Mitt and His Buddies Looted Almost $10 Trillion from Real Economy

The Tax Justice Network just released an updated version of a report showing how much money gets siphoned out of the real economy into tax shelters: conservatively, $21 Trillion, and possibly as much as $32 Trillion.

I’ll have more to say about what the report says about the how the super wealthy have done in the last decade and which banks have been helping to loot the real economy.

But for now, consider where Mitt Romney fits into this picture. TJN shows that it’s really just the richest of the rich–those 91,186 people who make up the top .001%–that account for the biggest chunk ($9.8 Trillion) of this looting.

Not only is Mitt a member of that tiny club. But his net worth–commonly reported to be $250 Million but, given all the secrecy, possibly much more–puts him well above the mean $183 Million that members of this club enjoy.

And Mitt and his buddies in this very elite club have stashed 18% of the total liquid net worth of the world in places where not only can’t potential presidential voters know about it, but it also remains outside the kind of circulation that would really contribute to real economic growth.

Last week, Obama released an ad that said Mitt is the problem. TJN shows just what a big problem Mitt and his buddies really are.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

14 replies
  1. Jim Oberly says:

    @masaccio: Yes, especially other people’s money, as much as 40 parts other people’s money and one part Bain money.
    Remember Romney took time away from the Winter Olympics in July 1999 to praise of some Bain-men about their expertise with “mezzanine financing” at Bain’s Sankaty Advisors <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/13/1109623/-Bain-Capital-press-release-described-Romney-as-part-time-in-July-1999. If I understand this correctly, Sankaty was leveraged with high-yield (“junk”) funding at a 40-1 ratio on some investments.

  2. Roman Berry says:

    Is what Romney and others in this .001 percent doing with their taxes to take advantage of these loopholes and shelters legal under our tax code? If so, then instead of addressing this as a partisan issue for whopping Romney upside the head, shouldn’t the target be both the Republicans and the Democrats who wrote the tax code that makes these things legal?

    I repeatedly refer people to David Cay Johnston’s book of several years ago, “Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else.” Johnston should be familiar to many as he’s a former reporter on tax and finance for the NYT and remains a pretty regular presence on news outlets and blogs in stories dealing with the US government and the political parties concerning these issues. Anyway, Johnston makes a strong case that the perversion of our tax system with its myriad loopholes and shelters has been a fully bipartisan endeavor, and the case he makes is solid.

    Romney takes advantages of the law. Does Warren Buffet? Did Steve Jobs?

    I’m not defending Romney. I’m attacking the tax code. The tax code is the actual issue. Unfortunately, with both major parties in thrall to wealth, I doubt seriously that we will see that tax code fundamentally changed regardless of who is elected. After all, the first two years of the Obama admin with strong Democratic majorities in both houses of congress saw essentially zero change to the tax code to end these myriad loopholes and shelters.

    For me, I’m just past the point where pointing and saying accusatorily “Them! They! Him!” makes any real sense.

    Romney takes advantage of the tax law. That makes the problem the law.

  3. Connect The Dots says:

    is there any connection between the 3 piece suited Terrorists siphoning off TRILLIONS and TRILLIONS of $$$$ and this factoid????

    USA poverty to rise to highest since 1960s

    The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

    Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, where Americans are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

    http://news.yahoo.com/us-poverty-track-rise-highest-since-1960s-112946547–finance.html

  4. P J Evans says:

    @Roman Berry:
    It’s more than that. Rmoney not only took advantage of every available loophole, including overseas tax havens; he also thinks that that’s the norm, and also that the 99% of us who don’t do that deserve to pay at higher marginal tax rates.

    Rmoney is so privileged that he doesn’t even connect to reality any more.

  5. emptywheel says:

    @Roman Berry: First, we don’t know whether Mitt abided by the law. In addition to the details that suggest his UBS account may not have been declared prior to the amnesty, tax experts have suggested that both his $102M IRA and some of his other shelters really do push the limits of what is legal.

    So until we have the tax returns, we frankly don’t know whether he took advantage of the tax law or abused it.

    Otherwise, yes, I agree, there is bipartisan support among the elite for this. But it’s one thing to support it, and another thing to run for President of the country you’ve cheated in spirit for decades. I mean, even TurboTax Timmeh, who is a poster child for small-scale tax fraud (and I said his TurboTax scandal should have disqualified him at the time) does not himself do the kind of looting that Mitt has made his life’s work.

    Now maybe Teresa Heinz Kerry’s tax doings are similar–though unlike Ann Romney (in whose names Mitt’s shelters are now hidden) her money didn’t come from Kerry–but Mitt is from start to finish a poster child for the looting of America.

    Both sides may be at fault–I agree–but if we miss the opportunity to use a poster child like Mitt as a teaching opportunity, we’re blithering idiots.

  6. ondelette says:

    @emptywheel: Hey! Are you trying to say Ann Romney didn’t earn that money? She worked hard raising those children. Most people get paid that much for raising children, don’t they?

  7. emptywheel says:

    @ondelette: Right, the $100M nanny.

    Actually, was making slightly different point, in that we can make a very clear argument that Mitt is hiding HIS OWN cash and actions behind Ann. Kerry clearly wasn’t doing that bc Teresa’s money didn’t come from him. In same way, there was appropriately very little discussion of how Cindy McCain made her–their–money bc McCain had nothing to do with it.

  8. BSbafflesbrains says:

    The meme that Big Government is the problem is being supplanted with Big Business is the problem in most all discussions I read and hear these days. This gives hope to the 99% and I believe OWS has much to take credit for in this change. Even some of the uber wealthy must see the truth of this now. “No matter how far down the wrong road you have traveled, turn back.” Old Turkish Proverb

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    Gretchen Morgenson wrote about the 1-1/2 years as Inspector General for Troubled Assets Relief Plan of Neil Barofsky in the New York Times, yesterday.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/business/neil-barofskys-journey-into-a-bailout-buzz-saw-fair-game.html?pagewanted=all

    Evidently the NYT article precedes by 2 days publication of Barofsky’s book. The quotes from Morgenson and Barofsky, however, appear not to cover the world of private capital, centrally.

    Footnote: McCaffrey may like the part of the article about three kinds of dogs; watch dog, lap dog, junk yard dog; though it’s written for the lay ‘person’.

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