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Why Does Mitt Cheat His Country But Not His Church?

As tax day approaches, the presidential campaign has looked like this: 1) Buffet rule. 2) Mitt’s taxes 3) Who gives to charity.

In an attempt to shift focus away from Mitt’s efforts to make sure other rich people like him don’t have to pay taxes, John Sununu suggested that Obama and Biden don’t give enough to charity.

When Joe Biden went to New Hampshire on Thursday to attack Mitt Romney’s tax proposals, the Romney campaign greeted Biden by attacking President Barack Obama’s charitable giving rate. On a campaign conference call with reporters, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a Romney backer, said the following:

In their own private lives, it would be nice to see some contributions to charity that are significant out of President Obama and Joe Biden. I think it is an interesting contrast to make with the presidential candidate the Republicans have now put together a nomination for, that is Mitt Romney, former Governor Romney, who gave almost 15% of his income last year to charity.

In response, the White House has released the Obamas’ taxes, showing they donated 22% of their income, a higher percentage than they paid in taxes.

I expect we’ll dwell on this for a while, but the entire tax versus charity debate ignores one thing: 10% of Mitt’s money, by Mormon Church rule, goes to the Church. The only debate (and it is a big debate in some quarters) is whether that 10% is pre- or post-tax. So when Sununu boasts that 15% of Mitt’s income goes to charity, what he really means is Mitt gives 5% after paying the amount required to pay by his Church.

All that got me thinking. Why is it that Mitt cheats his country but not his Church? Read more

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.