A great editorial from the LA Times. Yes, Citizens United is with us (for now), but the DISCLOSE Act lets Americans see who gave how much $ to the wretched Super PACS. – R. T.
Mitt Romney’s trusts invested in Japanese automakers, European alternative energy companies, foreign pharmaceuticals, several French companies, and took a tax write off of $1.4 million for donating to his own charitable foundation. And much of Romney’s funds were invested through Goldman Sachs, the controversial Wall Street firm that received $10 billion in federal TARP money and hundreds of billions of dollars in federal loans. One thing’s for certain – Mitt Romney did not invest as an American economic nationalist. He put his money where got the most bang for his buck, often in overseas bank accounts investments.
By Steven R. Maher
Mitt Romney had good reasons to hide his tax returns. It provides a fascinating look at a man who would be an American President, but often put his money to work in foreign companies that directly compete with American manufacturers. While the American automobile industry was struggling to survive, Mitt was investing in Toyota and Mitsubishi. While campaigning for the country to free itself from the dependency of foreign oil, Romney, acting through trusts, was buying stock in foreign manufacturers of alternative energy sources. And in something remarkable, Romney gave $1.4 million to his own “charitable” foundation and reported it as a deduction on his tax return.
Romney’s tax returns, released Tuesday January 24, 2012, show heavy reliance on the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs, which received $10 billion in federal TARP money and hundreds of billions of dollars in federal loans. The TARP money and loans, later repaid by Goldman Sachs, took place around the same time Romney invested with the firm.
Well structured finances
First, a brief explanation about how Romney structured his finances to minimize his tax liabilities and provide for the lowest possible tax on his estate when it passes to his heirs. Not surprisingly, Romney appears to have greatly benefited from sophisticated legal and accounting advice.
Romney set up three trusts to house his property: the “Ann and Mitt Romney 1995 Family Trust” (the most fascinating of the group); the “W. Mitt Romney Blind Trust”); the “Ann B. Romney Blind Trust”; and the “Tyler Charitable Foundation” a “Nonexempt Charitable Foundation Treated as a Private Foundation.”
Theoretically a “blind trust” functions much like a super Pac – the owner of the assets, like the Presidential beneficiary of a super Pac, has plausible denial ability for knowledge of the Trustees’ investment decisions, which are supposedly made only by the trustees. Hence the description as a “blind” trust.
It is unknown if the “Ann and Mitt Romney 1995 Family Trust” is a blind trust. It does not state that on the front of the trust tax return filing. If it was established in 1995, the tax law at that time may not have required it. This trust is the most interesting of the four entities Romney published on his campaign, because many of the foreign investments reviewed in this article were made through that trust.
We sent two emails to Romney’s press office asking if the “Ann and Mitt Romney 1995 Family Trust” was a blind trust, and if it was, for documentation proving that. No response was received from the Romney campaign.
Romney defended his investments in the January 26, 2012 Presidential debate by saying that all the purchases were done by a Trustee, that he did not know about them, and that his trusts purchased stocks through mutual funds rather than directly from the companies. But Romney did sign the tax returns, and he at least knew about where his money went at that point. It is hard to believe that Romney, who has campaigned on his abilities at as a CEO, did not know what was being done in his name with his money.
The sole Trustee of all four Romney entities is R. Bradford Malt of the prestigious Boston law firm Ropes & Gray. All four entities’ tax reports were done by the same accountant, Daniel P. Feheley of the equally prestigious accounting firm Price, Waterhouse & Coopers. All four entities had their cash parked at Goldman Sachs and several purchased stock in the same companies, often selling stock on or within a few days or weeks of each other. Two of the trusts may have been “blind” and one a charitable foundation, but they seemed to make the same investment decisions at the same time.
Romney funneled his income into these trusts, and through the trusts, back into the private tax return of his wife and himself. Why the trusts?
