for the last 10 years - not to pay their fair share. The resulting economic inequality - a result of politics as much as market forces - contributes to today's overall economic weakness.

Romney may not be a tax evader; only a thorough investigation by the US Internal Revenue Service could reach that conclusion. But, given that the top US marginal income-tax rate is 35%, he certainly is a tax avoider on a grand scale. And, of course, the problem is not just Romney; writ large, his level of tax avoidance makes it difficult to finance the public goods without which a modern economy cannot flourish.

But, even more important, tax avoidance on Romney's scale undermines belief in the system's fundamental fairness, and thus weakens the bonds that hold a society together.

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, has pioneered pathbreaking theories in the fields of economic information, taxation, development, trade, and technical change. He is currently a professor at Columbia University, and is the author of "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future." your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+89 # brux 2012-09-03 15:34
I read the book ... it is one of the better documented and well-reasoned books on why this happened, and what needs to be done to make things better.

The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz
+26 # Vardoz 2012-09-04 09:28
The problem is we don't have enough smart and informed people. The whack jobs that showed up at the GOP convention, as shown on Alexandra's mini doc that you can find on UTUBE ,is a frightening example of who makes up the many hateful and twisted folk who plan to vote for R & R. They are truly sheep among wolves.
+23 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-09-03 17:29
I am worried about Armageddon not taxes,
+26 # brux 2012-09-03 22:08
We have to start to separate all the fear-mongering - on both sides, Republican and Democrat both .... stop reflexively letting these bozos scare us and let's focus on what is important.

Stiglitz is really excellent in his book on laying out how and why this happened and what we can do about it. If we do not know what to do, perhaps the best thing is to express unhappiness and disapproval about what is happening in the country - BECAUSE OF BOTH PARTY'S "BROWNNOSING" TO THE RICH AND POWERFUL AND CORPORATIONS,

It was not just the Republicans you know that allow Mitt Romney to get away with paying such a low rate of taxes ... 13% last year, but even by his own standards Romney said he didn't think he ever paid under 11% ... that is just reprehensible, but it is the same thing with some Democrats too.

Look at Warren Buffet, he pays less than his secretary, talks about it and says it's wrong ... but what does he do to change it or make it fairer. That is what we get from Democrats.

Of course these people are not going to drive the change, it has to come from all of us screaming about it that we will not take it anymore!
+9 # engelbach 2012-09-04 13:36
In all fairness, Buffet is not in the government and can do nothing personally to change the tax code.
+7 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:22
Biden is of course correct, RoMoney/Lyin Ryan does indeed want war with Iran, absolutely no question! His kids will not be in harms way, his supporters will gain tons of cash, and the poorer folks will supply the cannon fodder. What is the down side?
+122 # freeportguy 2012-09-03 18:05
Greedy people do NOT care about the economy as a whole, or their country. Their own personal situation is the ONLY thing they care about.
+31 # brux 2012-09-03 22:11
That why we need to tax these people - so they can be as greedy as they like, and if they are very successful - then still some LARGE percentage of their income goes to the country even if they do not care personally.
+33 # pernsey 2012-09-03 23:46
Quoting freeportguy:
Greedy people do NOT care about the economy as a whole, or their country. Their own personal situation is the ONLY thing they care about.

Thats the republican mantra, I got mine so screw the rest of you!
+23 # mim 2012-09-04 08:16
And when they run for office, they court the screw-you-I've- got-mine vote.
+13 # pappajohn 2012-09-04 03:48
Sad but true.

Also, unfortunately true about the majority of our electorate & citizens. It's just more understandable when you are operating hand-to-mouth rather than making $24 million a year on investments...
-56 # edge 2012-09-04 04:46
I am sure that the Obama's have income from dividends and I bet they pay the same percentage as Romney did so don't be so high and mighty!

If Romney is a scumbag on taxes then so are the Obama's and the Clinton's!!

Quoting freeportguy:
Greedy people do NOT care about the economy as a whole, or their country. Their own personal situation is the ONLY thing they care about.
+37 # freeportguy 2012-09-04 07:58
You are "sure"? Well why dont you check the numerous tax returns he disclosed? Too bad we can't do the same with Romney's...

One thing we know is that Obama doesn't up have accounts in Caymans or Switzerland.
-33 # edge 2012-09-04 09:27
Quoting freeportguy:

One thing we know is that Obama doesn't up have accounts in Caymans or Switzerland.


Obama's 2009 Tax return shows FOREIGN INCOME from "various Countries" as $820,751.00 and last year FOREIGN INCOME "other countries" $269,710.00

That is income from OUTSIDE the US, so check the Tax Returns before you spread those lies!
+28 # rertel 2012-09-04 10:15
Obama sold books outside the country just like GM sells cars outside the country, GE sells planes, and Kelloggs sells cereal. This is different from accounts in the Caymans.
+16 # Todd Williams 2012-09-04 12:55
Edge, you are the one who is spreading lies. Foreign income doesn't mean you are hiding money in an offshore account. Are you telling me that Obama is not permitted to earn money overseas? Check your facts before you spout drivel.
+8 # pernsey 2012-09-04 14:01
Your not dealing with Fox news sheeple, we know the Fox news lies when we see them. This is not the same as having caymen accounts to dodge paying taxes. Edge there is just no truth in what your saying. You have a reference for Obamas taxes, why dont we have them for Mitt?

