Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Birthday
January 01
Title
Consultant/Writer
Bio
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at minor7th.com.

Editor’s Pick
JULY 26, 2012 8:27AM

Mitt Romney’s $100M IRA: Gaming the System at Bain

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romney

Mitt Romney will pimp your portfolio.  Well, not yours but...

Image: msnbc.com 

I might have titled this piece “How to Build a $100 Million Dollar IRA, Just Like Mitt Romney” but it would have been an unfair tease.  The problem is, even if you know how to do it, you need to run a firm like Bain Capital to pull it off. If you work for Bain Capital, that’ll do.  But you have to have a boss with a very particular mindset, a boss like Mitt Romney.

            The way you do it is astonishingly arcane.  You rip the fiscal guts out of a company you’ve acquired and refashion them just so.  You split the shares into two classes, type A shares and others we'll call type B.  Type A shares are riskier, but if the acquired company turns around, their value grows exponentially.  The other shares, Type B, are more like standard shares that you would see on the market.  They go in your regular portfolio.

    You value the shares at very low levels, arbitrarily low levels, because there is no oversight or regulation to which you need to adhere other than ineffectual IRS guidelines that the IRS does not enforce.  Then you award yourself and your colleagues these shares as compensation.  Or, you sell them to your colleagues.  These shares, with their artificially low initial values, will do amazing things for you if you succeed in turning the firm around.

            When the owner and employees of a takeover firm like Bain work on a project they might receive part of their compensation in the two varieties of shares. Or they may co-invest in the acquisition.  Type A shares, with their potential for extreme growth, go into tax-deferred retirement accounts, where all that growth grows untaxed until retirement.  In this manner, all of the income restrictions on how much can be contributed annually to an SEP-IRA are circumvented and the owners of these accounts can build a lifetime of retirement savings in just a few short, lucky, years.

            What we are talking about here is the very meaning of the words unfair advantage.

            The Wall Street Journal, much to its credit, did the initial digging into how Mitt built his $100 million retirement account in a story that appeared in March. It should be noted that the true value of Mitt’s SEP-IRA is unknown because he refuses to share the details—“Let them eat cake,” as his lovely wife Ann was paraphrased on the topic of open access. Ironically, this disclosure is a practice initiated by Mitt’s father George during his own run for the Big Office. In fact, the value of Mitt’s IRA could be as low as $20 million, which I imagine will make you feel a lot better, because a 401k or IRA valued at that level might make you feel like Mitt’s unfair advantage is a little less, well, unfair, right?

            Anyway, back to the Wall Street Journal article, “Bain Gave Staff Way to Swell IRAs by Investing in Deals,” by Mark Maremont.  It is a gem, recommended reading to be sure.  A short excerpt goes a long way toward explaining how the deals work:

Bain in the Romney era had what's known as a SEP-IRA—a plan somewhat akin to a 401(k) but involving only employer contributions—which had contribution limits before 2001 of $30,000 a year. Putting in low-price A shares, said former employees, gave them a shot at building substantial tax-deferred accounts despite the contribution limits.

A deal for Sealy Corp. shows how this could work if all went well. Bain led a group that took over the mattress maker in 1997. One junior Bain employee invested about $30,000 in Sealy, documents reviewed by the Journal show, putting a few thousand dollars of IRA money into the risky, low-price A shares. Ninety percent of the employee's investment went into the safer shares, which were placed in a taxable account.

In 2004, after Sealy's value had been sharply raised by Bain and its partners, they sold most of Sealy for a large gain. The employee's approximately $30,000 investment grew to about $160,000.

To put this in context, this Bain employee was able to amass an amount--$160,000—that is approximately three times what the average American has in their entire IRA or 401k through the rapid growth of an initial investment of $30,000 of what the company said was junk stock.  And that’s an important point.  Because only Bain knows the parameters of the deal, it’s chances for success and the potential upsides involved. Let’s say it plainly: the classification and pricing of shares is purely arbitrary.  Their potential for rapid growth is directly based on the degree to which they can be undervalued at the outset.  This is what I mean by gaming the system.

