CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 21, 2012
September 21st, 2012
04:50 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 21, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 21, 2012 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: ROMNEY RELEASES 2011 TAXES, PAID A RATE OF 14.1% Mitt Romney made $13.7 million last year and paid $1.94 million in federal income taxes, giving him an effective tax rate of 14.1%, his campaign said Friday. Romney and his wife, Ann, gave just over $4 million to charity. His effective tax rate was up slightly from the 13.9% rate he paid in 2010. The majority of the candidate's income came from his investments, Brad Malt, a lawyer who presides over Romney's blind trust, said in a blog post. In addition, the Romney campaign said Romney's tax filings from 1990 to 2009 show that the couple paid 100% of the federal and state income taxes they owed and that their overall average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.2%. Annually they never paid an effective rate below 13.66%. – Jeanne Sahadi

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
What was the most recent time that the United States has had three presidents in one year?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

As students of the news cycle, we know timing is everything - especially when it comes to the “art of the leak.” This week shows how effective a fall surprise can be, whether it be the stolen debate tapes of the 2000 campaign or the secret fundraiser footage mocking the 47% of 2012.

As we watched the news vacuum explode around Romney’s comments, we were struck to see how much more traction the message separating our country into warring halves had than the movement of the 99% whose anniversary was marked on Monday with little fanfare.

Indeed, a year ago, as the Occupy Wall Street protests mounted, it gripped the headlines and introduced myriad new terms into the political dialect, namely the “1%” and the “99%,” as well as disrupting traffic patterns in Washington and New York. All week, we kept asking the same question, “What happened?”

The force that had energy and press coverage, especially from the influential New York Times, seemed to be nonexistent at the political conventions.

When asked if the Occupy movement was a success or a failure, Gene Sharp, founder of the Albert Einstein Institution and expert on political movements, said, “It hasn’t changed politics. It hasn’t changed the economy. But it shouldn’t be expected to do something that is impossible. You can’t change the distribution of wealth in the economy, or make those politics more democratic, simply by a demonstration – which is purely symbolic.

We also feel that the message of the 99% assumes near unity, which doesn’t exist in this polarized political year, whereas the 47% is a more apt metaphor for a country where polls quite regularly fall along the 47% national, political split. The Mitt Romney metaphor is also more apt for a campaign that truly is about the size and role of government, or as we have written numerous times, about the tug-of-war between economic freedom and political fairness.

Nonetheless, while the secret tapes will have a bigger effect on the presidential election, the 99% might re-emerge post-election and have more staying power, said Stephen Zunes, editor of “Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective,” who wrote an op-ed this week saying the Occupy movement “fizzled” but was a success in moving the political narrative into its court, pushing President Obama to address income inequality and tax policies.

“My guess is that since the 47% figure was rather arbitrary and Romney’s categorization of that 47% was inaccurate on a number of levels, few people will want to embrace it in terms of an identity,” Zunes said, “However, since the film clip so dramatically reinforces the Obama campaign’s effort to portray Romney as the quintessential example of the 1%, my guess is that his comments and related matters it raised will continue to be part of the debate leading up to the election.”

“In the longer run, I believe that a populist economic message that emphasizes the enormous economic inequality in the United States, the unfair tax code and the overbearing political influence of power corporations and wealthy individuals will have staying power. Outside of the glare of election year partisanship, then, I do expect many of the issues raised in the Occupy protests to come to prominence in the not-too-distant future.”

As for now, that future is many news cycles away, as conservative commentator and CNN contributor Mary Matalin best exhibited in an interview with CNN on Tuesday when she said that Romney should double down on his remarks because the world is divided between “makers and takers, producers and parasites.

Those are fighting words. And this campaign year is more about a fight than a movement.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Obama, Ryan trade charges on health care and Medicare
President Barack Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Friday traded sharp criticism over health care reforms and Medicare, with each telling a leading advocacy group for senior citizens that the other was being untruthful. – Tom Cohen

Leading Drudge: 100 days to go until largest tax hikes in history
Sunday will mark the start of the 100-day countdown to “Taxmageddon” – the date the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1. – From Americans For Tax Reform

Leading HuffPo: Happy Now?
Mitt Romney has released his tax returns for 2011. Ahead of the disclosure, aides indicated that the Republican presidential contender earned nearly $13.7 million last year and paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, amounting to more than $1.9 million in taxes.

Leading Politico: President Obama changes 'Change'
So much for the bright, bold colors of hope and change. President Barack Obama admitted Thursday that his re-election campaign is more about gritty American realism. The response from Democrats: About time you came around. – Edward-Isaac Dovere and Darren Samuelsohn

Leading The New York Times: Before debates, Romney faces a daunting path
There are seven days until early voting begins in Iowa, less than two weeks until the first debate and 46 days left in the race for Mitt Romney to change the dynamic of a campaign that by many indicators is tilting against him. That, advisers to President Barack Obama acknowledge, is plenty of time. – Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg

TRAIL MOMENTS
The political bites of the day

– Obama addresses ‘change from the inside’ comments, pivots to Romney attack –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “Yesterday I made this same point at a town hall in Florida. I said one thing I have learned is that you can’t change Washington just from the inside… Now, for some reason my opponent got really excited. He rewrote his speech really quick. He stood up at a rally and proudly declared ‘I’ll get the job done from the inside.’ What kind of inside job is he talking about? Is it the job of rubber stamping the top-down, you are on your own agenda of this Republican Congress? Because if it is we don’t want it. If it is the job of letting oil companies write our energy policy, we don’t want it. If it’s the job of outsourcing writing our tax code, we don’t want it.”