As hard as your try to rationalize things, your just not telling the truth...period!
+7 # Mannstein 2012-09-04 15:53
If one earns income outside the country and pays taxes on it what the hell is wrong with that. It's the guys that use secret Cayman Islands bank accounts that we should worry about.
+6 # James Smith 2012-09-04 16:44
The point is, he does show the tax returns and paid taxes on that foreign income. But if you have an irrational unreasoning hatred of Obama, little things like fact do not matter, do they?
+5 # James Smith 2012-09-04 16:46
The point is, BHO did reveal the tax returns and he did pay taxes on foreign income. But if you have an unreasoning hatred of Obama, facts do not matter, do they?
+5 # angelfish 2012-09-04 17:51
Quoting edge:
Quoting freeportguy:

One thing we know is that Obama doesn't up have accounts in Caymans or Switzerland.


Obama's 2009 Tax return shows FOREIGN INCOME from "various Countries" as $820,751.00 and last year FOREIGN INCOME "other countries" $269,710.00

That is income from OUTSIDE the US, so check the Tax Returns before you spread those lies!

The President DISCLOSED his Tax returns. WHY won't Mittens? Do you have a site we can go to to check HIS?
+13 # Atia 2012-09-04 12:55
In 2010 Obama paid 25%, and Romey paid 13.7%.
+85 # Activista 2012-09-03 21:11
Joseph Stiglitz is ONE economist I can agree 100% - arguments supported by facts.
Please read and think. Where is NYT? Do powers let him on TV. Would call him Einstein of Economics - he deserve 2nd Nobel Price.
+38 # brux 2012-09-03 22:12
Stiglitz is one of the few, along with Robert Reich and Matt Taibbi and some few others that really can speak clearly with authority on this and explain things to people - IF AMERICANS CAN LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND.
+33 # mim 2012-09-04 08:18
Paul Krugman is another.
+10 # pietheyn07 2012-09-03 22:36
One might add, that promoting schemes that enhance ones wealth, is a matter of character.
+18 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-09-03 23:42
Ray of Hope is J. Stiglitz.

And, a second huge ray of hope - we the sheeple actually have grabbed hold of important, basic Stiglitz understandings, and applied them to signs and chants as we have and still do all we can to...OCCUPY WALL STREET !

Activism based on "...arguments supported by facts." Of course the 'mess' media does not allow Stiglitz on TV, any more than Occupiers get coverage. Cannot have truth being told, now can the greed and power addicted, evil villainaire rulers.
+27 # giraffee2012 2012-09-04 00:02
Mitt and his wife care about the USA about as much as Hitler cared about the Jews. The reference us as "you people" - clearly they think of themselves on a high thrown - Romney is part of the new "make money" by borrowing and making another entity pay the borrowed money back - explained in Rolling Stones magazine.

If only we were smart enough to understand that jobs to the Mitts are beyond his comprehension - but alas, his rhetoric has as much truth and credibility as his way of life.

He's a "me me" kind of guy who cannot comprehend "you guys" and as president he will sleep with "his guys" and to hell with "you guys"