And it is by gaming the system in this manner that Mitt was able to build his $100 million nest egg.  If he had undervalued one class of shares and then stuck them in his Cayman island or Swiss bank account that could work, too, but that might raise the specter of tax evasion, which is a crime.  Mitt is too smart for that. He is a tax avoider, not a tax evader, as far as we know, because of course he won’t disclose his offshore holdings, and presumably he had his Swiss bank accounts vacated when the federal government cracked down on tax evasion via Swiss accounts.

Mitt was so clever that his plan verged on, well, actually, well beyond, overkill. No one really wants to have $100 million in an IRA, because it will be taxed at the level of income when the money is withdrawn and it is taxed at a brutally high rate if it goes into one’s estate.  However, if the plan was to fund one’s religious tithing with those tax-deferred dollars; that would be a really cheap way to fund the tithe with tax-privileged, false cost basis, taxpayer-subsidized dollars. And that is a hard-core benefit no matter how you cut it.  It is almost as if the government is covering the bill.

And this scenario is in no way mere serendipity.  Tax planners talk with wealthy donors all the time about the benefits of using a tax-deferred retirement account to fund charitable giving.  But most high rollers don’t get to fund their plans with the stock market equivalent of funny money; they have to use real dollars.

            Is this the ethos of government service that you want to see in your president?  Is this “Ask not what your country…?”  No, let me answer. It is not. This is, “How can I game the system to extract the last drop of income out of the tax code and make that tax structure work for me in ways that the other 99.99 of my fellow Americans cannot?”

            Some would argue that you want a guy this smart running the country.  I would beg to differ.  First of all, Bain’s accounting department or one of its consultants came up with the original scheme, not Romney himself. Second, a genius for tax avoidance is not the same genius it takes to actually run a company or a country.  I would rather have a gifted legal mind driving the bus, rather than a flat-out schemer.  No, I take that back. I would take a little of the schemer if it could be the Lyndon Johnson variety, someone who can twist an arm to get a law passed.  Romney, stiff as a shirt-board, couldn’t glad-handle his way out of a paper bag.  Not to say President Obama is a whole lot better, though he sure can sing better, and that counts for something on Congressional Karaoke night.

            If I had been a minion at the table back at Bain Capital, I would have posed the question:  Is it possible to put too much money into a SEP-IRA or 401k? I mean, shouldn’t we go for a tax-deferred retirement account that hits the top .0001 percent, say, $4 million, and call it a day?

            At some point all these machinations just begin to look like connivance.  And in that respect you can call Mitt a bit of an overachiever. In a way, it’s just stupid to have a $100 million IRA.  As to the tithing, charitable gifts are laudable, but Mitt gamed the system in such a way that the lost revenue to the government was more than substantial, and in a manner that is entirely unavailable to the rest of us.  So, being as charitable to Mitt as circumstances allow, it’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ gain, U.S. Treasury Department’s loss.  I would prefer as president a guy who would bust a nut working for the welfare of all Americans, not just some at the expense of others. What he did doesn’t have to be illegal for me to think of him as a tax cheat.

 

UPDATE August 1:  Here's what the New York Times had to say about Romney's IRA:

"Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A."

from "Mitt Romney's Financial Mysteries", by Michael J. Graetz, July 30, 2012 


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You decided to write the piece afterall. Cool!
I also too believe this is what happened:

"He is a tax avoider, not a tax evader, as far as we know, because of course he won’t disclose his offshore holdings, and presumably he had his Swiss bank accounts vacated when the federal government cracked down on tax evasion via Swiss accounts."
Kanuk, I did, but it was thanks to you turning me on to that Edward Kleinbard CNN op-ed piece from July 18th, "Why Won't Romney Release More Tax Returns?"
I could have used some better advice apparently, as I foolishly allowed my SEP-IRA to grow to the $100 million mark by not wasting money on accountants. Now I'm stuck.
I guess I don't see where the outrage is. Yes, Mitt made a lot of money, and some of his employees made a lot at Bain too.

But if they earned this wealth legitimately, that is, without violating the rights of person or property of somebody else, then I don't care. Good for them.

Also, I don't see anything wrong with being a "tax avoider."
Steve, after reading this piece I'm convinced you write it because it's you job. You are not dumb enough to believe what you write.

