Breaking News: Romney Is Poor! (At Least According to the IRS)

01/18/2012 02:15 pm ET | Updated Mar 19, 2012

Did you know that Mitt Romney is poor? Well, he is at least from the point of view of the IRS. Romney guesses his rate is "probably closer to the 15 per cent rate than anything else." Well, the poorest income earners, those who make between $8,000 and $34,000 annually, are the only other people in the 15 per cent tax bracket. That's right; only people at or near the poverty line get a tax rate like Romney's. So what's a high flying one-percenter doing paying bargain-basement taxes?

Romney makes so much money that he thinks the $374,000 he makes annually for giving speeches is "not very much." Let's see -- every time Romney bloviates for half an hour he gets $40,000 per speech. That's the top end of what the poorer citizens paying the 15 per cent taxes make in a year.

We can and should be outraged about Romney, but we should be angrier at a system that allows those at the very top to pay very little to the government. Years of lobbying on behalf of "job creators" have affected tax policy profoundly.

Let's get this straight: if you, like most Americans, make your money by working from 9 to 5 and getting a paycheck you'll be charged at a much higher rate than if your money comes from investments, rents, and royalties. If you work by the sweat of your brow, you'll pay top taxes. But f you kick back and watch your stock portfolio perform, you'll pay poverty-level taxes. Make sense?

It's a sad state of affairs that most citizens are so bamboozled that they don't even know what capital gains taxes are. Worse is that many are duped into believing the Republican refrain that capital gains taxes are "too damn high" and should be lowered further. Further? So they can pay rates below poverty level?

But it's even sadder that the top one percent are so used to being rich and getting preferential treatment on taxes that someone like Romney can be so blasé. Forget the politics of envy -- what about the politics of shame?