Mitt Romney Thinks $360,000 Is "Not Very Much" Money

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 17 2012 6:34 PM

Mitt Romney Thinks $360,000 Is "Not Very Much" Money

FLORENCE, SC - JANUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on January 17, 2012 in Florence, South Carolina.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Speaking earlier today, Mitt Romney fessed up to the fact that he doesn't want to release his tax returns because he pays an embarassingly low tax rate. But it's pretty well known that many economists and basically all conservatives think investment income should be taxed at a lower rate than labor income. I think the real news Romney made is that he lacks perspective on what constitutes "not very much" income:

“What’s the effective rate I’ve been paying? It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything,” Romney, a GOP presidential candidate, said. “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 speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”

It turns out that Romney "collected more than $360,000 in speaking fees from such companies as Barclay’s Bank and Goldentree Asset Management over a 12-month period ending last year, according to his financial disclosure filing." To put that in perspective, that's over 7.2 times the median household income in the United States. If you earned over $360,000 last year and lived in the richest county in America, you'd be earning about triple the local median household income. You would be, in other words, a rich person even if you didn't have any investment income, hadn't made a fortune in your earlier career, and weren't only a part-time income earner who was mostly focused on his presidential campaign. I think it's lame to criticize politicians for being "out of touch," but it suggests an unfamiliarity with important, policy-relevant, and not-particularly-obscure economic statistics for Romney to characterize this as "not very much" income

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.