You talk about "If he had" which means he didn't. Could have but didn't. You also talk about what an employee did not what Romney did. Who cares what a junior employee did?

Maybe you are just upset because you didn't have the cojones to do what is required to get the education and job experience to be able to get into the position to do what Romney had done. That could be it. You were not willing to work the long hours everyday and put your family off until you got into his position. Is that it?

So what is your proof that he did anything that is illegal? He did the same stuff that Buffett did and I'll bet that Warren's IRA is bigger. Where is your outrage over? Buffett is #3 on the Forbes list of BILLIONAIRES who avoids taxes by collecting dividends and not a paycheck?
so romney is good at what he does. if this bothers you, you might like to ask, 'why does he have this opportunity?' this is a systemic flaw, or 'why is he so much smarter than me?' which is a personal flaw.

he has this opportunity, because the laws and culture of america permit it. if you don't like the result, change the system.
Also, I don't see anything wrong with being a "tax avoider."

You don’t run to become president and complain about the federal debt and deficits when you’re being part of the problem (by avoiding paying taxes via dubious methods). Do you really think someone who used loopholes and quasi-legal accounting practices will be inclined to cut them if he were in power?
Great piece. So I can console myself that as my local public school district is laying off teachers right and left, my children's one and only shot at high school will be in classrooms of 40 and more, Mitt and his ilk got his. Bully for them.

As the country slowly goes bankrupt, as our teachers go abroad for better pay, cities, counties, and states go into receivership, I'll just smile for Mitt and think, "Wow, what a great guy! I wish I was that smart."

I wonder where Mitt will be living when his local fire department can't afford trucks. And they can't hire new firefighters because no one can afford community college for a fire science degree. But I guess everyone should just get "as much education as they can afford."
Catnlion

It's not about what's legal, it's about what's moral. I'd bet everything Romney did with his money is 100% legal. However, Romney's taxes are a blatant example of all that it wrong with the US tax system. Yet he has no plans to improve it. He'll cut health care for the poor and disabled before he'll ask someone with an income of $20 million to pay the same rate as someone with an income of $200K, instead of the rate of someone barely above the federal poverty rate.
Steve - 160K is not 3 times my 401K/IRAs. It is a fraction. I guess I am evil sa well. Get over it. Go earn as much money as Romney. Then if you care to not evade tax or gov to charity or whatever that is your choice. Until you have that wealth you are just a complainer.
Malusinka

If it's about what you think is moral them I guess I'll soon see you take a big hit at Warren Buffett soon. A billionaire vs a millionaire.
Steve, I am afraid I didn't get your point again. There's obviously something wrong with my understanding of your highly sophisticated way of presenting the material. But I don't get what is the point you're making? Is it that Romney, being as shrewd as he is, made a lot of money and took a good care of his employees at the same time bringing a lot of failing businesses back to prosperity? Is it that he did something unlawful and wasn't caught? Or, as Malusinka suggested, he was, still is and, what is even worse, is going to be such a horrible unfair person that would ".. cut health care for the poor and disabled before he'll ask someone with an income of $20 million to pay the same rate as someone with an income of $200K, instead of the rate of someone barely above the federal poverty rate."? It's like she didn't know that this horrible 1% pays more than 80% of all income taxes in the country? BTW, where did she get the information that Romney is going to cut health care for the poor? I believe it is Obamacare that's cutting the Medicare by 500 billion dollars?

But, going back to your post, Steve. If I'm not mistaken, last year Obama paid something like 20% in taxes, less than his secretary who paid 30% on much smaller income. Why is that? And I don't remember reading about Obama taken such a good care of his employees (sorry, you're right, he never had any employees). And for many years he, I mean our President Obama, was giving less than 1% to charities (with the income of more than $250.000 on average). At the same time, Romney was giving more than 14% to charity. That's more than most of the rich people are giving.

