Mitt Romney said last night during the Florida GOP presidential primary debate that “I did not inherit money from my parents.” Here’s how Romney phrased it in the previous debate: “I didn’t inherit money from my parents. What I have, I earned. I worked hard in the American way.”
Mitt Romney didn’t inherit any money the same way he never claimed he was a bigger gay rights advocate than Ted Kennedy. Romney is once again playing fast and loose with the facts. When most Americans say “I didn’t inherit money from my parents, I earned it the American way” it means you grew up with limited means, worked your butt off, put yourself through school, and raised yourself and your family to a higher economic class all by yourself.
What they don’t mean is that you were born to a filthy rich politically connected family, got into all the right schools, and then made a lot of money as did your father before you. It’s all well and good that Romney made a lot of money by his own right, but most rich kids do. Sure, technically his dad’s money wasn’t Mitt Romney’s money as a kid, but now we’re just playing “I didn’t inhale” games. Under that argument, Mitt Romney grew up a pauper, without a cent to his name (since his dad’s money wasn’t his own).
Mitt Romney grew up rich and then he got rich. That’s the American way all right. But it’s not the one Mitt Romney is claiming.
PS Politifact found that Romney did in fact inherit money from his dad. Though he gave it away to BYU. I’m wondering how that give away was treated on Romney’s taxes, and/or whether he counted this as part of his required annual tithing to the Mormon church? In other words, whether this was yet another tax gambit by Romney. Since he’s refusing to release his taxes, we’ll never know.
Politifact did get one thing wrong. They said that Romney lived sparely his two years in France as a Mormon missionary. That’s not true. He may have lived sparely for half the time, but for the other half he lived live a prince.
Another PS: Nick Baumann at Mother Jones asks some of the same questions about the tax implications of all of this. And he notes that Romney also gave some of the non-existing inheritance to his kids.