VOTE OBAMA and Dem and for g'ds sake VOTE and don't use a Diebold machine. Ask for paper ballot
+14 # Activista 2012-09-04 11:19
Agree - Romney is a SPECULATOR - NOT business man as Clint and dupes from MS called him. What value for the American People he created? He would be worse than Reagan to increase already bankrupted USA debt via militarism.
+7 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:32
Romney is a SPECULATOR - NOT business man as Clint and dupes from MS called him. What value for the American People he created?
Activista, You called that on right , correct spot on, etc. JUST what did he create of value? He created jobs in the southeast Asia, fired Americans, and pocked tons of money while getting very favorable tax expenses, IF he paid ANY!
+33 # Lgfoot 2012-09-04 00:14
Romney's refusal to release his returns is prima facie evidence that he has mischaracterize d income in an effort to evade taxes. While he could count on fooling an overworked IRS employee or two, he knows his returns cannot withstand the scrutiny that dozens if not hundreds of reporters and their staff would devote to analyzing every line of those returns.
+4 # Regina 2012-09-04 15:39
Let's not forget the $77,000 or so that he wrote off as a business expense -- care and feeding of their horse! We sure don't get writeoffs for our Alpo and pet-doc expenses -- even the pets of the superrich are different!
+25 # angelfish 2012-09-04 00:15
Does it matter whether or not Mitt Romney and his Wealthy Cronies pay their FAIR share of the Tax Burden? Of COURSE it does! EVERYONE Bi*ches about Taxes and, like Death, they are unavoidable, UNLESS of course, you are WEALTHY! In my opinion, it cheapens Romney and makes him look like the Deadbeat he IS, by refusing to be open about his wealth and his hiding the bulk of it in Off Shore, TAX FREE havens. What would happen to American Society if EVERYBODY did that? The man is as rich as Croesus for God's sake, you'd think that he and the rest of the Deadbeat Mega-Gazilliona ires would be HAPPY to give back to the Country that allowed them to garner all their Wealth! HOW is that Patriotic? WHY are they above the Law? WHY aren't they ASHAMED to be getting a free ride at the expense of Americans who are ALREADY under water? There WAS a time in this Country when the Wealthy were quick to step in in times of Crisis. THESE egregious ME FIRSTers have been the FIRST to jump into the Lifeboats while the rest of us are going down with the Ship! A POX on Mitt Romney and ALL who think like him! Just remember that, as ye sow, so also shall ye reap. If he gets in, this is one Ship of State that's SUNK! So, REGISTER, help Friends, Family and Acquaintance to do the same, get valid I.D. for your State and GET to the Polls on November 6th, and oh yes, never, EVER Vote Rethuglican!
+4 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:34
Shame is beyond their comprehension.
+19 # karlarove 2012-09-04 00:25
Mitt's taxes DO matter, and thanks to his running for President we have been given an opportunity to see quite clearly how the tax laws benefit the .0001%. His extensive tax filing, over 550 pages shows how to maneuver around tax laws. Also, not much is said in the news about how the capital gains tax rate at 15% really benefits the wealthy, they are the only ones who have substantial capital gains income. And don't forget about the carried interest rule. While we working Americans earn income and pay taxes on the wages we receive for working, Mitt can wheel and deal, but his earned income can be eclared carried interest, and he only pays 15%, rather than 35%. Even though he was working to put those deals together. Middle Class Americans don't have the benefit of the House of Congress or the Senate representing us. The "carried interest" provision of the U.S. tax code has repeatedly been targeted for elimination by Democrats who say it is unfair, even though it was passed 3 times by a Democratic House of Representatives since 2007, while the private equity industry defends it. It's pretty clear who they work for.
+27 # Wolfchen 2012-09-04 02:30
Let's stop pussy-footing around and call it for what it is: Economic Treason
...committed by those who have no loyalty to any nation, no sense of responsibility for humanity and our planet, and who are aided and abetted by treacherously prevaricating politicians, our Supreme Court majority, as well as the delusional political party loyalists who have lost the capacity for intelligent analyses. While they are destroying civilizations worthy of saving, they insult even their own god-head by portraying god as greedy, ignorant and racist.

What a recipe for disaster...unle ss they are neutered. This is not the time for accommodating such treachery. They must be successfully opposed and prevented from destroying our beautiful planet and all those who honor justice. Let's not just talk about it...let's unify and be successful in our actions.
+1 # MylesJ 2012-09-04 15:13
I've posted this sentiment at other sites only to have the comment never show or disappear.
+3 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:36
Very good term: ECONOMIC TREASON. It fits Mitt the TWITT!
+4 # angelfish 2012-09-04 18:01
Wolfen, you have hit the nail on the head! It is EXACTLY "Economic Treason"! Thank You for giving a name to what has been the ReTHUGlican Stock in Trade for the last hundred PLUS
years in this Country! Thank You!
+21 # Peace Anonymous 2012-09-04 05:19
The American taxpayer gets the bill for invading Iraq but where does the profit go? Into a few hands. Go back through history and look at the changes in legislation. Who owns D.C.?? Tell me again the story about freedom and democracy. Coproate America tells us they want to keep the government out of business but the truth is we must get business out of government. The taxpayer gets the bill but oil companies, defense contractors and Wall Street benefit from almost every change in legislatation over the course of the last 50 years. They take the cream off the top and in the same breath tell you that they should be above paying taxes because, after all, without them we would have nothing. There will be nothing left if we allow this charade to continue.
+16 # RLF 2012-09-04 05:42
When people believe that the deck is stacked against them by the very people that are dealing the cards, and when they see the rich and bankers do huge thieving scandals, being fined minimally, but never spending a minute in jail, it causes the honest, hardworking person to become corrupt. The law becomes nonsense to be avoided and broken because it is crap...feel familiar...ever y day we see another corruption scandal even at local levels. Cheating has become good business. We have become a third world nation.
+9 # mim 2012-09-04 08:24
That is the REAL trickle-down effect.
+14 # Scott479 2012-09-04 05:49
The 1% have amassed such wealth that America has become a "fly over nation" so you can forget about there being ANY sense of a shared societal mission coming from people who conduct their entire life by the mantra that more than enough's just a good place to start.
+16 # walt 2012-09-04 06:06
This election is a seriously critical one for the USA. It's a battle between those who believe government needs to be strong and set the ground rules for the country, and those who are fighting desperately to increase the plutocracy in which the moneyed powers control us.

We have seen how "privatization" and low tax rates for the rich and corporations have not worked and plunged us into debt while those desperate to keep the corporate control spend millions attacking our own people and their needs.

This should be a "no-brainer" for intelligent people. Romney, a classic vulture capitalist, and the Republicans would be the wrong choice for America!
+14 # mim 2012-09-04 08:51
Once more, with feeling: GET OUT AND VOTE! Even if you have to hold your nose. If you don't have a second hand free, bring a clothespin.

The Republicans are counting on the non-votes of cynics and disillusioned progressives. They even funded Nader ads in Oregon in 2004.