But, again, what was your point? Please, help me here! I really would suffering here.
P.S. Sorry for a last sentence: I meant - I AM SUFFERING!!
"Secret Swiss bank accounts are people too, myf friend!" Romney might have said, "And so are offshore tax havens in the Cayman Islands. Those people's rights are more important than any rights you losers claim to have!"
"Until you have wealth you are just a complainer, " Joseph Cole says. That sums up the Romney/Ayn Rand view succinctly. I guess I just wasn't "hard-working" enough to stash $101 million in my 401K while serivng people, not profits or to set up my own Swiss bank accounts with all my excess wealth acquired by buying and looting corporations. Stupid me! [r]
Donegal - No one said you didn't work hard enough. And for the record, while I have earned more the the average person my money is a drop in an ocean compared to Romney and even less compared to billionaires. I simply am not angry at them. Why are you?

Steve - I see no response to Inga's point that Obama's tax margin is less than someone that works for him. Is he wrong?

Or it that that whole "the rich guy pas less taxes than his secretary" just liberal spin to influence people that do not understand the concept of tax dollars paid vs tax margin?
I don't begrudge anyone for their financial wealth. I don't believe this fits the bill for what I want to see in the president of this country. This is a self serving mind. Avoiding taxes is not the mark of a leader. Neither is prep school bullying. Mitt can display some courage and proudly show the country his tax returns for the past few years and show us what he's really made of.
Avoiding taxes is not the mark of a leader but appointing a Sec. of the Treasury that avoids taxes is. Good logic?
Romney is clearly hiding something, otherwise there would be no reason to keep his prior returns hidden from the public. I'm sure those prior returns were prepared during a time when the probability of him becoming President was remote.
Ouch! The detractors have arrived. Some did not read the Wall Street Journal article referenced in the article and therefore conclude I make up my own facts.

Some figure that criticizing a conservative political candidate for abusing the rules on valuation of assets going into a SEP-IRA based on the unfair advantage of fictive assessments of the value of an acquired company, (and then inviting staff to "invest" in on the deal) in order to realize unreal advantages due to said abuse of the tax code, is just sour grapes. It isn't.

Some do not understand that employees who are paid in good old American dollars are subject to contribution limits on the amount of money they can place in their 401ks, IRAs, 403bs, or SEP-IRAs. This limitation, skirted by Romney, prevents American workers from ever saving exorbitant amounts of money in tax-deferred retirement vehicles. But not Mitt Romney.

Some do not understand that the article is about abuse of tax-deferred retirement accounts, not the marginal tax rates paid by those who receive significant income from investments as opposed to labor. Such passive income is privileged by the tax code, based on a series of Republican tax cuts to the wealthy. This means that wealthy people who receive a significant amount of annual revenue from securities pay an overall lower marginal tax rate than those who work for a paycheck. Having said that, write your own blog if you want to talk about issues of your own, personal concern.

Some claim Romney didn't do it. But there is no way to amass even $20 million in a SEP-IRA when the limits on a SEP-IRA funded by cash is just up to 25% of each employee’s compensation for a maximum amount of $49,000 in 2011.

Some don't understand that the use of a SEP-IRA is reserved for small businesses, not Bain Capital, and even if the IRS won't act on the abuse, it remains a loophole that should be closed.

Some don't get that a significant portion of this piece is my calling into question Mitt Romney's ethics in his use of extremely aggressive strategies to avoid taxes, strategies that are only available through little-known loopholes to maybe a couple hundred thousand people in the U.S.

Some apparently did not read the article before commenting. That cannot be helped.

And some, apparently, could care less about what the topic is, they just want to rant about their deeply held ideology. Again, that can't be helped either.
I love the way you put things together, Steve. This kind of thing has got to be the guts of the Obama Bain attack on Romney -- stick to specifics, educate the public about how the system works as best you can, and don't let conservatives get away with changing the subject through vague abstractions that turn things into a morality tale about "punishing success."

The ugly details of today's finance capitalism are what will sink it in the end, along with the political party trying to protect it. You can't do the things Romney did unless there are very few regulations and lots of liquidity, which is why the hysterical attacks on government and government spending (except on defense, which has mostly been privitized anyway) and all this talk about "uncertainty" that leads to a squeeze on credit and the money supply.