All three of Romney’s trusts were “grantor trusts”, which Black’s Law Dictionary describes as follows: “A trust in which the grantor transfers or conveys property in trust for his own benefit alone or for himself or another.” Depending on the nature of the trust, Romney could have done this to transfer his property to his heirs or act as a tax shelter.
His own charity
Romney’s tax return listed his income as follows:
· Total income listed was $21,646,507. Of this, $3.295,727 was interest income, and $4,923,348 was dividends ($1.5 million from the “Ann and Mitt Romney 1995 Trust” and $3 million from the “Ann D. Romney Blind Trust”).
· Romney filed two self-employment Schedule Cs. The first was for $113,881 as a member of the Marriott International’s Board of Directors. Not bad for a part time job.
· The second self-employment form filed was for author and speakers’ fees. Romney had income of $528,871 gross income for “author/speaking fees”. According to published press reports, $370,000 of this was for speaking fees, an amount Romney described as “inconsequential.”
· Romney paid a total tax of slightly over $3 million on adjusted gross income of $21,646,507, an effective tax rate of 13.9%.
· Romney received a tax refund of $1.6 million. You or I would probably grab such a refund, but Romney instead applied it to his 2011 taxes.
Romney’s supporters make much of the fact that he gave more to charity than what he paid in taxes. They ignore the fact that a good part of Romney’s charity began at home. Of the money donated, $1,458,807 was from the “Ann Romney Blind Trust” to the “Tyler Charitable Foundation”, a non-cash transfer of “donated securities”. What Romney’s trustee or representative did was take money out of one Romney trust, put it into another Romney legal entity, take a $1.4 million deduction on his taxes, and maintained legal control of the transferred assets.
This transaction probably took place only on paper, with the stroke of his accountant’s or trustee’s pen. Some paperwork was probably done to transfer the securities, but no cash left Romney’s control in making this donation.
In terms of donating $1.4 million to himself, what did Romney know and when did he know it? At the time someone made the decision, or when he filed his tax returns? We asked that question of Romney’s press office twice by email and received no reply.
If Romney made the biggest – and only donation – to the Tyler foundation, the foundation itself made $647,500 donations to various causes. The two largest donations were $145,000 to the Mormon Church and $100,000 to the George W. Bush presidential library. The Tyler foundation made several smaller donations to the medical institutions that treated his wife for cancer. Romney thought so well of Bush’s presidency that he prioritized his charitable donations to the 43rd President’s library over the medical institutions which saved his wife’s life.
The mainstream media has concentrated on Romney’s bank accounts in the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Grand Cayman Islands. Why did Romney put his money there? Probably because the interest rates were higher and the tax rates lower than your typical American bank. If Romney had been an American economic nationalist, he would have put all his money into the U.S. banking system, where it would have been loaned back to his fellow Americans to buy homes, cars, or expand their private enterprises. But it wouldn’t have been as profitable.
Romney did invest a lot of money in America. But at a time when the country is struggling with a critical balance of trade deficit, he put considerable portions of his investments into overseas banks and companies.
The real story is in the trusts through which Romney sheltered his wealth. Among his investments (many of which were done by the Ann and Mitt Romney 1995 Family Trust):
· Toyota and Mitsubishi. While American car companies were dying, Romney’s trust was putting his money into Japanese carmakers.
· While saying America needs to develop green energy sources, Romney’s trusts invested in foreign alternate energy providers such as the Dutch wind power company Vestas Wind Systems and the Austrian Verbund AS, which gets 90% of its power from hydro-electricity.
· Romney’s trusts have invested in numerous foreign pharmaceuticals and medical suppliers: the Dutch CSL Limited, the Dutch pharmaceutical Novo-Doris; and Fresno’s Medical Care, a German manufacturer of medical supplies.
· Among the foreign high-tech companies Romney’s trusts bought and sold stock in were Turkcel Ietisim, a Turkish cell phone service provider and the British based Sky Broadcasting Group, a tele-communications provider.
