Romney's tax rate

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

January 17, 2012 1:01:00 PM PST
Well now we know why Mitt Romney has been hesitant to release his income tax returns. Today the frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination - when asked for the umpteenth time about releasing his returns, including at last night's debate in South Carolina - acknowledged that his annual federal income tax rate is about 15 percent.

That means that most of his income is unearned; it doesn't come from wages but from dividends and long-term capital gains. Mr. Romney's net worth is estimated in the $200 million range - which means he's not among the super-wealthy, but he's doing just fine, thank-you-very-much.

And it is people like Romney about whom America's ultimate investor guru, Warren Buffett, was referring to when he blasted the current tax code as unfair. It's not right, Buffett said, that wealthy men like him (he's worth tens of billions - far richer than Romney) pay 15 percent federal income tax rates, while his secretary pays nearly double that for her solidly middle-class annual wages.

It also means that the man running for President is wealthier than 99.9 percent of Americans, and he's paying a fraction of their income tax rates.

Equity and fairness of wealth distribution is a huge and growing issue among Americans, and it will be interesting to see the reaction to Mr. Romney's disclosure.

We'll have the latest from the campaign trail, tonight at 11.

Speaking of campaign trails - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both making public pronouncements today. Both are widely thought of as future potential presidential candidates. And each today sounding the kind of get-tough clarion call that they want to be known for.

Mr. Christie is proposing an across-the-board 10 percent income tax cut for every New Jersey taxpayer.

Mr. Cuomo is proposing getting tough with education - putting teacher performance and student achievement front-and-center.

Both are controversial - both will be met with resistance - and both will propel each Governor to the front of nation's emotional debate over how to make things better.

We'll have the latest on each proposal tonight at 11.

Also at 11, an Eyewitness News exclusive - a interview inside Rikers Island with the man sentenced to up to 32 years for raping then framing his ex-girlfriend. The twist here is that the man from Queens was a confidential police source - paid, and used by cops and prosecutors to testify against others who have been put behind bars.

All of which raises the important question involving Jerry Ramrattan- if he lied about framing his ex-girlfriend, what does that say about his credibility in all the other cases where he was used to put people away? And will those cases be reopened? Our investigative reporter Sarah Wallace has a disturbing and remarkable story tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.


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