David Simon, journalist and creator of "The Wire" and "Treme" took to his blog Thursday to denounce Mitt Romney's recent admission that he "never paid less than 13 percent" of his income in taxes.
"Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man," Simon's post begins, "who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit."
Simon also described Romney's position as "stunning" and a sign that "the republic is just about over."
The Republican candidate for president has been in a months-long battle over his tax returns. Romney's refusal to release his tax record has invigorated critics like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who (D-Nev.) told The Huffington Post that a well-placed source claims Romney "didn't pay any taxes for 10 years."
Romney has denounced that claim and has repeatedly said the country has more pressing issues than his personal finances. Here's the quote Simon was responding to, from a pool report:
I just have to say, given the challenges that America faces – 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty – the fascination with taxes I’ve paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face. But I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.
Simon, who said he last paid a 13 percent tax rate either when he was still in college or in the early years of his journalism career, expressed his incredulity at the "absurdity of this moment": "Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?"
The criticism comes in a brutal PR week for the Romney-Paul Ryan ticket. The Silversun Pickups sent Romney a cease-and-desist letter when they learned the campaign had played one of their songs at an event. The Romney campaign responded by saying its use of "Panic Switch" was permitted under a blanket licensing agreement, but promised not to play the song -- which was not one of its usual selections -- again.
On Thursday, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine went after Paul Ryan in an extremely strongly worded op-ed in Rolling Stone. Ryan had cited the band as his favorite, but Morello said the congressman represented "the embodiment the machine our music rages against."
Head over to Simon's blog for his full reaction, including why he's perfectly happy paying higher taxes.