This, by the way, is what I think Richard Cohen was getting at in his Post column the other day suggesting Romney might be refusing to release his tax returns not so much for what it says about him but what it says about Wall Street and the gaming of a system whose corruptions laissez faire conservatives are now scrambling to sweep under the rug with brooms called "freedom" or "the free market" or "entrepreneurialism" aka Arthur Brooks.
@Catnlion & Inga

I'm not arguing that Romney did anything illegal and I don't expect him to volunteer to pay more taxes than he is legally required to pay. I certainly do everything I can to avoid taxes I can avoid.

However, the issue is Romney's tax policy. While he talks about closing loopholes, he hasn't identified a single deduction, exemption or credit he'd eliminate. He has stated he will make the Bush tax cuts permanent. He's said nothing about the unfairness of a tax code that allows him to pay under 15% tax on his income, when the top rate is 35%.

Romney has supported the Ryan plan which, explicitly cuts Medicaid. If you look at actual Medicaid spending, you discover that healthy adults make a small fraction of the costs. You can't get the cuts Ryan proposes without cutting pregnant women and children. That's where I got the idea that Romney is going to cut health care for the poor. Maybe Romney's changed his mind, but the fact that he supported the Ryan plan suggests that either he was fine with cutting health care for the poor, or he didn't know what the heck was in the plan he endorsed.

And FWIW, I'm a member of the 1%, but that doesn't blind me to basic fairness. Mitt Romney paid less tax on an income of $20 million dollars than someone who made $17,400 owes. He made 1,000 times more money, but he pays a lower rate? On what planet is that fair?
What a great discussion this is. Thanks, Steve, for simplifying something that is, for most people, including me, very complex.

Catnlion, you are so funny. As if Romney's position is solely due to cojones, education, experience and hard work. What a joke.
Excellent explanation of why mitten got to put far more in his SEP-IRA than my hubs and I can put in his because of the limits that apply to us and not Bain (according to mitt, not the IRS) .
Any contention that a person has had an unfair advantage would seem to require the proof that you, or I, or anyone else could not have accomplished what he did. No such proof seems provided in your post. Instead, what I see here is a guy who considers himself smart enough to criticize what he believes Mitt did without the apparent ability to replicate what Mitt did.

I may be assuming something untrue here, however. Perhaps you’re hiding your own riches from us, Steve.

If you are, then you have my congratulations! There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy -- absolutely nothing. Consequently, I won’t be calling for you to disclose 12 years of your tax returns.

You do seem informed enough to understand what Romney did was entirely legal, yet you spit on it as if it weren’t. Envy is never becoming, Steve. However, perhaps you, like our president, see some value in fomenting class warfare.

With respect to your one allusion to what you believe, but fail to prove, Romney did illegally, it’s difficult for me to swallow that the IRS overlooked large blocks of grossly undervalued stock issues. My best earning years corresponded to Romney’s. However, I only earned about 2.5% what he did during those years. In addition, Romney probably has over 80 times in the bank what I do.

Yet, I was audited four times by the IRS. My experience with these audits is that they didn’t overlook much, if anything, and that whatever might have been in a ‘gray’ area, was always (initially) ruled in their favor. It’s far easier for me to believe that the IRS, and many other national regulatory agencies, looked at Bain’s issuance of stocks and thought little was wrong.

Of course, you have Madoff and Peregrine to offer as counter-arguments to my claims of regulatory competence. However, my point is that neither set of anecdotes qualifies as proof.

Now, Steve, in all likelihood, when you die, you will own some stocks. Chances are that no matter how reduced the price at which you bought them, your beneficiaries will inherit them without having to pay either capital gains, or estate taxes, on any increase in the value of these assets as determined at the time we lose you.

Shall I write a post now criticizing how you ‘gamed’ the tax system?
Anyone who invested in Class A Berkshire when it was below $500 a share and then watched it go up to nearly $150,000 a share could have a similarly inflated IRA. While it might seem extraordinary, it can be done, whether by luck or skill. Talk to some of Warren Buffett's friends who were among his initial investors. Whether or not the criticisms of Bain and Mitt Romney's involvement in it are correct or fair, I'm generally concerned that we're starting to apply fiscal litmus tests to presidential candidates which might be inappropriately exclusionary.
Kathy, I think how one handles one's own money and the money of one's company is material.

Here are two more quotes from the WSJ article that fully support my contention here and that differentiate what Romney did from the case of Berkshire Hathaway.

