Mitt Romney Doesn't Have George Washington Money


© Rick Friedman/Corbis

After weathering several weeks of pressure from his Republican rivals, Mitt Romney released his tax returns early this morning, revealing that he made $45 million over 2010 and 2011, and he'll pay 14 or 15 percent of that in taxes.

That may seem like a lot—a $6.2 million dollar check to the IRS is enough to make the average American blush—until you look at Romney’s chief opponent, Newt Gingrich, who raked in $3.2 million in 2010, but clocked in at a 31.7 percent tax rate. The truth is, neither candidate is likely to get a whole lot of sympathy from voters. The annual median income in the U.S. last year was, after all, just a touch above $26,000.

But either way, voters can expect Gingrich (net worth: $6.7 million) to portray Romney (net worth: $250-$270 million, putting him in the top .001 percent of Americans) as an out-of-touch elitist.

Much as the Republican candidates portrayed John Kerry (net worth: $240 million) and Barack Obama (net worth: $5 million) as out-of-touch elitists in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

Money in Politics

According to an analysis by 24/7 Wall Street, a handful of US presidents were multi-millionaires, while another handful went bankrupt. When Abe Lincoln died, he owned little more than his single-family home in Illinois. When Herbert Hoover, who presided over the last Great Depression, took office, he was worth about $75 million. (Hoover donated his presidential salary to charity).

According to the 24/7 Wall Street report, the Father of Our Country was worth about $525 million in 2010 dollars – that’s almost twice Romney’s net worth for those of you counting – and is listed among the 100 richest people ever, in relative economic terms. (His wife Martha inherited significant property.) And what’s more? Washington’s presidential salary was equal to 2 percent of the total US budget in 1789. If Mitt, or Newt, or Barack, or anyone else were to make that same ratio, their annual paycheck next year would arrive to tune of $77 (!) billion.