On the News With Thom Hartmann: Romney Has Avoided Paying Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Taxes Through Some Creative Accounting Practices, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Mitt Romney has avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes through some creative accounting practices; Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in court facing allegations that his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is guilty of racial profiling; the Spanish parliament passed an $80 billion austerity package; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Twelve people are dead and nearly 40 wounded after a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theatre in Colorado late Thursday night. Moviegoers were attending the premiere of the new Batman movie, when a 24-year- old gun enthusiast walked in with tear gas, a rifle, a shotgun, and two hand guns, and opened fire. Holmes is in police custody. This is the largest mass shooting since 32 people were killed during the Virginia Tech massacre. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – there have been hundreds of mass shootings in the U.S. since 2005 – averaging roughly 20 every year. And yet, there’s absolutely no talk of gun control in America. The irony of all ironies – Republicans are making it harder for Americans to vote, with new voter suppression ID laws, as if voting was something really, really dangerous and we need to double- and triple-check every voter’s identity. Yet, Republicans won’t budge on making it just a little harder for Americans to buy guns, despite dozens of mass shootings every year.

In screwed news…wealth inequality in America is reaching new heights. On the heels of a new report this week showing that the six Wal Mart heirs now own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans combined, another report brings more bad news about wealth inequality. The Congressional Research Service released information showing that the bottom 50% of the nation – half of all Americans – only own just 1% of the nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, the richest 1% – the Mitt Romney’s of America – own more than a third of the entire nation’s wealth. Over the last two decades – 90% of Americans have seen their share of wealth decrease, while the top 10% have seen gains. The conclusion: trickle-down economics has never worked, isn’t working now, and won’t work in the future. All trickle-down economics does is turn America into a nation of peons. Time to roll back the Reagan tax cuts!

In the best of the rest of the news…

Mitt Romney has avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes through some creative accounting practices. As the Huffington Post reports, Romney received more than $170,000 in stock after his company, Bain Capital, took over Sensata Technologies – a manufacturing company in Illinois. Sensata has been in the news recently because it plans to lay off 170 workers in November, when it moves its last remaining American plant to China – a decision made by Bain Capital. But Romney got HIS money – and rather than paying taxes on it, he transferred the $170,000 to a non-profit entity that he created known as the Tyler Charitable Foundation. In doing so, Romney avoided $25,000 in capital gains taxes and was able to trim $50,000 off his tax bill by deducting his so-called charitable contribution. Romney did a similar move in 2010, when he transferred $1.3 million in stock from Domino’s Pizza to the same non-profit – cutting $600,000 off his tax bill. According to IRS law, Romney’s charity – which has assets of $10 million – must spend 5% of its assets each year to maintain tax- exempt status. Over the past few years, Romney has done the bare minimum to meet that threshold – distributing nearly 8% to charity – mostly to the Mormon Church. Romney’s not doing anything illegal here, but it shows that the man is willing to do whatever it takes to avoid investing back in the nation that made him so rich. And it’s more evidence that Romney needs to release his tax returns so the people can see what else he’s been doing with his money and what other taxes he’s been avoiding.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in court this week facing allegations that his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is guilty of racial profiling and violating the civil rights of Latinos. The ACLU is representing plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Arpaio, and argues that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office practices “discriminate on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and have resulted in prolonged traffic stops and baseless extended detentions, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In its zeal to rid the community of persons that it believes are undocumented immigrants, MCSO has violated the civil rights of countless U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.” Arpaio likes to call himself “America’s Sheriff” – but with hundreds of incidents of discrimination on the record, including ignoring sex crimes involving Latino women and children – he’s ACTUALLY America’s most racist sheriff.

Across the Atlantic, banksters are being forced Spain’s workers to swallow the poison pill of austerity. On Thursday – the Spanish parliament passed an $80 billion austerity package – the largest in that nation’s history – which includes pay cuts and layoffs of public workers, cuts to benefits, an increase in the regressive sales tax, and a hike in the retirement age. At the same time – Spain is poised to receive a $122 billion bailout for its banksters. Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets to protest the austerity package in more than 80 cities across the nation. They’re learning what the Greeks people now know – that austerity destroys the lives of working people wherever it’s passed.

And finally…getting completely naked at the airport is protected free speech. So says a judge in Oregon who ruled in favor of John Brennan – the man who stripped off all his clothes while waiting in the airport screening line at Portland International Airport back in April. Brennan said he decided to go completely nude to protest the TSA invasive pat downs and screening measures, and Judge David Rees agreed, saying that getting naked as an act of protest is protected under the First Amendment. So, unlimited corporate spending in our elections is protected as free speech, and so is getting naked in the airport. Stay tuned for a slew of new, risqué SuperPAC ads this summer.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, July 20, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.