[plus commentary from Ed Stein]
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Nick Carraway observes that “the rich are different from you and me.” Mitt Romney’s tax returns confirm it. The rich have access to deductions, evasions, loopholes and favorable rates we working stiffs can only dream of. The absurd truth is that the wages earned by those of us who get paychecks from employers are taxed at the highest rate of any income. The lucky stiffs who run hedge funds and private equity firms get to take income as carried interest, whatever that means. In tax terms, it means they get to make lots of money for investing other people’s money and have it taxed at obscenely low rates compared to what we working stiffs pay. Then there are the Cayman Islands accounts and Swiss banks. Show of hands, please. How many of you have Swiss bank accounts? I don’t resent wealth; like most Americans, I aspire to it. What I deeply resent is a political system that jiggers tax law to favor the rich over the rest of us, feeding the income inequality that destroys opportunity and stagnates growth. The wealth disparity in America already rivals that of many Third World countries and our storied social mobility is rapidly becoming a fondly remembered relic of bygone days.