Mitt Romney Warns That Taxing Billionaires Will Force Them To Buy More Ranches, Paintings, Unicorns
Democrats are looking for ways to fund President Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda now that Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Sinema-Land opposes rolling back the huge Trump tax cuts for the wealthy that she voted against four years ago. It's hard to find a spare trillion these days, but Democrats think they can shake down the marginalized billionaire class.
Billionaires could be taxed on unrealized capital gains on their liquid assets, Democratic officials said yesterday. It would affect people with $1 billion in assets or those who have reported at least $100 million in income for three consecutive years, according to news reports. That would ensnare perhaps 700 taxpayers — or the wealthiest 0.0002 percent — but Democrats hope it would generate at least $200 billion in revenue over a decade.
It's unclear why the Times used the verb “ensnare," like Democrats are setting up bear traps for these poor billionaires. This seems like a solid plan, but there are no longer any billionaires on Wonkette's staff so what do we know? Let's consult with almost-billionaire Mitt Romney, who's forced to work past retirement age to provide car elevators for his family. The senator from Utah explained on Fox News yesterday why taxing billionaires is a terrible idea.
Senator Romney expresses concern that taxing billionaires could cause them to invest in paintings or ranches rather… https://t.co/ENFb23nG25— Acyn (@Acyn) 1635199898.0
ROMNEY: It's not a good idea to tell billionaires don't come to America, don't start your business here.
This is a common rhetorical dodge for rich people who want to dodge taxes. Their patriotism is apparently so transactional, they won't stay in the country if taxed at a level they're unlikely to feel in any real sense. Meanwhile, no Democrat seriously suggests that working people will flee the country and settle somewhere that actually provides universal child care, paid family leave, and affordable health care.
Romney claimed that higher taxes for billionaires would convince the “Steve Jobs and the Bill Gates and people like that" to go somewhere else. Jobs and Gates both started as normal mortals who made their fortune in America, thanks to the contributions and hard work from their fellow Americans. It's not too much to ask that billionaires not abandon their countrymen because they don't like a capital gains tax. (A capital gainsplainer, if you will, is here.)
Then Romney reminded us of simpler times when Democrats didn't run against fake populists like Donald Trump but unabashed cartoon plutocrats like Romney himself. Every time Mittens opened his gold-plated mouth in 2012, Barack Obama's polls numbers improved in the Rust Belt.
ROMNEY: You're going to tax people not when they sell something but just when they own it and the value goes up. And what that means is ... these multi-billionaires are going to look and say, “I don't want to invest in the stock market, because if that goes up, I'm gonna get taxed!" So maybe instead I'll invest in a ranch or paintings or things that don't build jobs.
How does Romney think ranches even work if he claims that “investing" in them wouldn't create jobs? You can't just let the place go all Grey Gardens. You have cattle to rustle and horses to groom.
Paintings probably do require less maintenance and upkeep, but I'm imagining a rich asshole dropping a million on a painting from some artist who died broke in a rat-infested apartment and hanging it in a room of a house they visit once a year, all the while thinking, "I'm so clever for avoiding that extra tax that might've funded child care."
That's what this is all about. Senator Joe Manchin wants to put an income cap of $60,000 on the child tax credit, which is arbitrary and would penalize families making $61,000 instead of $59,500. (It would also raise taxes on families making between $60,000 and $150,000, the current cap.) That's real life and real money, while billionaires would play games with paintings and ranches rather than help less fortunate people. Of course, when you're among the wealthiest 0.0002 percent, almost everyone's less fortunate.
Romney's spiel does make another compelling argument in favor of Elizabeth Warren's straightforward soak-the-rich tax. Thanks, Senator.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."