Mitt Romney's Tax Lie And The Occupy Wall Street Movement

November 04, 2011 10:35 am ET — Jamison Foser

For weeks, thousands of Americans have participated in nationwide protests against a fundamentally broken economic and political system under which a tiny fraction of the wealthiest Americans — millionaires and billionaires, basically — keep taking more and more of the nation's wealth and leaving less and less for everyone else. This mass outrage over a nation that supposedly stands for equality of opportunity descending ever further into plutocracy is clearly causing some concern among its targets: Just this week, Bank of America dropped plans to charge customers a $5 monthly fee for the privilege of using debit cards. 

Against that backdrop, Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican Party's presidential nomination — and, not coincidentally, an extraordinarily wealthy man who amassed his quarter-billion-dollar fortune by running a venture capital firm, in the process overcoming the adversity of being the son of another extraordinarily wealthy man who served as governor of Michigan, cabinet secretary, and auto company CEO — took questions yesterday about "tax cuts for the wealthy." That's a topic Romney should know well since he's proposing just such cuts. But here's what Romney said:

ROMNEY: You're buying into President Obama's line and the Democratic Party line that my party is the party of tax cuts for the rich. That just doesn't happen to be the case. The policies I've put forward are tax cuts for the middle class. I'm proposing no tax cuts for the rich.

That's completely, 100 percent false. Among other things, Romney wants to eliminate the estate tax. The estate tax applies only to estates in excess of $5 million. Romney is, therefore, lying. (He has proposed plenty of other taxes that would solely or mostly benefit rich people like himself.) He isn't spinning, or being misleading. He's lying, plain and simple. 

So, let's recap:

1) Mitt Romney, one of the two people most likely to be president of the United States in 14 months, is very, very rich, with a net worth up to $250 million.

2) Mitt Romney proposes the elimination of the estate tax, which would cut taxes exclusively — not just primarily — for fabulously wealthy people like Mitt Romney.

3) Americans are increasingly angry that America's political and economic systems are rigged in favor of the wealthy elites who run them, and are literally taking to the streets for weeks at a time to protest the growing inequality that inevitably results from such systems.

4) Mitt Romney claims he is not proposing tax cuts for the rich — a clear, unambiguous lie.

That is, by pretty much any sensible definition of the term, newsworthy. A presidential frontrunner lying about his tax policy, which would favor rich people like him, at a time when thousands are protesting in cities all across the country against wealthy elites rigging the system in their favor? Newsworthy.

But it is not news, insofar as news is what big news organizations say it is. Romney's lie has been all but ignored. Do a Google News search for Romney AND "I'm proposing no tax cuts for the rich" and you'll get, at this writing, only two hits — both from ThinkProgress. The nation's leading news organizations pump out tons of content each day — but haven't gotten around to this important and timely matter. Not that this should be surprising: Mitt Romney is many things, but he is not a self-destructive moron. He wouldn't tell such a clear-cut lie if he didn't think he'd get away with it.

Let's look at Politico, for example. This is a news organization that exists solely to cover politics. It's right there in the name: Politico. They don't cover sports, they don't review movies or rock concerts. They cover politics. And they churn out endless material each day — a non-stop stream of news, gossip, innuendo, opinion, glorified stenography, investigative reporting, and everything in between. Among the dozens of stories on Politico's front page last night: Freshmen House Republicans have been slow to pony up their NRCC duesHouse Democrats want to get rid of the Defense of Marriage ActSenators from Missouri won a bet on the outcome of the World Series, and lots and lots of Herman Cain. There's even a blog post revealing that a consultant for Mitt Romney read a Washington Post article critical of his boss. Seriously: That's the whole post. No story is too small for Politico. But Politico hasn't reported Romney's extremely newsworthy lie. 

And that, in a nutshell, is why the Occupy Wall Street movement exists, and is so important: Wealthy elites constantly rig the system even further in their favor and brazenly lie about doing so, and the news media — which is, of course, run by wealthy elites — won't tell you about it.