Overheard on CNN.com: Romney's debating, Romney's taxes
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich at Monday night's GOP presidential debate in Florida.
January 24th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Romney's debating, Romney's taxes

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

On Monday, people were talking about Newt Gingrich. On Tuesday, two of the most talked-about topics on CNN.com have been Mitt Romney and Mitt Romney. His debating and his taxes, that is. Here's a look at these different angles on the GOP presidential candidate.

Romney does some damage

Debate coach and commentator Todd Graham took a look at Monday night's Florida GOP presidential debate and said Romney had some successes. He also gave props to candidate Ron Paul for doing well that evening. One commenter said Romney and Paul did a good job of stopping Gingrich, but some disagreed.

Maiaw: "Romney and Paul caught Newt in a bind last night. Romney said that Newt was a failed leader and had to resign in disgrace as speaker. Newt countered and said that he 'voluntarily stepped down'. Paul rebutted Newt's claim and said that is not what happened because Paul was there during the investigation and it was a 'mess being under Newt's leadership! In a previous debate, (Rick) Santorum stated the same thing since he was there; Newt did not 'voluntarily step down.' Newt just stood there all quiet after that exchange with Paul. Not a Paul fan, but that was a good exchange from him."

ljburgher: "Anyone who is not prepared will look bad during any debate. Dont just pin that on Newt. Romney has been flopping all over the place, especially on his taxes when questioned. He looks and sounds horrible."

Some readers said Romney came off badly.

dante6: "The only damage Romney created was a firm belief that he is in a panic mode. I listened to his comments last night to Newt and I came away with the feeling that he is friggin' nuts. Focus on how we are fixing the Obama mess and stop thrumpting the party line. Answer the questions and quit the crap. Who cares about the past? Focus on the future."

One commenter said the Republican Party should make a decision.

Coloradan: "Still not sure why the GOP just doesn't embrace Romney. So what if Romneycare was the foundation for Obamacare. It is popular in Massachusetts and 97% of residents there have healthcare. Sounds like a success to me."

0xFFFFFFFF: "He's a Yankee and a Mormon. That loses the South right off the bat. Romney doesn't embrace the Tea Party and spew venom. That loses the rest of the Republicans in the U.S."

There was a lot of support for Ron Paul.

jeffonbass: "I like the way the author took sympathy with Ron Paul. The guy is the only GOP candidate with any real values and represents the people way more than any of the other candidates. (I lean left, but he still represents me more than Gingrich or Romney because his policies are for every person and not just the rich and powerful.) He is, however, a terrible debater and comes across as befuddled. I would like to see him do better."

And there were a few comments that expressed frustration with Gingrich.

scottmw: "I am a Republican and no fan of Obama, but I'd vote for Obama over Newt any day of the week. I can't believe anybody would want this Gingrich guy to be the face of our nation! If he's elected, we're all screwed."

This commenter seemed more optimistic about Gingrich, but the news wasn't good for Rick Santorum.

momoya: "Last night finally seemed to clarify what each candidate can do. Santorum's out. Romney's too flustery, and can't work with Gingrich as vice president. With Paul alongside and under a heavy hand, Gingrich has a chance. Not much of a chance, but it's the only one in sight."

One of the biggest topics surrounding Romney besides the debate was the release of two years worth of tax returns.

What's in Mitt Romney's tax return?

CNNMoney readers, who tend to gravitate toward business topics, were generally more supportive of Romney than we have seen on CNN.com stories. The article noted that 80% of Americans also have an effective tax rate of less than 15%.

MDR01: "Don't you get it? The guy can make money = great for out country! He has experience running a business and investing wisely, which we cannot say about Obama! (hence the excessive debt since he's been in office!) So, Romney has payed his taxes on investments- at least he is not hiding anything. Yes, he's wealthy, but he has properly paid the 15% on investments after he paid taxes when purchasing. I'd rather have someone in office with excellent business experience like he has instead of someone who was just a 'Community Organizer' and who never released school records. Common sense, people!"

Some commenters said they felt like many politicians are out of touch.

Donna Demmin Church: "Just once I wish we had a candidate who knew what the average American goes through as far as struggling to put food on the table, pay their bills on time, send a child to collage, and live a decent life, all on a minimum wage job. I'm sick to death of these career politicians pontificating on how the 'American worker' is so down trodden when they really have no (freaking) clue. They use us as a platform to get their lousy (expletive) elected and then throw us away once they are in office. Walk in the shoes of the unemployed, then run for office."

OldOldMan: "The problem with these guys is that they cannot relate to the average paycheck-to-paycheck American. This is like me trying to relate to a starving child in Africa. The bottom line is this: If half of my check didn't go to taxes, life would be so much easier. Take half of my 100 million will leave me with 50 million. I'm still in a fantastic position. Take half of my one-thousand dollars will leave me with five-hundred. Now I'm in trouble."