· The Romney trusts invested in numerous foreign banks: The Greek National Bank; the Brazilian banking groups Itau Unibanco and Intesta Sanpaolo; and several other large “emerging market” banking groups.
· Your average Republican during the Bush era may have wanted to rename French fries “freedom fries” but that didn’t stop Romney’s trustee from investing in several French companies: LVMH Moet, which is a Paris based clothier; Schlumbegrer LTD, a French company that provides oil field services.
· Romney has said he would crack down on Chinese trading practices, which have cost so many Americans their jobs. His 2010 tax returns show investments in several Chinese companies including the New Oriental Ed & Tech, and the China Life Insurance Company, formerly a state owned enterprise insuring 45% of the Red Chinese public. According to Wikipedia, New Oriental is a system of 40 private schools teaching English, set up originally to train graduate students – presumably so they could come here, attend the best graduate schools in the world, and take their education and technological skills back home from America to create jobs in China.
· Romney’s accountant adroitly played all the legal strategies available to maximize his client’s gains from his foreign investments. Romney got a tax credit of $129,697 for the payment of foreign taxes.
No economic nationalist
Most of Romney’s money was invested through Goldman Sachs, a company that received $10 billion in funds from the “Troubled Asset Relief Program” (TARP). The Federal “Primary Dealer Credit Facility” loaned Goldman Sachs $589 billion in 2009, when Goldman Sachs was purchasing Romney some of the same stocks he sold for a profit in 2010.
What does the tax return say about Mitt Romney’s vision and foresight?
Romney must have known in 2009 that he would be running for President in 2012. He could have reasonably foreseen that at some point he would be pressured into releasing his tax returns. Romney would have been well advised in 2009 to Americanize his portfolio. He should have withdrawn his money from foreign banks and ordered his trustees to only invest in American companies. Romney then could have run as an economic nationalist who put the country’s welfare above his own financial well-being. Short term, it would have led to a reduction in income that would not affect Romney’s life style. Long term, it would have generated enormous political capital and averted the many questions raised by his 2010 tax return.
Great Presidents – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan come to mind – tended to be visionaries who could foresee and proactively resolve problems facing the country. Obviously, Romney three years ago didn’t have the foresight to see the problems to be caused by how he handled his great wealth. The conclusion to be drawn from this is left for the reader to make.
By Nancy Snyder
Just recently we learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention, if news networks will broadcast it. When you add this to the below, just where will all of it stop? …
… For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform … in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. …
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .”
Winds of Change….
*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
pay when they’re out of office.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the
Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into
the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the
American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and
participates in the same health care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void
effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this
contract with Congressmen/women.
Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.
The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!
By Maureen Schwab
Following what was a particularly cold and snowy winter, the warm days of summer are finally here. For the residents of Green Island, and for the many basketball and softball players from throughout the city, summer means heading down to Crompton Park.
On a recent weekday evening, as I strolled through the park at early evening, I was delighted to see three softball games in progress, neighborhood children playing soccer on the tennis courts, and basketball on Cousey court. I was not so delighted to see, however, the sorry sight of many children playing on a dilapidated play structure, and the sorriest sight of all; one lousy broken swing hanging by its solo chain, looking much like a torture device you would find in the Tower of London.
At one time, Crompton Park had a bank of high flying swings at the Endicott St. playground. The baby swings were over on the corner of Canton Street. The swings at Crompton Park have been gone for at least two years. How did we loose our swings, the corner stone of every playground I have ever visited? Why is this being overlooked by the Parks Dept?
I have participated in several park walk-throughs with several different city councilors in the past five years. Residents made requests for change, politicians said they would see what can be done, and nothing had ever really changed in the past years, except for further deterioration of playground equipment at Crompton Park.