Think back to 2000. Think back to 1968, if you can. If you can't, ask a Boomer.

If you still need persuading, I have two words for you: Supreme Court. There will almost certainly be a vacancy on the Court in the next four years, and the Justice most likely to leave one is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Which would you like to see, another Sotomayor or another Scalia? The latter would be the final nail in the coffin of our democracy.
+15 # Barbara K 2012-09-04 06:10
It is really irritating how the Republicans cover up these crooked dealings by Romneyhood. If it were the President or any high or low ranking Dem., the Rs would be screaming their lungs out and it would be on every news organization. Great report, explains much.
+10 # pernsey 2012-09-04 09:13
Quoting Barbara K:
It is really irritating how the Republicans cover up these crooked dealings by Romneyhood. If it were the President or any high or low ranking Dem., the Rs would be screaming their lungs out and it would be on every news organization. Great report, explains much.

Aint that the truth Barbara, their excuses would become rage if a dem wouldnt disclose his taxes, but as if by magic, because its a republican they make excuses for him. Its lunacy!
+14 # Nell H 2012-09-04 06:22
Romney wants lower taxes for the rich -- why? He already uses all kind of gimmicks to pay a lower percent than I do? What is he aiming for? 0%? The rich are clearly not paying their share now.

He should show us his past tax returns. He must have done something the American people would not approve of or he would let us see them.
+1 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:42
I need to believe RoMoney paid 0% tax for 10 years as Reid said, but he had to use lawyers and chicanery to do it, therefore his reason to cut his taxes while raising yours. Economic TREASON!
-41 # PastorEd 2012-09-04 07:01
As a Conservative Evangelical Pastor for over 40 years, I have sought many times to engage the Liberal Left in polite and respectful conversation about our differences. The Reader Supported News articles come as close as I've found to what I've been seeking.

"Whoever decided to publish that didn't think through what was written. The Stiglitz article today is an example of that.

Stiglitz commented that the 'tax issue' about Romney's just releasing what the law requires "weakens American society". Really. Does he honestly believe that the fabric of American excellence, and zeal for independence will really unravel because one candidate does not give in to his opponents?

How could RSN maintain a high level of integrity and print such a thing.

Suppose a supporter of Romney made a statement at a public forum that Obama's attack against the U.S. Constitution was going to eliminate American freedom of thought. Well, for what it is worth, at least half of the U.S. Congress (Republican and Democrat) have private trusts that enable them to reduce their tax responsibility.

Just a request to think through to the logical conclusion of your opening lines. Heaven help us !

Nevertheless, keep going RSN. It helps reduce the division between left and right.
+19 # pernsey 2012-09-04 09:17
Pastor Ed, respectfully... what would your response be if a democrat was not willing to release all but a year and a half of their taxes and they were running for president? Would you defend him or be talking about how he needs to be accountable? My guess is you will vote for a mormon over a christian and defend him, because its the republican thing to do.
+7 # Atia 2012-09-04 13:06
pernsey, there's no need to even ask this question; NO, Democrats would never be allowed to get away with providing so little, if any, information as "Rip Nomney"...can you imagine Hannity etal of Fox Noise?
I'm so tired of hearing about the liberal media - what a crock - they all bend over backwards, erring on the side of the far right, so as to appear as fair as possible!
+2 # pernsey 2012-09-04 16:12
Quoting Atia:
pernsey, there's no need to even ask this question; NO, Democrats would never be allowed to get away with providing so little, if any, information as "Rip Nomney"...can you imagine Hannity etal of Fox Noise?
I'm so tired of hearing about the liberal media - what a crock - they all bend over backwards, erring on the side of the far right, so as to appear as fair as possible!

I already know the answer, they would be screaming bloody murder, and Fox news would be going nuts. I asked the question on the off chance it would bring some rational thought into the minds of the can always hope anyway.
+14 # mim 2012-09-04 09:21
If another member of Congress were running for president, we would expect the same of him or her. This is a precedent set in 1968 by the current Republican nominee's own father and observed by presidential candidates ever since. It shows the attitude toward wealth that the candidate himself puts into practice.

Romney is calling the electorate to trust him based on the pieties he repeats and probably also on his presidential appearance. "Trust me" won't wash.
+2 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:46
Read : "What liberal media?" by Eric Alterman. It was published a while back, but is even more true today.
+2 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:47
He told the same lie when running for governor "trust me" It was a big fat LIE
+9 # rertel 2012-09-04 10:12
1)Read line 3. It explains why Romney's taxes are particularly relevant to this election.
2) Gov. Romney is departing from decades of tradition. As Stiglitz explains, taxes are largely on the honor system; audits are few. Voters should be given the information, in this case tax returns, which demonstrates a candidate is honest and trustworthy in his/her financial dealings. Gov. George Romney understood this and set the standard his son is now refusing to live up to.
3) While I am quite concerned about the Obama Admin's actions relative to the 1st and 4th Amendments(warr antless searches, actions against whistleblowers, etc.), I'm guessing your comment relates more to the Affordable Care Act and other Conservative canards. First, if I tried to refuse health insurance even pre-Affordable Care Act, MY EMPLOYER would not let me. This is still the case for 90% of employed people since group health plans MANDATE that all group members participate. Given this, the good that comes with 47 mil more insured, no denials for pre-existing conditions, coverage for children through age 26, and numerous other benefits that lead up to lower costs for everyone much more than offsets the requirement that every citizen who has a body must take responsibility for caring for it by purchasing insurance. This is individual responsibility. Isn't that something Conservatives support? They did when they proposed the mandate.

