CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring. This is hard.
So said Ann Romney, in a moment of pique-driven advice to Republicans who criticize her husband. We who are fresh out of dressage horses can only guess at the rigors of the chase for First Ladyship. Mrs. Romney, she of multiple mansions and cadres of Cadillacs, has infused our imaginations with images of similar fits of imperial unhappiness.
I have no quarrel with either of the Romneys. I concede that they are my betters, at least in their belief in their own superiority. Perhaps they believe it because they are so rich they can't throw a person off welfare without hitting an offshore account.
Regarding dressage, the Romneys took a $77,000 write-off for their four-legged prancer -- as a business expense. I am compelled by my quality assurance department to make the following disclaimer: To become President, one should never claim a tax break for a fancy dancing horse, when that deduction is greater than the annual income of the average West Virginian.
In 2010, Mitt and Ann managed to eke out a subsistence on a mere $20 million, with $95 out of $100 coming from dividends, capital gains and the like. Mitt's tax plan, some large details of which he has twice enumerated in USA Today op-eds, calls for zero taxes on such income. Thus, had his vision been in place in 2010, Mitt's taxes would have been about 1 percent of his income, which is why I and others who are capable of fifth-grade arithmetic are thinking of investing in unmitigated brass.
Recently we were privileged to understand even more about the real Mitt. I am referring to his high-hat remarks at a Florida fundraiser. He all but termed "moochers" and "deadbeats" the 47 percent of Americans who paid no federal income tax in one recent year. And half of them are Republicans!
Playing to the blind prejudices of his wealthy listeners, Romney said of the 47 percent, "...they think they are entitled to have the government take care of them ... I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility." That from a man who made well over $30 million in two years, and assumes he is behaving responsibly if he pays 1 percent income tax.
Excuse me, for buying my clothes off the rack.
A closer look at the 47 percent is revealing. Take away the 28 percent who are the working poor. Their earnings are so low that they don't qualify to pay taxes. And take away the 10 percent who worked all their lives, but now get by on nothing but Social Security. Their modest incomes also are below the minimum required to pay income tax. And subtract the several million still out of work because Republican deregulators decided to have a cuddle-fest with the financial industry. Do the math, and Mitt's irresponsible 47 percent of us is closer to 5 percent.
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Recently I wrote of my two-month effort to persuade Waste Management to swap out their damaged trash container. The next business day it was replaced with a 2012 model. A couple of days after that, a second new container found its way to my driveway. It was removed a few days after that. Stay tuned.
Wyatt is a Gazette contributing columnist and a professor at Marshall University.