Romney wants to eliminate Capital Gains Tax for everyone except those who are real job creators

Obama: Raise Taxes, Capital Gains – “For Purposes of Fairness”

Everyone knows that if you eliminate the capital gains tax then those who are wealthy will put more money into creating jobs. However, Mitt Romney feels so guilty about being wealthy that he has proposed eliminating the capital gains for everyone except for those making over 200,000 dollars.

  • OCTOBER 21, 2011, 7:08 P.M. ET

Romney’s Guilty Republican Syndrome

A leading GOP contender defines ‘rich’ as $200,000 in income. Funny. So does President Obama.

As the GOP casts about for a response to Occupy Wall Street, at least one prominent Republican isn’t sweating it. In the war over class, Mitt Romney is already waving a white flag. And therein lies one of his chief liabilities as a Republican nominee or president.

The Occupy masses don’t have a unified message, though the Democrats embracing them aren’t making that mistake. President Obama helpfully explained that the crowds in New York and elsewhere are simply expressing their “frustrations” at unequal American society. The answer to their protests is, conveniently, his own vision for the country. If wealthier Americans and corporations are just asked to pay their “fair share,” if “we can go back to that then I think a lot of that anger, that frustration dissipates,” said the president.

Associated PressGOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the trail

This is a campaign theme in the making, and one with which Mr. Obama has already had plenty of practice. Congressional Democrats, too, see the value of pivoting off Occupy Wall Street to build an election-year class-warfare argument.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s latest answer to any spending proposal is a “millionaire’s surtax,” which he intends to make Republicans vote against ad nauseam. Labor unions, liberal activist groups—all see an Occupy opportunity to refocus the blame for a faltering economy away from President Obama and to greedy, rich America.

But here’s the other big prize, from the White House’s perspective: The man they most expect to become the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, is already running from this debate. Mr. Romney, they see, is in the full throes of Guilty Republican Syndrome.

It’s a curious illness, even if its source is clear: success. Mr. Romney is a multimillionaire, and through his own hard work. It’s a great American story, yet the Republican is paralyzed at the thought of what his opponents might do with it in a 9% unemployment economy. Democrats have already pounced on his time at Bain Capital, accusing Mr. Romney of “stripping down” companies and “laying off” employees for profit. The press has run exposés on his privileged upbringing, his “oceanfront” vacation home, his use of private jets.

Even his Republican opponents, who should know better, are lobbing anti-wealth pot shots. Herman Cain has taken to comparing his own “Main Street” business experience to Mr. Romney’s “Wall Street” past. Rick Perry is running an ad that hits Mr. Romney on his state health-care plan but ends with this bit of class: “Even the richest man can’t buy back his past.”

Having initially fought these caricatures, Mr. Romney has since begun to exhibit all the syndrome’s symptoms. He’s put forth a 59-point economic plan that eliminates the capital gains tax—but only for people who earn less than $200,000 a year. He’s declared, at a New Hampshire town hall (and at every other opportunity): “I’m not running for the rich people. Rich people can take care of themselves. They’re doing just fine.” He’s developed a form of Tourette’s that causes him to employ the term “middle class” in nearly every sentence.

Related Video

James Taranto on how Mitt Romney’s guilt as a millionaire feeds Democratic class warfare.

Mr. Romney is clearly hoping that his own passive form of class warfare will head his opponents off at the blue-collar pass. Really? The 2012 election is shaping up to be a profound choice. Mr. Obama is making no bones about his vision of higher taxes, wealth redistribution, larger government.

Mr. Romney has generally espoused the opposing view—smaller government, fewer regulations, opportunity—but only timidly. This hobbles his ability to go head to head with the president, to make the moral and philosophical case for that America. How can Mr. Romney oppose Mr. Obama’s plans to raise taxes on higher incomes, dividends and capital gains when the Republican himself diminishes the role of the “top 1%”? How can he demonstrate a principled understanding of capital and job creation when latching on to Mr. Obama’s own trademark $200,000 income cutoff?

At a town hall in Iowa Thursday, Mr. Romney took it further: “For me, one of the key criteria in looking at tax policy is to make sure that we help the people that need the help the most.”

These are the sort of statements that cause conservative voters to doubt Mr. Romney’s convictions. It also makes them doubt the ability of a President Romney to convince a Congress of the need for fundamental tax reform. If anything he owes a debt to Newt Gingrich, who in a recent debate gave him a taste of how politically and intellectually vulnerable he is on this argument, asking Mr. Romney to justify the $200,000 threshold.

Mr. Romney’s non-responsive response included five references to the “middle” class and another admonition that the “rich” are “doing just fine.” Mr. Obama can’t wait to agree, even as he shames Mr. Romney over his bank account.

Mr. Romney isn’t the first Republican to develop Guilty Syndrome, and one option would be to form a support group with, say, George H.W. Bush. A better cure might be the tonic of Ronald Reagan, who never let his own wealth get in the way of a good lower-tax argument. Reagan’s message, delivered with cheerfulness and conviction, was that he wanted everyone in American to have the opportunity to be as successful as he had been. If Mr. Romney is looking for a way to connect with an aspiring American electorate, that’s a start.

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