0 # mdhome 2012-09-04 15:51
Employers that provide health insurance today are rare, the folks working for Wallyworld have no employer supplied insurance, so they go on government medicaid, or use the ER.
+6 # Wolfchen 2012-09-04 12:35
Oh yes, then you go on about American excellence. You mean as exemplified by racism, greed, child abuse, perpetualtion of ritualistic ignorance, assaults upon the vulnerable...yo u mean that kind of American excellence?

Yes, there is excellence in America, such as is expressed in the forms of honest compassion and love, hard work, sense of fair play, and a desire for true enlightenment. If you read with understanding, these are among the examples of American Excellence that are expressed by most of the contributors to sites such as this. These are the forms of American Excellence that you American Taliban types want to destroy.

Whatever the Great Creator is about, it's not as is described by your preachings and actions. You may wish to read the teaching of Christ with understanding, rather than using religion for purposes of mind control of the disadvantaged. In the military, we have a doctrine of "Leave no wounded behind". Well there are those who are wonded by a gluttonous society...and an honorable person would not leave them behind.
+6 # Wolfchen 2012-09-04 12:46
Pastor Ed...the Conservative Evangelical Pastor...perhap s better described as a part of the American Taliban:
Man up and reveal:

*** how many members of the cloth participate in book censorship and burning (like they did during the reigns of Fascism and Communism);

***how you champion a destruction of the constitutional guarantee of Separation of Church and State;

*** how you don't want to pay any taxes that pay for education, national infastruction, healthcare et al...while at the same time use the funds you fleece from the flocks to get envolved in politics;

*** how you loath science, because it serves to make people more educated and free from the tyrrany of ignorance...and how you believe that an enlightened flock is a threat against church tyranny that's taken the forms of burning at the stake, hanging of witches, excommunication s for those who challenge your decrees. Ah yes, and then there's the need to bend women low to the demands of male dominence. Keep them uneducated and pregnant, all in God's name of cource.

***how you portray God as a vengegul, rapacious, fear-mongering, prevaricating, war loving, enslaver of minds and bodies;

***how you desicrate Christ's messages of helping the poor, healing the leapers, and throwing the money changers from the Temple.
+7 # Todd Williams 2012-09-04 13:06
Who cares that you're a conservative evangelical pastor? I certainly don't think that makes your comments any more believable than my comments. I also see that you assume Obama is attacking the U.S. Constitution. That's a biased, unfounded statement; one which you cannot prove. And just a little hint about my personality: I think that ALL religions are ripping off the American people with their phony tax exempt status. Pray on that.
+5 # Peace Anonymous 2012-09-04 14:44
Pastor....follo w the money. Romney will end up in your congregation and will fill his pockets when the plate goes by.
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-09-04 17:50
Quoting PastorEd:

"Does he honestly believe that the fabric of American excellence, and zeal for independence will really unravel because one candidate does not give in to his opponents?"

What fabric of American "Excellence" and "Zeal for independence" would that be (Additional parentheses mine), prithee?
The current American attitude to (financial and material) wealth, not to be confused with "excellence" almost a redundant phrase there days, is not to produce anything but use the means of others in risky gambles for obscene profit, avoid paying taxes towards the common good, pay workers as little as possible and eventually enslave them for the aggrandizement of the owner-rulers. As you hinted at, wealth is mandatory to run for office and abuse of power is almost a default result.
"Zeal for independence" is a phrase very much open to interpretation, especially if one is able to afford independence and manipulate it's protection for personal power and insulation from the masses. Independence from what? Government? Community? The Church? -Add to taste.
And pastor (respectfully). Do you seek to influence your flock in how they should vote, and does your church pay taxes?
Personally, I don't envy anybody material wealth if that's what blows their kilt up, but I do object to them begrudging their fair whack of support to the civil society that they seek to dominate rather than govern equitably.
What would Jesus do?
+2 # mjc 2012-09-05 08:59
And you are a pastor?! Not paying your fair share, lying about your payments, depriving the much-hated federal government from the fair share of your income in taxes, those are felonies at the least and DO INDEED weaken the fabric of our society.
+1 # giraffee2012 2012-09-05 16:33
PasterEd - I mean this in the nicest way: Preach your Hitlerian rhetoric to your flock and keep your "blue blood" flowing in their direction because you have lost your way of a "Pastor" (meaning a teacher of the Golden Rules and the Surmon on the Mound - "Do unto others...."

If your Mitt-ler has not NOT paid his fair share, then he would have no trouble sharing that information with those he wants to vote for him =Americans who do pay their fair share.