All of the city pools were all closed last summer, and in a high stakes, winner takes all game of which neighborhood gets the one city pool, Green Island and Crompton Park won. A $2.5 million pool was approved in Sept. 2009, and will be open to the public July 1, 2011. In the process of building the pool, a play structure was removed, and an empty lot now sits in its place. .
In a series of three meetings held last fall by the Park and Rec Commission, the residents of Green Island had the opportunity to tell representatives of Weston and Sampson what hey would like Crompton Park to look like and include if a makeover for the park were possible.
Following the three meetings, a front page story appeared in the paper. In bold print it stated” MAKEOVER PLANNED …$6.3M slated for Crompton Park” Really? I thought to myself, this is great! As I read through the article, my happy feeling started to disappear, Mr. Antonelli, assistant commissioner of public works and parks is quoted as saying” we will have to find money to fund this project. The only project that will be funded is a new playground that is expected to be completed this summer (2011)”. This structure will be located at the corner of Harding and Canton streets.
A legal notice appeared on 6/17/11, asking for bids to install playground equipment, safety surfacing, fencing and appearances at Crompton Park. The cost of this project is estimated at $175,000. When the new structure goes up, the playground on Endicott Street will come down. How soon this will happen remains to be seen. In the mean time, children will continue to come to Crompton Park to play on dilapidated equipment and perhaps wish for a ride on a swing that may of may not ever appear.
By Jack Hoffman
The first time, and only time, I went to a basketball game at the new Boston Garden- excuse me, Bank North Center – it was a complete culture shock. On every empty space of the venue was an ad for, you name it. But what impressed me the most was this massive electronic scoreboard high above the rafters covered with more ads than information about the game that was being played. The ads were so prominent I wasn’t sure if McDonalds was playing Dunkin Donuts!
Watch a baseball game, hockey or basketball game – you name it. On every pitch everywhere the puck is and wrapped around the scorers’ table an ad flashes for, once again, you name the product.
The Patriots have even scrimmaged with Reebok plastered on their practice shirts. How about those drivers who continuously drive around a circle at speeds up to 200 mph in a car painted with one of your famous consumer products and an advertiser who spends literally millions of dollars to see their name stitched on the drivers’ clothing. We are so influenced by consumer imagery we just about forget what we are paying hundreds of dollars to watch – a sporting event.
Advertising, or shall we say image making, has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Check out Go Daddy a subscription service for going online. Their product is being sold by 6-foot-tall blonds with cleavage that could be easily attributed to the local plastic surgeon.
Beer commercials that play on the boys’ libido with once again blonds on a beach with pronounced cleavage. How about the Cadillac that can go 190 mph without the wipers being blown away? Wait a minute! How many cars are traveling at 190 MPH?
Advertisers, networks and all the rest that sell lots of this crap have gotten so bad they have bastardized the actual event, the movie we want to watch, the news we try to absorb and more. Oh, let’s not forget Janet Jackson’s nipples. I still want to meet someone who actually saw that nipple. And you still think that was a wardrobe challenge? If some of these advertises are playing on your libido I suggest tuning into HBO after 10 PM.
A local news show that can’t wait to see some victim crying and hear the buxom newscaster ask just how do you feel? See how many blonds will Fox “News” use? Well, wait until 6:24 p.m. and if you like watching commercials they run 4 minutes straight of your favorite products. I timed a 4-minute segment and 75% of the commercials were for cars. So much driving on a test track I can’t remember one car advertiser from another.
Image is so important to some advertisers that Staples bought the naming rights to the new sports center in LA for $100 million for 15 years. Is it really worth it?
Now we go to a movie and arrive just in time to be greeted by a slew of commercials and coming attractions that consume 15 to 18 minutes of get ‘em up aliens and some more stupid animations. This is not a kiddy audience or a kiddy movie we paid 10 bucks to see.
Just a friendly tip: arrive 15 minutes after the scheduled start time.
