‘The Romney Rule’: Could Mitt’s Millions Help Obama To Reelection?
President Obama is having a field day dinging Republicans with his Buffett Rule — the principle that the super-rich shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than middle income Americans.
Now, someone who hopes to see Obama reelected says he’s found a similarly snappy line to attack the man emerging as Obama’s main rival: Mitt Romney.
Presenting The Romney Rule: the bumper sticker-friendly way Democrats are saying Romney favors exactly the opposite of what Buffett prescribes.
Greg Sargent first noticed the early green shoots of the idea:
The other day, Time magazine’s Michael Scherer weighed in with a great post reporting that one of the wealthy individuals who would be impacted by Obama’s push for the “Buffett Rule” is none other than Mitt Romney.
As Scherer noted, much of Romney’s income comes from investments, making him exactly the sort of “millionaire and billionaire” that Obama has been talking about — those who pay a lower tax rate than many middle class taxpayers.
Sargent noted that the idea of Romney as Buffett Rule millionaire had caught on with PrioritiesUSA Action, a pro-Obama fundraising group hoping to counter big money coming from American Crossroads and the like. In a follow-up post, PrioitiesUSA’s Paul Begala first floated the “Romney Rule” as a summary of the position.
Begala, who knows a thing or two about sexy one-liners that can grab an electorate, told TPM Wednesday that “Romney Rule” could be catching.
“It does kind of roll off the tongue, doesn’t it?” he said in an interview.
Citizens for Tax Justice, a progressive-leaning group, estimated Romney’s 2010 tax rate at 14%, based on public records of his income (read the reporting on all that in the Time piece here.) Begala cited the CTJ figure and said it shows a huge weakness for Romney in a political climate where many Americans are clamoring for a more balanced tax burden on the wealthiest.
Romney is trying hard to showcase a regular-guy image, but Begala says it seems clear he can’t shake off his privileged pedigree and millions of dollars in investment wealth.
“It’s part of the reason that maybe even Republicans haven’t warned up to him,” Begala said. “He comes off, as Mike Huckabee famously said, like the guy who laid you off.”
That’s a problem Begala says Democrats can exploit, and he rolled out another zinger to make the point.
“Millionaire Mitt thinks he should pay a lower tax rate than maids and Master Sergeants,” Begala said. “And that’s what we’re calling the Romney Rule.”
As the Huckabee quote reminds us, Romney has been attacked over his wealth (and the way he made it) in the past. This time around, Romney’s still playing up his business credentials, but also casting himself as “unemployed” and a member of the middle class. He’s also hopped on the class warfare train as progressive protests on Wall Street and other places have spooled up.
But Begala said Romney just can’t shake the accurate perception that he’s far wealthier than virtually everyone he’s trying to represent as president. (Obama is too, of course, but then again he’s the one pushing the Buffett Rule in the first place.) And the estimated 14% tax rate Romney paid last year makes him perhaps the perfect foil for Obama’s populist push.
“It’s sticky because it’s true,” Begala said when asked to muse about the possibilities of “Romney Rule” catching fire on the campaign trail.
So is this the next great Democratic bumper sticker? “Stay tuned,” Begala said.
Original article by Evan McMorris-Santoro on Talking Points Memo.