Under pressure to release his tax returns, Mitt Romney released some financial documents this afternoon. According to the documents, Romney made $362,000 from speaking appearances over the course of a year, including one to a British bank that received $8.5 billion in federal bailout money. That works out to a little over $40,222 per speech, or a little bit less than the median annual income in the US. Per speech. Not bad for a guy who’s unemployed and quipped “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.” He gets more for speaking for 30 to 45 minutes than many Americans make in a year.
By the way, his unemployment is a relatively recent development:
He also earned $113,880.73 for serving on the board of the Marriott International hotel chain, a post he held from January 2009 until January 2011.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this. But if the Republicans are looking for someone who can break the party’s image of rich white guys or readily identify with the concerns of white knuckle America, Mitt Romney probably isn’t that man. John McCain came under fire during the 2008 campaign when he couldn’t remember how many houses he had. Mitt Romney probably does remember all of his houses, and keeps data about them on a spreadsheet that he tweaks on his private jet flights between speeches. Or, that’s the image the Democrats will paint of him. Axelrod is probably scripting the ads right now.
Update: Romney’s bad day continues. Pressed to discuss how much he pays in taxes, Romney tossed out a low number.
“What’s the effective rate I’ve been paying? It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything. Because my last 10 years, I’ve—my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. And then I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much.”
In raw dollars Romney is tossing quite a bit into the tax kitty — 15% of $362k plus whatever property taxes he pays is more money than say 25% of $50,000, the median American income. And it’s much more than the zero in federal income taxes that about 47% or so of Americans effectively pay. But high income plus low tax rate makes the Democrats’ job of painting him as an out of touch elite that much easier.
Of course, the Democrats aren’t helping their own cause by having Obama accept his renomination in massive Bank of America stadium. Will the fake Greek columns make a return appearance?