– Clinton: ‘What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack’ –
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON AT AN EVENT WITH THE PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: “What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans. And we are taking aggressive measures at all of our posts to protect our staffs and their families along with locally employed people who provide so many important contributions to the work of our missions.”

– The man who brought us 9-9-9 says he would have a ‘substantial lead’ over Obama (because of his depth) –
HERMAN CAIN IN AN EVENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, ACCORDING TO THE GAINESVILLE SUN: “The reason is quite simple: I have some depth to my ideas… Stupid people are ruining America, and we've got to take it back.”

– Bill Clinton on Romney, taxes and voter suppression –
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S FAREED ZAKARIA…
On Romney’s 47% comments: “Do I think there are some Americans who are trapped in a cycle of dependency? Yes, I think that is a problem. That's why I supported welfare reform, to change it from an entitlement system to a work-based system, to an empowerment system. But the money we spend is not out of line with other advanced countries. In fact, we spend a smaller percent of our GDP than almost any other country. And the 47%, those that are adults, they do pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay Medicare taxes. They pay state and local taxes.”

Clinton on voting: “How much will the vote be lessened or reduced by the fact that in Florida, except for four counties, the pre-election voting, the advanced voting, has been cut down to eight days and doesn't include the Sunday before the election, which is an arrow aimed straight at the heart of the African-American churches who pull up the church buses on the Sunday before the election and take elderly people who have no cars or people who are disabled to the polls so they can vote? How much is all that going to affect the turnout? I've never in my lifetime - nobody has ever done anything quite this blatant.”

Gut Check DVR: FAREED ZAKARIA GPS – Airs on Sunday from 10:00AM – 11:00AM and 1:00PM – 2:00PM.

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Gut Check Flashback: In July, Harry Reid claimed a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney 'didn't pay any taxes for 10 years'… Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has what he says is an informed explanation for why Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns. According to a Bain investor, Reid charged, Romney didn't pay any taxes for 10 years. – Sam Stein and Ryan Grim

TRIVIA ANSWER

1881: three presidents, one year.

In March of that year, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ended his term as president and James Garfield, a close political ally to Hayes, became the 20th president.

Garfield’s term, however, was cut short when he was shot by Charles Guiteau only four months after he was inaugurated. With substantial wounds to his abdomen and back, Garfield struggled to stay alive during the summer of 1881 and died on September 19.

The next day, Vice President Chester Arthur was sworn in, making him the third president in a year.

Had this happened before? Yes.

In 1841, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were all president. Harrison died on his 32 day in office.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)

It may have taken two chances – and a little help from Gut Check – but Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) correctly answered today’s Gut Check trivia question.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Harry Reid: A little bird told me Mittens paid no taxes.

    Mittens: Oh yeah!?!?!? Well, here's my elaborate end-run around producing the best evidence that would prove you wrong, i.e., the tax returns themselves!!!!

    Reid 1: Mittens 0

    September 21, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. A Desperate Situation

    Romney has 3 years to amend his tax returns and will do so after he loses the election. He will get a refund for his overpayment. He overpaid for 2011 so his percentage is over 10% and it looks like he is actually paying something. Doesn't fool most of us because we all know Romney is the deadbeat.

    September 21, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    BTW, head of GOP in Alabama just publicly subscribed to the conspiracy theory that Obama's grandfather was a CIA agent who convinced Obama's father to marry his teenaged daughter (Obama's mom) because she'd been secretly knocked up by a communist.

    Makes you wonder whether you're supopsed to laugh, cry, rage or jump off the nearest bridge. The GOP is just freekin pitiful at this point. Get therapy, guys...seriously.

    September 21, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. CBR

    The math does not add up in this article. This is hearsay again since the remaining tax records have never been seen. I would think that the CPA would want to display it all. The reputation of the firm doing the taxes is on the line. That is so unfair – just because Mr. Romney has something in his tax release that the citizen might question. Unfortunately, Mr. Romney will never back down ever. That trait would definitely cause problems for him as president. You need to show some flexibility and know when to address and issue and why. His stubborn streak is on display. His desire to be correct at all costs does leaves very little room for advisers and his cabinet to get his concurrence on issues.

    September 21, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Borderless

    Effective Tax Rate takes into account deductions, such as Mitt Romney's 4 million (30%) of his income to charities. CNN conveniently leaves that part out of the headline. For those who falsely claim they make below 30,000 per year and pay higher taxes, there are two things you need to face. For one, you pay little or no taxes because you get most of it back as a tax return. For another, how many people give 30% of their income to charity? Very, very few. Certainly not the Obamas.

