The Ed Show | January 17, 2012
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW . What do we know about the probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney ? This guy has tried to tell the American people he's unemployed, he's tried to pass himself off as a middle classer, and he's tried to tell us that he's really worried about pink slips. Today, we found out a little bit more about Mitt Romney , his effective tax rate
ROMNEY: Effective rate I have been paying on is probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything because my last 10 years I have -- my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income. 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.
SCHULTZ: Good for you , Mitt . Romney is already under pressure to release his tax returns . So here he is, trying to break the news to the American people about how he pays a lower tax rate than many middle class Americans ? Then he casually says the money he gets from speakers fees is not very much. But according to his own financial disclosure forms, Mitt Romney made $374,327 in speaker fees in one year. That ain't bad on the rubber chicken circuit, folks. That is what Mr. Out of Touch thinks is not very much? No, it's real good. The median household income in American is just $49,445. So you tell me, is he in touch? Romney 's speaking fees were more than seven times the median household income in this country? Today, Newt Gingrich had some fun with Romney's tax rate .
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He ought to release his taxes and find out whether or not it was really 15 percent. And second, I think that we ought to rename our flat tax . We have a 15 percent flat tax , this will be the Mitt Romney flat tax that all Americans could then pay the rate Romney paid. That is just terrific.
SCHULTZ: Let's turn to Bob Shrum , Democratic strategist and professor at New York University . Bob , great to have you with us tonight. I mean, Romney and his 15 percent tax rate you know, there are wealthy people out there that say hey, that is the law, we're going to work the system the best we can. This is the way you manage your money in contemporary times. But the disconnect and then the comment about the $374,000 in speaker fees as not being very much -- how is this going to play? This is what you want your candidate to do in front of the public in front of the cameras?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It sure isn't, but it's what I want their candidate to do. Look, this guy is out of touch. Not just the $374,000. This is a guy who says he likes firing people, tries to make a $10,000 bet. I'll bet that when he finally releases these tax returns and you know it took him 180 biffing and farbling words in the debate the other night to answer that question, when he finally releases them under pressure, I'll bet he didn't pay quite 15 percent. That's why he's being careful to say around 15 percent. I'll also bet that they'll release the 2011 returns, because they can carefully engineer those to the needs of the campaign. What we need to see are the returns going all the way back to 2000 , which is what President Obama has released, because we have to find out whether or not this guy paid no taxes in some years or paid almost no taxes. Right now, he is -- maybe the strongest Republican candidate in this ridiculous field, but he's in some ways a perfect foil for the argument President Obama wants to make about whose side are you on?
SCHULTZ: You know, politicians go in crowds and they kiss babies, because they want to feel connected to people. And then this guy might do that but then he goes in front of the camera and says, well, $375,000, well it puts him in the top 1 percent of income earners in America , then he says, well, it's not that much. I mean, could something like this haunt him along the campaign trail for a long time? Is he going to have to mop this up? I mean, politicians are in the image business, what a horrible image it would seem. What do you think?
SHRUM: Yes. And it's not that he's rich. Look, Franklin Roosevelt was rich. John Kennedy was rich. They never would have said anything like this. They understood the needs and travails and the hopes and the disappointments of ordinary people . He seems entirely disconnected from it. And maybe that's because of his years of experience at Bain , where in a lot of cold-blooded ways, they just laid people off, took away their health insurance, did all sort of other things to turn a profit for themselves. You know, he thinks he's going to explain Bain by saying we had some successful companies. That's not the question. The question is, what about the companies that failed, even if they got a federal bail out, what about the companies where all the workers lost their jobs, they went down and Romney and his partners still made tens of millions of dollars. There is a new poll out showing that even Republicans are beginning to worry about that. It's up to about 34 percent disapproval of his business record . That tells you it's going to be a very powerful issue in the general election.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think it gives the American people a snapshot of Romney's business experience in that he's dealing with millions that he would actually come out and not realize how callous he is and disconnected from the American middle class by saying, you know, $375,000. It's really not that much. I had some speaking fees. Here are more Romney classics for you. Here we go. Let's take a look.
ROMNEY: Well, I should also tell my story, I'm also unemployed.
ROMNEY: There were a couple times I wonder whether I was going to get a pink slip . I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. Ten thousand bucks, $10,000 bet?
GOV. RICK PERRY , PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not in the betting business.
SCHULTZ: I mean, this guy is looking like a phony right now. He's portraying himself to the American people something that he simply is not, what do you think?
SHRUM: He's revealing his real self . His real self is totally removed. His real self is in this take over world, that is where he made his money. I think as I have said to you before -- his whole campaign for the presidency is a business plan . It's not a core of conviction. And I got to say, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are right about that. This guy is saying what do the Republican primary voters want, I'm going to give it to the. I'm going to see if I can go out there like I took over some of these companies and see if I can take over the White House . And I think we're going to see more and more of this as the campaign goes on.
SHRUM: Because they have one of two choices -- either he's going to be in a very tight box where he's very, very awkward, or is he going to be allowed to go out there and say what pops into his head. And what pops into his head and out of his mouth is often far more revealing of his true character than the people running the campaign would like.
SCHULTZ: You know, I just -- Mitt Romney does not come off as a guy who cares about average Americans . President Obama does. It's the image business. It will be real interesting to see how it plays out. Bob , always great to have you with us here on THE ED SHOW . Appreciate your time tonight.