Some appreciated Romney.

jcmo24: "Thank you Mr. Romney for paying more in taxes than the 51% of Americans combined who pay zero federal tax and actually suck money out of the system."

Jray01: "The man paid $7 million to charity, and $6 million on taxes with money he had already paid income taxes on. What have you lazy people done? Your ridiculous envy and classism is just making me like him more."

One commenter wanted to know what motivates him.

augustghost: "Hmm. Why does this dude want a high-pressure job like the presidency then? Ego? Power-hungry? Arrogance? or to put himself in a position to change some laws to benefit himself even more? This guy cannot relate to the middle class."

Some said life isn't fair, but others noted there's also risk in being rich. A very interesting conversation flowed from there.

bsitz: "I paid a higher percentage in taxes then he did. And I donated what I could afford. Because he makes more money he should pay a lesser percentage in taxes? Makes no sense ..."

tryris123: "He didn't pay a lesser percentage because he makes more money. He paid a lesser percentage because the vast majority of his income is from investments. It's not a 'special' tax that only the rich have access to. Every American has the opportunity to take their savings and invest it. And why should investments be taxed at a wage-earner level? That makes no sense. The inherent risks to investing are far greater than that of a wage earner. Therefore, in order to encourage investment, which everyone should be able to agree is a very valuable aspect of our economy, the earnings from those investments are rightfully taxed at a lower percentage."

bsitz: "So he paid less money because he has more money to invest? Semantics ... 'earnings' are 'earnings.' How can you tax a loss?"

tryris123: "I'm not sure of your argument. My point is that everyone pays the same rate on investments, regardless of wealth status. Simply because one makes majority of their living off of investments doesn't mean they should be taxed at a wage-earner level. The Capital Gain tax rate was established lower for a reason. Because investments carry a much larger risk to that of a wage earner. So, in order to encourage investment, it was decided investment should be taxed at a lower rate. What is wrong with this? There is a real unnerving sense of 'me' in this culture right now. As though, if I'm not taking full advantage of that benefit the way others are, then they should not be able to either. I think it would be helpful for all of us to take a step back and really assess the situation our government and country are in. We could tax the top 10% at 100% and we wouldn't even balance our annual budget. The wealthiest people and corporations in the world are still denominated in billions, yet our gov't has surpassed that figure a long time ago. Our federal gov't is denominated in trillions. That's how bloated and out of whack we are as a country.

Take for example, the most aggressive proposal from the debt ceiling debates. The proposal was $4 trillion in cuts combined with $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. At our current deficit of $1.6 trillion annually, the combined cuts and revenue would only reduce our defiict, our deficit, to $1.1 trillion annually. We would still be going into debt $1.1 trillion every year. That is just absurd. Our situation is so dire in terms of fiscal sanity that I really believe there is no remedying our deficits. It's not going to happen. We don't have the political backbone to do what is truly needed."

Another debate ensued about carried interest from Romney's involvement in Bain Capital. There's been some controversy over these earnings.

firstlight: "14% for income mostly earned on 'carried interest,' not real capital gains like stocks and other securities; it is a loophole for the rich that don't have to risk their own money - not income that has ever been taxed. This is why the nation's wealth has unfairly shifted to the top 1% - rules like these. Over the past 30 years the top 1% have gained 275% compared to 40% for the middle class and 18% for the poor."

JayShy: "Carried interest is a real capital gain! It's an ownership interest, as in Romney's ownership of portfolio companies an Bain. Financial lingo does confuse the issue though, so definitely see how you could have thought otherwise."

firstlight: "Carried interest requires no investment of one's own capital, thus is is a sham that it is classified and taxed as capital gains. Had the partner already been taxed their original investment I could see it being treated the same, but that is not the case with carried interest - this is a poster boy of an inequitable tax loophole for the rich ... Mitt is taking advantage of tax loopholes to receive what is effectively a salary without paying the ordinary thirty-five percent marginal income tax rates that an average person would have to pay. If Carried Interest is considered 'Ownership Interest' then why isn't it first taxed at the corporate rate? Nooooo, it isn't, it just goes straight the the partner, untaxed, then taxed at only 15% by the partner as a long term gain. Heck, someone with zero investment of their own capital can become a partner and enjoy this tax boondoggle."

Some said they don't have a problem with the money, but they won't be voting for Romney.

kasee: "And I believe he should go home and count his money. Don't resent him for it. Just don't believe he gives a hoot about this country, and we don't need someone like that for president. Envy ... indeed, robber baron. Go enjoy your bucks. Maybe you can buy another country, but not this one."

Others said one ought to put themselves in Romney's shoes.

dewster1: "Is everyone that blind jealous? You should be sceaming at the top of your lungs for your rate to be this low not to raise his. How brainwashed are you? Remember the real cause of our deficit is not the amount taken in but the amount being spent!"

