Robert Becker

Robert Becker
Location
California, United States
Birthday
January 01
Bio
Educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English) I left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92; from '92-02 I did marketing consulting & writing; from '02 until now, I scribble on politics and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows.

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Salon.com
AUGUST 12, 2012 6:58PM

Three Cheers for Mitt’s Yankee Tax Shrewdness

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By Robert S. Becker

  tax dodging

Disclosure: nothing here, defending the grievously-assaulted GOP entrant, reflects my father's 40 year CPA career. I did, however, inherit his prudent tax credo: declare all income (certainly with paper trails), deduct all that's defensible by logic or statute, and sign up the best tax wizards you can afford. Ask Mitt Romney, who's mastered the art of spending deductible CPA dollars on astonishing advice that saved him multi-millions -- all presumably legal and above board, as far as we know. Sure.

I put aside whether fewer, highly suspicious-looking tax gimmicks, plus many millions buried offshore, wouldn't have better served Mitt's thin presidential resume. Let that bide: no one's perfect and capital outlasts capitulation. In the meantime, let's not throw the GOP primary-winning, babe-in-arms out with the tax water, as Harry Reid's roguishly "give "em hell" stunt attempts to do. There's only custom and precedent, not law requiring anyone, rich or poor, to release tax returns, though naturally the more you have, the less you want to broadcast. So, Mittens is rich and clever: get over it, losers.

Is Mitt not simply honoring our national legacy of shrewd thriftiness, along with fierce resistance to centralized authority? That value-system arrived with our Pilgrim Parents, reinforced by our most frugal spendthrift-Founding Father, Ben Franklin. To update (for inflation) that unquenchable Yankee credo: a hard-earned dollar saved (read: tax write-off) doubles down any dollar earned (and taxable). Mitt did the numbers.

Doubling down tax winners 

First, the owner invests (or spends) whatever escapes the tax man, no doubt delivering countless job-creating enterprises. Second, that infamous bugaboo the right calls "government" will only squander extra revenue on work-averse wastrels, like tossing dollars down the toilet. If civilians committed that federal crime (ruining money), we'd not only have wet and grimy greenbacks in unreachable piping, but a huge plumbing bill and screaming kids wanting to flush.

No doubt, the rabid right favors burning bucks rather than accept Washington badgering -- except to dutifully take charitable deductions. Church write-offs are heavenly-blessed because the faithful lower their taxes (while raising God) while indirectly forcing the stingy and selfish to offset lost IRS income. Plus, church donations beat handing out freebees to sneaky, welfare tax chiselers. Those on fraudulent welfare never equate taking dirty money with robbery, though defying our inviolate Protestant Ethic and putting the "welfare" of souls at risk. 

That explains why good-hearted Tea Partiers, forever fretting about the salvation of strangers, are forced to flout Jesus' compassionate teachings. Our crooked times mandate tax resistance, not only to drown government but with a most cost-effective, self-serving scheme for the higher good. Kill those insatiable Satanic forces. Substitute hard work, not sponging; blind faith, not sinful sloth; salvation via loopholes -- that's the straight and narrow path for the narrowly straight among us. Hallelujah.   

Root agreement: taxes suck 

In this light, Romney is truer (than bleeding-heart liberals) to the double bedrocks of American exceptionalism: self-interest rules, especially facing off against the onerous system (God helps those who help themselves). Second, God sent pilgrims to America because Europe had terrible tax systems and loopholes reserved only for aristocrats. All else pales next to these great secular Yankee commandments. Why should those blessed with wily tax advisers not exploit God's gifts? How else will good souls marry sacred hard work with fat, sanctified inherited estates? 

Defense of Mitt's Yankee tax shrewdness spurs me to scold Sen. Harry Reid for claiming that a quarter-billionaire managed no federal income tax for years on end. Though the shrewdest of unanswerable dirty tricks, Reid tosses off, as if true, back fence Bain chitchat. Imagine the political damage if majority leaders impede our highest, treasure-laden achievers from public service? Just campaigning sacrifices time they could be avoiding taxes, a big deal for government-haters. Shouldn't we hail, instead of assail patriotic "job-creators" who will (for a commission) share miraculous employment arts for the public good? Mirabile dictu 

Could that be Reid's hidden agenda, beyond pushing rich folks to disclose backroom conniving? Is this not a war against job miracles akin to the alleged Democratic "war against religion?" What if Mitt's tax-dodging Bain mission fudged here and there, thus inexplicably accumulating a $100 million family IRA in a decade, despite a $30K IRS annual limit? Let see, that'd be 3300 years of contributions, but who's counting? Look, paying low or no taxes is an unimpeachable Republican positive, proving fiscal probity if not tightfisted vigilance.  Where’s the war at tax dodging?

Hey, peasant, tax suckers: think amassing obscene family "welfare" is just child's play? Think unaudited "tax cleanliness" isn't next to godliness, especially for prudent Mormons? Why wouldn't we elevate our biggest winners where they can remake key laws and, like Duyba's great tax cuts, redo the keys to the kingdom?  Oh, we don't have a king anymore?

Romney = Rmoney, Q.E.D.  

Follow the program, bottom dwellers. Are not ingenious ruffians who escape penalties (despite breaking the rules) top guides for systematic reform? Top hackers serve the FBI and ex-drug pushers work for Narcs, so why not crown our greatest politician tax dodger with the White House? Okay, bureaucratic pettifoggers will argue great tax-dodgers may not be great government redeemers, thus killing services, wiping out millions, stalling recovery or imperiling security. Happily, Romney is not affected by sentiment or unintended consequences: for this business wiz, money is money and math rules. Replace the failed pragmatist in charge now for one expert in the essential task, ruthless pragmatism -- and our heads will swim before we drown.

Everyone knows Romney's genius slashed his private liabilities (tax rate below 14%, $22 million income). Why not the fed's? Thanks to Reid's incendiary teases, we're not arguing concept, only how much was unpaid over what number of non-years. If lawmakers, dependent on rich donors, deem capital gain (or loopholes) infinitely more valuable to the public good than just regular pay, why not go along to get along? Refusal topples officials from power -- and that's even worse than paying taxes, incurring deficits, or buying off welfare chiselers. 

Want worse, bring on clowns

Ultimately, what matters isn't whether Romney's a hero to fellow tax avoiders -- or a goat for stiffing the feds, let alone wrecking his own campaign messaging. Want to like Romney more? Imagine the alternatives. Do you favor Romney gaffing away overseas, with considerable laughs -- or that woeful troop of primary clowns speaking for America? Cringe-worthy, indeed: the hirsute Trumpster, the Cain (sex mutiny), Bachmann the bizarro, Perry the mental pipsqueak, Sanctorum the sanctimonious, or Gingrich the smuggest, haughtiest hustler on the political sidelines. Even Paul Ryan shows better. 

 That three-ring circus comedy would have put SNL to shame: imagine Perry traipsing around Europe boasting "foreign affairs" credibility? Put Santorum in hawkish Israel -- and off goes the first missile towards Iran. Hello, cosmic Apocalypse: ready, set, FIRE away. Before writing off Romney as loser, count your blessings: all the "average voter" let pass facilitated a score of plutocratic marvels, thanks to financial deregulation, friendly corporate raiding rules, then infinite ways for tycoons to save taxes, thus preserving capital. 

Okay, the rest of us had to cover what the rich escaped paying for our multiplicity of extravagantly over-priced, ongoing military misadventures. Could be worse. Were McCain in charge, we'd be in Iran having a desert shootout at double the costs and casualties.

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