Isn’t it interesting that the best news network or the most informative programs are the ones on PBS and on the radio at NPR? Problem is so much private funding is needed to keep these gems on the air/airwaves we are now being bombarded with “pledge week” that once lasted a week to the now almost once every month.
Would I rather pay $40 per month and watch all the movies I want or an extra $15 per month to watch important sporting events? I joked when Disney 10 years ago paid $1 billion for ESPN. I asked: How much fly fishing can we watch? Well, in any case I wish I could pay a couple of bucks extra to watch a pawn shop show or some dangerous occupation like catching crabs in snow storms without being interrupted by an ad for some other action show.
The question is: Will we the audience be willing to pay extra money to be entertained without being pitched some product/service we don’t really need?
By Richard Schmitt
When critics call President Barack Obama’s health reform plans “socialist” they often worry about the overwhelming power of government. The federal government is very powerful; the worry is justified. But if the same people then go on to say that health care should be in the hands of private business, they forget that private business also is often very large and even more powerful than the Feds.
Do you remember that we had to shell out almost a trillion dollars in tax money only last year to save the largest insurance company in the world, as well as Bank of America and other banks because they are “too big to fail”? Continue reading Is bigger better?
By Richard Schmitt
Everyone knows that money is very important.
Everyone equally believes that “money does not buy happiness.”
But many people, including many “important” people, do not understand that however important money is, a lot of things are much more important.
Take love. Continue reading Education and money
By Rosalie Tirella
Let’s see: the city is cash strapped, the state is cash strapped (until the new MA state sales tax kicks in!) and the country is searching for the bootstraps it needs to pull itself out of this financial hell hole. What better time for Worcester City Clerk David Rushford to add as much as $95,000 to his base salary of $131,000!
Meet David Rushford – Worcester’s Marrying Man. This Sunday we learned that Rushford, who is already closing the Worcester City Clerk’s office a couple of hours earlier than 5 p.m (creating banking hours for himself and his staff while still collecting the same pay check) has been making some serious side money ON CITY TIME and CITY PROPERTY marrying people. He won’t say how much he charges, but thanks to yet another whacky Massachusetts law, Rushford, or any city/town clerk in Massachusetts can charge $50 – $95 every time he/she officially marries a couple.
You would think that the fee would go to the city or town. After all, the momentous event is happening in a city or town hall. It is being performed by a city/town clerk who is working at his city/town job in a city/town hall (thus collecting his/her city/town pay check). You would think with all the whining David Rushford has done about losing a few city clerks and not being able to perform all his work with the staff he’s got, that he would be tickled pink if marrying people meant more moeny for the City of Worcester. Maybe then City Manager Mike O’Brien could rehire some of Rushford’s city clerks he laid off earlier.
Nope. The dough goes to the city/town clerk doing the marrying.
Last year, Rushford married 950 couples. Do the math: 950 x $100 = $95,000!
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS STATE?! HOW NUTTY CAN WE GO? WE (City of Worcester) LAY OFF CITY NURSES AND TEACHERS AND PARKS PEOPLE AND STILL ALLOW RUSHFORD TO MAKE AS MUCH AS $95,000. WHY DON’T THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN WORCESTER GET RIGHTEOUSLY PISSED AND WORK TO HAVE THIS ARCANE STATE LAW CHANGED SO THAT THE MONEY GOES TO THE CITY OF WORCESTER? Not our city clerk who lives in an amazingly huge mansion on Mass Ave – for being little more than a glorified secretary.
Here’s hoping city councilors do something productive during their two summer meetings. Let’s have them petition the state to rescind the law or at least pass some local ordinance that allows the City of Worcester to collect – and KEEP – the fee.
$95,000 could go to Worcester’s parks, city pools – city kids. It could go towards public health, AIDS awareness.
It amazes me to see how Blow Mag and many city pols just seem to enable/excuse this bad behavior. Why? Because they know Rushford. Because they are all in the same boys club, standing in the same swill.