RSN has more integrity in each article than any "Conservative Evangelical" I've heard in my 70+ years. In fact, what does "Evangelical" stand for or indicate? The Christians I know play fair and help those in need. Not being a religious person I usually respect a person's choice to a religion but when I read what you wrote - and I mean this in the nicest way - I cannot respect your "double speak"

Rest of you guys - Please VOTE 2012 and VOTE straight DEM. Vote OBAMA. And get all you can get OUT to vote for DEM/OBAMA
0 # giraffee2012 2012-09-05 16:49
PastorEd - From our Constitution we Americans kind of feel the separation of state is basic. We won't come to your church and preach politics and I, for one, don't wish to hear your opinion (especially since you made the point of identifying your self with church - as if that identity would make you more important than "average-joe" who writes comments.

As you can see from the red negative check marks you received, you 'opinion' as if based on something higher than us common folks who don't brag a "title" was not well received.

1.) Your tirade is a copy of the GOP/TP memorized mantra
2.) Us ave/poor folk pay our taxes and cannot hide earnings to avoid paying taxes
3.) If Mitt had nothing to hide - well "that partial sentence" speaks for itself.

4.) Your lecture only solidifies us liberal, left-wing, caring individuals - more than you can imagine.

Good Bye PastorEd until you open your eyes to TRUTH about your Mitt (or Ryan) -- Is Mittler or Paul-ler leading on that ticket? (please don't answer me PastorEd - bc we know - the $$ people who put them on the ticket!)
+7 # cordleycoit 2012-09-04 07:05
Some how I am not impressed by yet another clean up the market conservative economist excesses guy. The neo marketters are attempting to patch the Titanic with a band-aide. Capitalism died some time back and the Zombie capitalists stink, they have death on their breath.
+18 # Elroys 2012-09-04 08:04
Fairness is the key. There's been an explicit agreement in U.S. tax codes that say the greater one's income the greater your tax responsibility - the higher the percentage you pay. This is the essence of the progressive tax system in our country. During Ike Eisenhower's Presidency, the top marginal rate was 91%, John Kennedy (a Dem) reduced that to 71%, then Reagan cut that in half (and then raised is when he saw the folly of such a huge reduction). In Romney's world, the more you make, the more expensive your tax attorney - to help you cut your taxes as close to zero as possible. Then, if you run for President, you tell people that it's your patriotic duty to pay as little as you can get away with. This, in turn, destroys the bedrock of fairness and trust that our nation is built upon. We can trust Mitt Romney to do his utmost to reduce taxes of the wealthy to near zero and cut any spending that benefits the middle class and less fortunate than himself and his buddies if he's elected. There will be nothing left for national investments in education, the clean renewable energy systems, infrastructure , climate change, anything else (besides the war machine - which benefits the wealthy and destroys young lives) that benefits society as a whole and the future of our children. Can we trust Mitt Romney to be a fair person? Only to the wealthy, only towards maximizing short term profits for a few at all costs.
0 # mjc 2012-09-05 08:54
Yes, even Saint Ronnie made mistakes but you'll never hear Republicans acknowledge what you posted.
+15 # wwway 2012-09-04 08:19
Tax avoidance is the endeavor of the rich man. That Romney's endeavors to pay as little as possible or no tax at all is no longer unacceptable to some middle class Americans who feel they should have the benefits of society without paying for them also.
Romney reminds me of the ungrateful spoiled rich kid and his middle class followers "wana bes" think they can really be like him if they vote for him. They are in for a shock! Romney wants to transfer the cost of society onto the poor and middle class. His ilk don't want competition and if they get the chance they'll finish the destruction of the working man that Bush started.
+10 # NAVYVET 2012-09-04 08:52
My feeling is that this whole "I won't reveal my taxes" thing is a sly Karl Rove scam! I think there's a good chance that at the last minute Der Mittuns will either disclose that there's no serious problem, or will inundate us with thousands of pages that can't possibly be analyzed before the election. Then, as usual, he can whine that his "enemies" exaggerate and lie.

WAIT before making it into a big deal--THEN, the last couple of days before the election slam the public with it. That's smart politics. Good people, decent people, can be conned, and Karl Rove is the master con artist of our era, the Goebbels of the 21st century.
+1 # mim 2012-09-05 01:57
I'm afraid that might happen.