    September 21, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. A Desperate Situation

    @Borderless aka Borderline: Romney only gives to The Mormon Church. I will bet you $10,000 this is the first time he has given 30% to charity. Have a Blessed weekend.

    September 21, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "For those who falsely claim they make below 30,000 per year and pay higher taxes, there are two things you need to face.'

    There are two thigns YOU need to face:

    1. Even assuming Mittens' 2011 taxes are just peachy, he's flying in the face of his own father's statements that you release many years of tax returns because the year or two prior to a campaign might as well not countt because the candidate probably did his taxes specifically to make them look nice.

    2. Mittens' failure to release the actual returns and instead engage in a smoke-and-mirrors game with the notarized statements and high-paid attorney blabbering about it has not solved his problem. It has made it worse. He looks weak, cowardly and dishonest by trying to appear like he's releasing everything while really just to hide the ball.

    September 21, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    Mitt is a total FRAUD of tax, Medicare, immigration, job shipping. Etc.,

    September 21, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. geggyg

    @borderless
    A lot of people would like to give 30% of their income to charity , but they dont have the disposable income to do so, they like to pay their taxes , put a roof over their head , feed the family educate the children. If someone earns a gross income of say $50, 000, out of that you pay taxes , mortgage or rent , utilities, insurance , pay for food , pay for transport either car, petrol, or public transport , educate your children if you have them , health insurance if you need to pay for it ,save for retirement, buy some clothes occassionally plus other costs eg pets, a short holiday etc . Not many people would have $15,000 left overto give to charities. People on lower incomes have an even harder task making ends meet.

    September 21, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. Nancy Sartell

    It's nice to know what Bill Clinton thinks – what does President Obama think?

    September 21, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. Borderless

    A year ago the Occupy movement was completely overblown by the media. Most Americans saw it as little more than an annoyance. They were unfocused, disorganized and at times absolutely silly (remember Atlanta?). Today, it has gone the way of the Coffee Party. (Who? Exactly.) The problem is the media, CNN included, have a tendency to try to amplify a story if it falls in line with their own ideology.

    September 22, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  12. krehator

    There is a percentage of people who refuse to take care of themselves and live off the system. I TOTALLY agree. Seen it for myself. I lived in that atmosphere as a child until I escaped it and decided to be something better.

    HOWEVER, it is not 47% or even close to that. For Mit to say what he said is pure ignorance, and demonstrates just how much hatred, arrogance, and exclusion has taken over in the GOP. The current GOP is full of horrible people, and the rest just refuse to realize it because they have no other party to feel part of.

    He knew exactly what he was saying, and he knew it was what those people wanted to hear because they are elitists who think they are royalty. No, Mit, you were not speaking "off the cuff". You were speaking your heart. A cold, black, and ignorant heart that has been infected by greed. You lost votes, and you deserve it.

    No REAL Republican with REAL Christian moral values could defend what he said. Anyone that does is a fake fake fake!

    I would rather not vote at all than to give this man my vote. That does not mean I will vote for Obama, but I will NOT give him a vote by default.

    September 22, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  13. on StreetWise

    Want to put the 47%'ers in perspective? The righteous care about justice for the poor; but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29:7... (Mitt; "I'm not concerned with the poor")

    And Governor George Romney was the first president campaigner ever to offer and open up his U.S. Tax Returns Released... Mitt's father made 12 years of complete tax returns available when he ran for the office of president in 1967. To Date; “Romoney” has released only one incomplete year tax return in his last year's return, it wasn't the full report with most of the important finance data (redacted) blacked out. If you have nothing to hide, show you tax returns… NOW!

    Romney’s response; “I don't plan to release my tax returns, and I take every legal deduction, tax shelter and off-shore accounts I can use" “The average voter doesn’t understand the complexities” "We've given all you people you need to know. I've said all that I want to say on the issue, the average voter doesn't understand all the complexities"… (That’s Mittins code talk for cover-up)

    Every person with enough money that, as $Romney$ has, knows that he has a Time Machine... That all he has to do is just hit the magic "Reactive' button... I sad his "Reactive" button... Anyone with a "Reactive" button can change the goal line, change the rules, or the side of the mouth, with the flip of a switch. Mittens is the supreme "Flipflip" man of the year, a persona with the strength to say anything, do anything or claim anything that people will swallow anything from the stupid public... except those with a brain. Are you listing to this man? He could be the next leader on the WORLD!

    September 22, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. pjoe

    This race is boring. Boring. Boring. Yawnnnnnnnn!

    September 22, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. fryuujin

    basically everyone is dependent upon government for health care, fire, police, water, wastewater, roads, national defense, airports, and list goes on a mile long. There aren't 47% mooching it is 100%, and then there are those getting more than 100%, like Mitt – he can pay for his own armed guards and move to where he hides his loot – who needs this POS.

    September 22, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |