Larry Elder

Forgive Republican candidate Mitt Romney for his alleged failure to adequately explain why he paid "only" 14 percent of his income in taxes.

The honest answer -- "Well, because my accountants couldn't figure out how to get them any lower" -- does not work in this or very many other election years. Romney seemed flat-footed because, like most business people, he seeks to minimize costs and expenses.

This includes taxes.

A normal wealthy-and-proud-of-it guy would have said: "Let me get this straight, pal. I'm not supposed to take every legal advantage provided me by the tax laws to reduce my taxes?" For what it's worth, about 15 percent of Romney's last two years of income went to charity -- substantially higher than the percentage given by the Obamas or Joe Biden's $380 (not a typo) of his quarter-million dollar income in 2006.

"Tax savings" allows people more money to save, spend, invest, bequeath and donate. On some level, even Democrats understand this.

Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is one of them. In 2001, Massachusetts lowered it state income tax rate. But the legislature showed mercy for the Bay State's guilt-ridden, tax-hike-supporting liberals. The tax form allowed the filer to check a special box -- and pay the old, higher rate. Out of more than 3 million tax filers in 2004, a tiny fraction of 1 percent -- 930 taxpayers -- volunteered to pay the higher rate. Among those who declined the opportunity was Mr. Frank. Frank explained, "I don't trust the legislative leadership and Gov. (Mitt) Romney to make the right decisions." Instead, Frank said, "I'll donate the money myself." What?! Charity might better spend money than can government, which, by its nature, operates less efficiently and more expensively than can private welfare?

Democrat Sen. Howard Metzenbaum from Ohio (served 1974, 1976-1995) was another tax-supporting Democrat not too keen on paying more in taxes than he needed to. But after retirement, the wealthy Metzenbaum moved to Florida, which, unlike Ohio, is a state with no estate or personal income taxes. This saved him millions.

Democrat John Edwards' wife Elizabeth, during the 2004 campaign, said rich politicians like her husband reveal "character" when they vote against financial "interest" by supporting higher taxes. This is the same John Edwards who, as a trial lawyer winning big jury awards, established a separate sub-corporation to accept the money, paying him through dividends rather than income. Perfectly legal. But this allowed Edwards to avoid some $600K in Medicare payroll taxes.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.