Earlier this week Elizabeth Warren was asked by the Boston Globe a seemingly simple and straightforward question about her taxes: In 2011, did she pay the 5.85% rate (which is voluntary) on her Massachusetts state tax form? Since 2001, as I explained in a previous post, residents of the Commonwealth have had the option – if they so choose – to pay a higher tax rate than the 5.3% minimum. And since the former consumer advocate raked in more than $700,000 last year, the Globe believed their inquiry was an appropriate and reasonable one. At the time, however, she refused to answer the question and though I was quick to criticize her silence, I acknowledged that it was still possible she paid the top rate. Unsurprisingly – according to the Brown campaign – it’s clear she did not.
After avoiding the question all week, Elizabeth Warren finally confirmed today that she did not pay the higher 5.85% rate on her state tax form, a legal option available for Massachusetts taxpayers who believe they should pay more.
For the last few weeks, Warren has lectured others about their moral responsibility to pay higher taxes. In 2011, Warren earned more than $716,000, and has a net worth of as much as $14.5 million.
“The problem with running a campaign based on self-righteousness and moral superiority is that you had better live up to the same standard you would impose on everyone else,” said Jim Barnett, Campaign Manager for Scott Brown. “Millionaire Warren lectures others about their obligation and responsibility to pay higher taxes, but she refuses to pay the optional higher rate available in Massachusetts. This is the sort of hypocrisy and double-speak voters are sick and tired of hearing from politicians, especially those who can’t keep their hands out of others’ pocketbooks.”
To be sure, I’ve written a number of posts on Elizabeth Warren’s hypocrisy and duplicity before, but this is almost too good to be true. In short, her innocuous decision to pay a lower tax rate in Massachusetts – when she had the option to pay a higher one -- seems to vindicate my longstanding belief that all people (even liberal Harvard professors), want to keep a larger percentage of their annual income.
More importantly, what makes these startling revelations particularly painful for Democrats is that Elizabeth Warren has been on the campaign trail for months demonizing the wealthy (“there is nobody in this country who got rich on their own,” she once said) and castigating top income earners. In other words, how are Massachusetts voters, in the last analysis, supposed to take a Senate candidate seriously when she clearly doesn’t practice what she preaches? At a time when Americans are growing increasingly tired of the partisan gridlock in Washington, why on earth would we want to replace one of the most moderate, bipartisan lawmakers in the Senate with a shameless demagogue? Of course, virtually every poll in America shows the warring candidates locked in a dead heat. And it’s certainly possible that Scott Brown might lose his reelection campaign. Still, as voters become more familiar with Elizabeth Warren’s hypocrisy, I’m confident they’ll be less inclined to vote for her in November.