And Karl Rove is the Goebbels of the 21st century so far. The century is still young.
+5 # adolbe 2012-09-04 10:46
This is how America will fall into a Greece debt type situation. When elites do not follow the law nobody else will. In Greece many work for the government but avoid taxes. Here, at least half the country directly works for government or is dependant on government but if PResident and wealthiest do not share the same obligations regular folks do there will be chaos. Noticable is when in 2008 Romney was asked what his five boys were doing for the country and he said to the effect that they were helping on his campaign. Recall in major WOrld Wars EVERYBODY incl. Roosevelts, Kennedys (WW2 anyway) and sharecroppers all enlisted immediately.
+2 # perkinsej 2012-09-04 11:03
I know it sounds counterintuitiv e, but I suspect that Romney has a better chance of raising taxes on the rich than Obama. The main reason to reelect Obama is the Supreme Courty appointments. Ed Perkins
+8 # natalierosen 2012-09-04 11:17
Perfect commentary by Stiglitz. If only Krugman and Stiglitz were at the president's side. It HAS gotten better than the sewer Bush left the president with BUT climbing up from the depths of depravity cannot be done in one administration and with a wholly obstructionist Republican House to boot.
Imagine what could have and would be done if the president had the support he needed and I do not mean blue dog Dems who are Republicans in sheep's clothing I mean REAL support along with the ditching of at LEAST three members of the right wing extremist court. Ah, I can only dream!
+1 # dkonstruction 2012-09-04 11:22
While i agree with much that Stiglitz (and like minded others such as Robert Reich) say about "fairness" and the need for "regulation" the fact that they never talk about production and its relationship to capitals "profitablility " reveals the serious limits of their thinking and is a real problem if we want to find a way out of the current crisis. For, if the cause of the current crisis is in fact the result of what Marx called the problem of the tendency of capital's rate of profit to fall (i.e., the cause of the current crisis was a problem of the profitablility of production) then more government spending (even on such needed things as education, rebuilding infrastructure, etc) will not restore the system's overall profitability. This might lead us to have to have further discussions about the need to "separate" out segments of the economy that should not be run/organized to make a profit and grow but rather based on other criteria (such as serving human needs or creating the economic and physical environment for the private sector to grow).

So, there are real political implications to ones analysis of the current crisis and discussions of how to get out of it and ignoring production (and its profitablility) which is what the capitalist economy (and profits) is ultimately based on is problemmatic at best.

on the relationship between capitals falling rate of profit and the current crisis see Andrew Kliman's "Failure of Capitalist Production"
-9 # mgrosent 2012-09-04 11:33
As a taxpa;yer, I use every provision of laws and regulation that permits me to lower my taxes. He/she who pays taxes unnecessarily is foolishly wasting money that could be [pur to much greater use. Money is too presicious a thing to waste because it can do so much good.
The problem is the tax law, the confusing tax regulations and mostly, the pureaucrats who perpetuate the foregoing.
+3 # pernsey 2012-09-04 14:13
Quoting mgrosent:
As a taxpa;yer, I use every provision of laws and regulation that permits me to lower my taxes. He/she who pays taxes unnecessarily is foolishly wasting money that could be [pur to much greater use. Money is too presicious a thing to waste because it can do so much good.
The problem is the tax law, the confusing tax regulations and mostly, the pureaucrats who perpetuate the foregoing.

Well I get your drift mgrosent, my questions to you are...if Mitt is doing things legally...then why wont he just release his taxes and put this to rest?

Every president releases several years (meaning more then a year and a halfs worth) of taxes, this exemption for Mitt just baffles me. If he has nothing to hide, then why doesnt he just release the taxes if hes all above board on everything?

Oh I just thought of another question for you...if Obama was not willing to submit all his tax returns you would all be screaming bloody murder. Oh and please dont bring up Obamas college records thats so irrelevant, he was a grade A student. Bush was the dummy that passed on his families donations to school. Why werent you screaming about that? Cuz it was a republican and you make excuses instead of holding them accountable...t hats why!
-7 # mgrosent 2012-09-04 18:57
Tax returns are confidential, shown only by court order, to authenticate a financial statement or if the filer finds some need to do so.
I'm much more interested in candidates' ideas and ideaologies than their finances. I expect that a full bore audit would find something wrong with my tax returns, and if you are a limosine liberal as you appear to me, with yours as well.
Remember, TR, FDR, JFK cane from wealthy families, and they did well for the cuntry. "It's no sin to be rich" (Tevya)
+1 # mim 2012-09-05 02:01
The quote is "I realize it's no shame to be poor, but it's no great honor either."
+2 # pernsey 2012-09-05 07:21
Quoting mgrosent:
Tax returns are confidential, shown only by court order, to authenticate a financial statement or if the filer finds some need to do so.
I'm much more interested in candidates' ideas and ideaologies than their finances. I expect that a full bore audit would find something wrong with my tax returns, and if you are a limosine liberal as you appear to me, with yours as well.
Remember, TR, FDR, JFK cane from wealthy families, and they did well for the cuntry. "It's no sin to be rich" (Tevya)

So if President Obama didnt show full disclosure of his tax returns, you wouldnt have any problem with that because its a confidential thing? Really? Mgro I suspect you would make any excuse possible for Mitt, but if the roles were reversed there would be no excuse. Thats my point...not whether someone is rich or poor. Im not the type of person that thinks because I got mine I will screw the rest of the world to keep it. Thats why what your saying doesnt wash with me. If I thought you would react the same if this happened to a democratic candidate, what you say might have some merit.

