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. kayscullion

    I totally agree with the idea that there should be an absoulte seperation of church and state, and it is ridiculous to think that a presidential hopefull would let his religion guide him on issues, especially when there religious views dont mirrior everyones in America. I will never vote for someone who can't make decisions that aren't based off a religious belief.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kayscullion

    opps meant are, not aren't haha

    January 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Middle

    Why do people blame Romney for being rich. He wasn't in Congress to create the tax laws that benefit him and all the rest. Granted I don't have money to invest like he does, but I'm surely not envious. He said he'd change the capital gains as not to tax people making under $200,000. That would benifit me and he'd still have to pay his taxes. I can tell you my stance was democratic growing up, but have leaned more republican every year. I think he will definitely look out for the country. I don't really care who wins the GOP as long as it's not the hypocritical Newt.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. D01

    The issue should not be what Romney HAD to pay in taxes, since none of us can control that, but what he CHOSE to pay to help others...
    We know that over the past two years on average he has annually given 3 to 4 million dollars to charity.
    We know that over the past ten years on average Joe Biden has annually given 3 to 4 hundred dollars to charity.
    Even accounting for a difference in income, Romney has been more than 100 times more generous than Biden.
    Generous isn't lobbying to take more money away from people to run through a government that has grown by 250,000 employees over the past 3 years (ex DoD and USPS) to hopefully reach people less fortunate. It is giving of your own time and money. This type of person is one who wants to serve other Americans, not supervise them!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
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