Viewing someone’s tax forms is like undressing them in the middle of the Quad. Nothing can be hidden from the IRS. I’ve heard stories of criminal drug dealers reporting their drug money on their IRS forms but having no fear of the local or federal police authorities because they feared the IRS far more.
Obama is a mystery, but perhaps we can gain an honest viewing of him from his tax returns as dissected by Bloomberg.com:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle gave $10,772 of the $1.2 million they earned from 2000 through 2004 to charities, or less than 1 percent, according to tax returns for those years released today by his campaign.
The Obamas increased the amount they gave to charity when their income rose in 2005 and 2006 after the Illinois senator published a bestselling book. The $137,622 they gave over those two years amounted to more than 5 percent of their $2.6 million income.
Bill Burton, campaign spokesman, said the Obamas gave as much as they could afford. He also said the Obamas gave $240,000 to charity in 2007, though they have yet to make last year’s tax returns public.
Burton should have kept his mouth shut. The Obamas gave as much as they could afford…oh really? $10,772 out of $1.2 million is all they could squeeze out? That’s a 0.8977% donation rate from 2000-2004.Besides these numbers being disturbing, especially given Obama’s supposed devotion to bettering the world and uplifting everyone from poverty and hope and change and yada yada yada, I am suspicious of the fact that his holiness’ donation rates have increased in recent years given that he knew he would be running for President in the near future and that these sorts of things would come under public scrutiny. Keep in mind that he hit the national political scene in 2004, is it a coincidence that the very next year his donation rate soared to an incredibly high and generous 5%? In other words, even the slightly higher donation rates were doubtfully inspired by genuine empathy for the world’s suffering. Furthermore, we do not know what causes Obama is donating to, they could be things like the Chicago Symphony or the University of Chicago, and not things like preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa. Obama’s low donation rates, and the hypocrisy it implies, troubles me more than anything else I know about him.
The hypocrisy, of course, is this lack of donation contradicts Obama’s vision that government use higher taxes to collectively pool the incredible wealth that laissez-faire capitalism has generated in order to lift up those who have been left behind. If this is a fair statement of his philosophy, then it is also ironic that he seeks to impede the same American capitalism that has generated that immense wealth by converting us to a Euro-welfare state.
More generally it is important to note comparative generosity, “Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America — and it’s making him nervous.
The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.”
Also bizarre is that the Obama’s appear to own no stocks and do not maintain a 401(k) plan. One reason to not keep a 401(k) plan is if you predict vastly higher tax rates in the future, something his chief economics adviser, Austan Goolsbee, warned of in 2006. Perhaps Obama is planning on future taxes being high because he is planning on raising them himself.
For Prescott and other tax nerds, here is Obama’s actual 2006 tax return.
Here is the CNN article describing Obama’s challenge of Clinton to release her own tax statements.