I suspect Mitt has something to hide, and if your running for president, its something people should know. Would you interview a key employee and hire him, if he wouldnt disclose all that was required of him? I sure wouldnt.
+4 # NAVYVET 2012-09-05 06:46
You are illogical. Of course we don't want to WASTE money. Yes, it can "do so much good"--but only if it's shared, and a progressive tax is the ONLY mechanism ever devised that can do so efficiently. I'm a historian, and perhaps you didn't know that during those centuries when the Roman emperors were partying, the BUREAUCRATS you sneer at were the only ones holding together the Empire! And that even in Roman and Medieval times, rulers recognized that taxes HAD TO BE PROGRESSIVE--or they would have a big revolt of the people to contend with, every kind of revolt from peaceful to violent. Most Medieval rebellions were because of unfair taxation. What I'd like to know is why Americans are so wimpy?
+2 # stonecutter 2012-09-04 13:37
The driving river of anger, contempt and frustration that runs through this comment stream could drive all the turbines needed to light and power the RNC this week. In the end, the seminal question remains: How do we get from here to "there", assuming "there" means the reincarnation of shared economic fairness, balance and justice in not only America but the entire developed global economy.

Do we have to live through a further devolution of compromise, fairness, common sense, consensus and rational policy positions before we wake up? Do we have to actually see an expanded version of the New Orleans Superdome during Katrina, this time brought about not by force majeure but by conscious economic cruelty, brutality or, worse, abject indifference to the suffering of our fellow citizens? How much more empty sophistry do we have to listen to on the media airwaves before we throw a heavy household object into the LED screen while we scream obscenities? Was that really what Clint was saying in his demented little psychodrama to the whole cabal of lawyers and politicians: "Shut Up! "Go F**k Yourself!"??

We'd better find our way back to some measure of rational, coherent public dialogue soon, where people begin to actually see and feel REAL progress on the galactic issues before us, or we're headed over the cliff into true Wiley Coyote territory, where We The People just keep dropping, dropping until there's that little thud and puff of dust way down "there".
+5 # fhunter 2012-09-04 16:14
This country is, indeed, blessed with having the two greatest economist of modern times, STIGLITZ and KRUGMAN. They can also explain complex issues with clarity and simplicity. I have never understood why President Obama never follows their advise instead of his self serving adviser's, and why the VOTERS want to follow the nonsensical Ryan economy, instead of the brilliant and proven ideas of Stiglits and Krugman?
+6 # James Smith 2012-09-04 16:49
I hope the Romney tax returns become as much an issue as OBama's birth certificate. Ironically, that debacle began with the Hilary CLinton campaign for the nomination. Even more ironically, it wasn't even a genuine issue. If one of your parents is an American citizen, so are you no matter where you were born.

Not paying your taxes though, is a real issue. So lets's keep pounding away at that until Mitt phonies up some fake returns.
+1 # mjc 2012-09-05 08:53
In spite of what the Teapublicans say and promote, it IS important for a candidate for a public office reveal his tax returns. But not revealing them, as Willard has done or revealing only one year with any completeness... 2010 isn't complete, isn't a matter of his being afraid of the American electorate knowing how wealthy he is, it is more sinister I believe. The tax returns could show his lack of concern with American society with a few years of no taxes paid...literall y, or financial dealings in returns from groups in Latin America which harbor death squads. Nothing of that nature as far as Romney is concerned would surprise me. IF he decides to fill in the rest of 2010, he may well avoid 2009 when there was a sort of amnesty given to get former slackers to pay up on their taxes. What DID Romney do? In any case, IF they are released, it will be a few days...maybe only one...before November 6, too late for a ground swell of resentment from the electorate.
+1 # Nell H 2012-09-05 13:34
The billionaires that are financing Romney (and Obama) will expect payback. They are literally buying a president.

501(c3) organizations should be abolished. Much of the mud-slinging by Super-PACs is done under this federally-appro ved method of avoiding taxes in the interest of education. Take it away. At the very least the federal government ought to be able to collect normal taxes on this money.

Some legitimate 501(c3) organizations will be hurt, but the loophole that allows money given to Super-PACs to be tax-exempt must be removed.
-2 # JGross001 2012-09-06 08:50
Well, the comments here are quite revealing. Romney does not want to release more tax returns, so he obviously must be a lying cheat? Seems to me that if he releases more tax returns, the dems will just go thru them with a fine-toothed comb, looking for some little talking point to blather about. Why do that? If the IRS is so incompetent as to let Romney cheat on his taxes, maybe we should fix the IRS. If Romney filed honest tax returns, and paid about 13 percent tax, is that unfair? If 50 percent of Americans pay no tax at all, is that unfair? If we took 90 percent from all of our rich people, would that solve our problems? Not even close, in fact, it would make our problems a lot worse. It is so easy to want to take from the few who have made it big, and it is politically popular, but that does not make it right, or helpful. That path does get votes, based on envy, but it solves nothing.
+1 # pernsey 2012-09-06 23:36
The whole point here JGross, is that if he just did what all presidential candidates do and show his returns for the last 7-10 years no one would be still talking about it. Your excuses for Romney are really sad, as I stated many times without any rational response, if Obama would have done this you would all be going nuts, there wouldnt be any excuse good enough for you. I can only assume your Fox News facts, are the only thing you got. They basically are nonsensical ramblings made to rationalize an irrational thing. Mitt needs to do what every presidential candidate does.

If I was hiring someone and they didnt show me what I asked for, I would not hire that person. Making these excuses doesnt cut... and saying the big bad dems will look closely at his what! Sorry that is just sad and just says a whole lot of nothing and doesnt answer the question, why Mitt wont submit his tax returns beyond a year and a half?

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