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Keep it simple.
    The details of tax returns, debating, and interest rates muddy the waters around resentment of a successful man's wealth.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      It's not THAT he's wealthy, JIF, it's HOW he got that way.
      Big, big difference.
      Because he looks Presidential doesn't mean he's be a good one.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMW57

      Not Jelous of the wealth, angry as hell at the hoarding, Income is income, if he took in 21 million he should pay atleast 7 million in income tax PLUS 1.6 million in FICA and Medicare taxes. Donations for charity should be phased out over 1 million a year. Why is this man's income not subject to AMT? Its because he and others like him have bought these tax breaks. All the "investment" made by his like have not created jobs. If they had we would not be having 15 million people out of work. You want to cut the spending? Lets have jobs that pay enough so people do not need government help. Stop welfare for the rich, either wages or taxes but the money must go back into the system.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    What was the quote from Romney that most people will be remembering come voting time? I LIKE FIRING PEOPLE! Pretty much sums him up.

    January 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      @chrissy:
      Yep.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    Somehow this guy Gingrich manages to put behind some incredible bad stuff...he basically got drummed out as speaker and his marriageunfaithfulness record should raise more eyebrows. Unfortunately, there's too many folks who are still silently antsy about a rich, Ivy League Mormon. They still see Mormonism as a sect/cult somehow and that intentional ignorance will be a problem, especially in the bible-belt south and among the teavangelicals. They'd rather have a Catholic with lots of baggage...maybe he's been re-born or redeemed,

    January 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      A Christian by any other name is still...a Christian.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mmmmm ♔♕

    romney articles are a waste space and a waste of time...

    January 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mmmmm ♔♕

    mormons are NOT christian they ARE A CULT. their sacred text IS NOT the bible and is called the book of mormons. the cross has no meaning and is no difference then being hit by a car...sorry guys electing romney is as bad as electing an atheist.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Catholic and Prous

      I'm a Republican and a Roman Catholic and honestly, I would not care if my president was a mormon, a jew, a muslim or held any other spiritual beliefs. Point is, this is America we pride ourselves on diversity so let's act like it. If he has good points, does not have a questionable ethical background and would make a good president, then vote for him. All the rest has no place in 21st century USA

      January 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tingle

      Against all religions except your own, are you? The Morom religion was based squarely on Catholicism, which is...Christian. Shut up.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mmmmm ♔♕

    ....further Jesus is not God to a mormon...he is referred to with a small "s" as son.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BMW57

      And this is important why? Why should I care which fairy tale any of them believes?

      January 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mmmmm ♔♕

    ....read and learn....please...read and learn!

    January 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    I'd be astounded to learn that banasy was not well acquainted with THE BOOK OF MORMON.
    It was she who brought up Christians' being Christian.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Bill had mentioned Catholics and teavangelicals before banasy mentioned Christians.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. chrissy

    I dont believe the presidential race is based on ones religous beliefs is it? If so i missed that in my government classes.

    January 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mmmmm ♔♕

      chrissy let's not be coy religious principle influence and basis of usa govt and laws. it is also one of the principle element sought by voters amongst its civic leaders and candidates...I never witness any politician taking office without taking oath either...so help me God!

      January 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    I agree Mmmm, lets NOT be coy! America was founded on the principle of *freedom of religon*. We do not have the right to force our religon on another human being. There are several l000s of religons and WHO is to say one is better than the others?

    January 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. chrissy

    oops meant religion.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. chrissy

    BMW57 that was exactly my point. This is a job after all and religion has nothing to do with whether someone is qualified, not to mention it is against the law for the rest of us to be hired or not based on religious choice.

    January 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    @ chrissy:
    Religion should have nothing to do with a candidate's being elected POTUS: you are correct in saying that.
    However, when a candidate tries to force his religiously based views on a nation's laws, it has a lot to do with his candidacy.
    A candidate using his own religious views to abolish women's freedom of choice regarding abortion, or to cause the teaching of Creationism as "science," will never get my vote.
    Creationism is a matter of belief or faith, not science.
    Since the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, about 1960 if I remember correctly–it's not worth a google–I have not said those two words when reciting the Pledge.
    I believe, truly, in absolute separation of Church and State.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. MiMi

    I would rather have a sucessful business man in the white house *(Mitt Rommey with good morals of family value) than Newt with a bad bad bagge of Freddie/Mac's plus lot's more of dirt to come from Ms. Nancy P. that she already stated she know on Newt, who also beleives in open-marrige & numours of marragies a disgrace to the Christan Faith, (I am catholic and am ashamed of Newt) Go Rommey.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tingle

      Successfful businessman and Romney are an oxymoron.

      January 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
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