1. "In one particularly successful deal, Bain increased the equity value of a company it had acquired by 36-fold in 20 months. But some Bain employees saw a 583-fold increase over the same period on IRA money they invested in the special share class of that company. Being in an IRA, the gain could then be rolled over, without initially subtracting taxes, into fresh Bain deals, for years of compounding."

2. "Even if the companies had only one share class, Bain frequently gave them two classes, usually called Class L and Class A, according to former employees, Bain internal documents and securities filings. Because Bain controlled the companies, it had flexibility in assigning values to the classes."

That's right. A " 583-fold increase" over 20 months. That doesn't pass the smell test. Remember, we are talking about the law of 401ks and IRAs here. The flexibility in assigning values to the classes is like you being able to decide the value of the dollars you put in your plan. And by underassigning value of the shares, you juice the results at the same time you bypass the contribution limits on SEO-IRAs.

Warren Buffet did not have the ability to arbitrarily value BH shares. And as far as we know, he never used this extremely rare form of IRA juicing for himself or his staff.

People who made those amazing returns held them in taxable accounts.
I understand everything but your last statement, Steve, and wonder if you'd clarify it.
Kathy, I was referring to the people who made those fantastic returns on Berkshire Hathaway. They generally hold those shares in taxable accounts as opposed to IRAs.
Steve

"They generally hold those shares in taxable accounts as opposed to IRAs."

Statement of fact or feelings? If it's a fact would you please site your source? We do know that Buffett earns most of his money from dividends so that is how he got the lower tax rate.

Why have I never seen you write about Buffett's wealth and his gaming the system?
@ Catnlion,

Steve is not interested (at least, at the present time) to write about Buffett who’s fighting IRS for unpaid taxes. A lot of unpaid taxes. Just wait when Buffett changes his position in regard to Obama, or says something unfavorable about the man. Than and only than we’ll see a lot of things “discovered” about Buffett from such educated and principled people like our friend Steve.
Uncle Chri: There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy -- absolutely nothing. Consequently, I won’t be calling for you to disclose 12 years of your tax returns.

Kathy Riordan: I'm generally concerned that we're starting to apply fiscal litmus tests to presidential candidates which might be inappropriately exclusionary.

The idea that criticisms of Romney include a belief that there's something wrong with being rich and should be exclusionary from the presidency is sheer fantasy aimed at distracting from the real issues which are 1) the predatory class and their bought and paid for stooges and minions have for at least 30 years been free to make the rules and mold the law to serve themselves; and 2) fiscal openness, honesty and transparency from those who would purport to "serve" the nation as president is essential, particularly in light of #1). (Note: #2) does not include Warren Buffet.)

Beautiful job, Steve.
Nerd,

Regarding your first point, just what proof are you going to offer that either Bain or Romney was predatory? Is it proof from:

• AMC Entertainment,
• Aspen Education Group,
• Brookstone,
• Burger King,
• Burlington Coat Factory,
• Clear Channel Communications,
• Domino's Pizza,
• DoubleClick,
• Dunkin' Donuts,
• D&M Holdings,
• Guitar Center,
• Hospital Corporation of America (HCA),
• Sealy,
• The Sports Authority,
• Staples,
• Toys "R" Us,
• Warner Music Group,
• The Weather Channel,
• or a company that ‘failed’ with Bain?

I suspect that these companies, as well as the ones that no longer exist, were, at one time, all grateful for Bain’s intervention and support. Without help from Bain, most of the listed companies would not have become what they are today; and the others might not have provided employment and survived as long as they did. In addition, those that ‘failed’ may not have recouped for their stock and bond holders what they otherwise did.

You seem willing to join Steve’s team that seems eager to tear down business investors who are fundamental to economic success. Yet, it is unlikely that either one of you could find a case where Bain wasn’t invited to assist. After all, Bain began as a financial consulting firm and expanded into asset management and financial services.

None of these activities are inherently predatory, despite what you two seem to believe. None of these activities inherently allowed Bain to interfere where it was not asked. However, your bigotry and intellect match Steve’s and thereby allows both of you to overlook this kind of evidence.

Now, as to your second point, let’s make a deal. Just as soon as the president releases his entire set of passport, academic, and work records, then we’ll get Romney to release some more of those evil tax returns. We’ll call this the ‘Golden Rule’ of Transparency, OK?

I often wonder just how stupid one has to be in order to fail to understand how useless this type of political discourse is. But, then again, you probably view me (and Kathy) as “bought and paid for stooges and minions” whose only mission here is to defend Romney.
The issue isn't Romney's wealth, it's his cowardice, basically. As everyone knows he's wealthy, even Mitt, the question is political, and about, probably, tax avoidance. Probably legal tax avoidance, but politically disadvantageous avoidance.

Simpletons might try to do something absurdly moronic, such as suggest it's about envy or its companion slogan "class warfare," but, according to the Bell Curve, these dullards are a statistical minority. Only idiots try to recast the argument away from the point with such a childish device.

Mitt is running scared from showing he milks the system in a way most Americans would think un-American. It's that simple, politically.

The fact is Mitt never created a single job, except offshore. Staples did not create jobs for any entity other than Staples, and Mitt wasn't involved in running the company anyway. When a business gains market share it does so at the expense of other jobs and other companies. It's job-shifting. Only increased demand creates jobs, and does so in the aggregate. Trickle-down is an economic joke.

And no, not all companies welcomed the Bain treatment. Some victims of LBOs were probably not pleased, nor were their employees. Loading companies with debt and sucking pension funds dry while Bain skimmed the cash away might be legal, but isn't ethical, nor would most Americans find it anything but distasteful.

Mitt is a smarmy coward as a politician, and if not running for president (because his daddy did) nobody would really care that he accomplished outrageous profits for not doing anything productive and stashed the cash offshore to avoid contributing to the country that allowed him the freedom to do so.

That aside, he's the most stiff, awkward, ill-spoken, shape-shifting, unprincipled smarm-meister to run for president since Nixon, though he wasn't as poor an example.

THAT...he can't hide.
Paul,

I have to admit that you're improving as a stalker. We all appreciate your attempts to limit the name calling and to address the issues. However, in raising your grade from an F- to D-, our hope is that you will understand that additional improvement is required.

Let me provide an example to help you along in this regard:

I could say that your idiotic view that Dunkin' Donuts, or Staples, is in business to create jobs reflects how little you understand about business. However, that would be insulting to idiots, all of whom well understand why these companies are really engaged in commerce.

Instead, better manners would require that I gently remind you, and all who are blessed with your uninformed view of the business world, of the principle to which both of these companies adhere. They both indulge in their respective enterprises primarily to create wealth for their owners, not to provide jobs.

The owners, which may include stock holders, benefit when donuts and staples are produced and sold at a profit. Otherwise, they lose.

Hiring a person at either company involves a decision whether the cost of their employment is worth the return of their services. It's not automatically true that the more jobs Dunkin Donuts provides the more money it makes. Instead, what it true is that the more doughnuts Dunkin Donuts sells at a profit the more money it makes.

If you need more help with this concept, then just PM me.

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To claim that Mitt never helped to create a job in America is about as true as claiming that the Tenth Amendment was never designed to limit the powers of our national government. My guess is that even Steve saw through that one, Paul.

Further, since Staples probably doesn't make its own staples, my guess is that you are also incorrect in your claim that Staples never created a job for any entity other than itself. This would be additionally true if Staples had to transport the products it sells from where they are made, or warehoused, to its stores.

Shit, so much for another set of PJOR theories.

========

As to your accusations of Mitt's cowardice, etc.,. we could talk about what it took to speak to the entitlement mentality at the NAACP convention and tell them of his intention to quash Obamacare, but. . . . one can only do so much with the intellect provided.

Take care, Buddy. We'll see you at the next post.
Chris,
Did you think I was referring to you when I mentioned how childish it is to babble about envy and class warfare? If so, you are correct, but now we can add the crybaby whine about stalking. Yes, you are a fun pigeon and yes, you hilariously criticize others intelligence during displays of your own lack of depth and heft, but no, your dumbass isn't worth "stalking." You get hit because you're a condescending fool who argues like a ninny. Trust me, it's a convenience, not a mission.

Only increased demand creates jobs, and your example of supply chains and whatever does nothing to change that fact. As if those suppliers weren't already supplying. You never created a job, I never created a job. I employed/employ people, but I didn't create the demand that resulted in hiring, and if aggregate demand didn't rise, I was simply moving a competitor's job onto my payroll. Added demand creates new/more jobs. Old demand doesn't.

As far as business knowledge goes, Chris, there isn't much to it. I know simpletons who made millions and very intelligent people who didn't. Your lacking is economics and, basically, that you don't have a logical mind or self-awareness of that.

You engage in a simplistic description of business which, like all your drivel, is nothing more than a wordy waste of words. Honestly, Chris, you're not very smart, which is why you simplify every issue you comment on. Sweeping blatherfests about Big Gubmint, but nary an intelligent response on point and on topic. Pissy child whimpering about stalking, envy and class warfare, but never a direct comment on the mechanics of governing.

Why? Because you don't know Shiite from Shinola. Yours is a generic argument anyone can make, not improved by piling on words or your see-through fakir condescension. People are impressed by ideas and lucid thoughts, and all the condescension in the world can't serve as a replacement.

Let's assume you made some money. If so, then you aren't the first guy on Earth to confuse that with intelligence. Let's assume you owned a biz and had employees. If so, you aren't the first in the galaxy to think authority is intelligence. Let's assume--and this is a stretch--that you're intelligent in one area. You wouldn't be the first numbskull to think that translates across the spectrum of All Things.

If you were smart, you wouldn't argue as you do. It's that simple, and to you, that confusing. Logically speaking, you're a Post Hoc Post Turtle -- wiggling your stubby non-sequitur legs but going nowhere.

I can run circles around you any day and you know it as well as anyone. So can Steve, Kanuk, et and al. You're just a bloated blathermeister with simple, generic thoughts who wants to be in the smart guys club but doesn't have the price of a ticket. So you babble endlessly and attempt insult.

Let me clue you in on that, Chris. You have to be intelligent to effectively insult. Not only as a question of form, but of function. Pasting an insult before, between or after expressions of painfully simplistic thinking completely neuters the insult. It doesn't make you look witty. You are not witty. You will never be witty. Wit is a product of a certain intelligence.

Explain how the 10th limits the government, but if your self-created theory is correct, that explanation cannot include any other element of the Constitution. (to others--this is like telling GW he'll find his briefing book in the corner of the Oval Office.)

Report back when you have the answer.

I'm sorry you can't chew the leather, Chris, but that's not anybody's fault but yours.
"Trust me, it's a convenience, not a mission."

That, for me, sums up the fun to be had online while spanking rightwing ideologues.
it seems unlikely - given the serious federal restrictions on the amount of IRA contributions one can make - that mitt's IRA could even be worth $1 million, let alone $100 million

the most you can contribute is $5,000 annually. he'd have to contribute the $5,000 maximum for 200 years, and never lost a penny in all the stock market crashes, to have $1 million.

if you're going to just make up some unbelievable bullshit, why not just say "a billion"?

your credibility is now "minus 100 million"

this is ample proof - if any were needed - that we are indeed math challenged nation.
Don’t take it from me, then. Take it from Edward D. Kleinbard, professor at Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California, former chief of staff of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, and Peter C. Canellos, attorney, former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section, in CNN’s "Why won't Romney release more tax returns?" (7/18/12).

“Romney's $100 million IRA is remarkable in its size. Even under the most generous assumptions, Romney would have been restricted to annual contributions of $30,000 while he worked at Bain. How does this grow to $100 million?

One possibility is that a truly mighty oak sprang up virtually overnight from relatively tiny annual acorns because of the unprecedented prescience of every one of Romney's investment choices.

Another, which on its face is quite plausible, is that Romney stuffed far more into his retirement plans each year than the maximum allowed by law by claiming that the stock of the Bain company deals that the retirement plan acquired had only a nominal value. He presumably would have done so by relying on a special IRS "safe harbor" rule relating to the taxation of a service partner's receipt of such interests, but that rule emphatically does not apply to an interest when sold to a retirement plan, which is supposed to be measured by its true fair market value.”
Knowingly undervaluing a stock for tax purposes is illegal and immoral.