When is a tie not a tie? And when is a tie-breaker not a tie-breaker? When our friends in the liberal media are reporting on Obama.
In the course of criticizing Rick Santorum, the reliable Charles Blow set me off with this aside:
Then again, charitable giving doesn’t appear to be high on Motor Mouth Santorum’s list of priorities. As The Washington Post pointed out, based on Santorum’s tax return disclosure this week, he has given the least amount to charity of the four presidential candidates who have disclosed their tax returns. (Ron Paul has not.) His charitable giving was just 1.8 percent of his adjusted gross income.
The Obamas were the highest, giving 14.2 percent, even though their income was second lowest.
Obama won with 14.2%? That seems odd, since even the Huffers headlined the news that Romney gave 16% to charity over 2009-2010. So what did the WaPo report?
Here we go:
Romney and Obama vie for title of most charitable; Santorum gave least to charity
The wealthiest couple, Mitt Romney and wife Ann, finished slightly ahead, giving 13.8 percent to charity — most of it to the Mormon church. Of course, Romney also made far more than anyone else in 2010, at more than $21 million.
I know what you are thinking, even if you are a WaPo reporter - 13.8% is more than 13.6%. But we can move Obama to the front with a simple adjustment!
But when you calculate charitable giving based on adjustable gross income, Obama actually takes a lead. He and Michelle gave 14.2 percent of their AGI, while the Romneys gave 13.8 percent.
Oh, please - do we really have to look at Obama's 2010 tax return? In 2010 Barack and Michele reported a Gross Income of $1.795 million; their AGI was $1.728 million. By applying their charitable deductions to the smaller base the WaPo arrived at their winning 14.2%.
But just what was that income adjustment? Well, from page 1 of the return we see that $18,000 was their share of a self-employment tax (associated, I have no doubt, with their book royalties, and I don't want to know more) and $49,000 was due to a tax-deductible contribution to self-employed retirement plan (similar to an IRA.)
So Michelle and Barack win the "Most Charitable" title because they contributed a higher proportion of their Gross Income to a tax-advantaged retirement plan? I understand that charity begins a home, but really?
The Romneys win on a comparison based on Gross Income; the Romneys still win if we allow the Obama's AGI adjustment for $18,000 of taxes but disallow the voluntary, tax favored self-serving retirement savings.
And for a real tiebreak, maybe we can look at both 2009 and 2010. The Romneys move up to 16% for the two years. And the Obamas? Ooops - GI was up a lot at $5.623 million, charitable giving was up a little at $329,100, and their donation rate was 5.9%. Totaling over the two years, the Obamas averaged 7.7%.
Nor do we want to delve into the propriety of an incoming President enjoying his bully pulpit to sign a book deal - as is the custom, the Obama are donating those royalties to charity. Back when he was an unknown private citizen with no eye on the White House, Barack was donating at a Santorum-like level, so let's not mention that either.
Well - twisting these numbers to come up with a win for Obama must have been harder than solving a Rubik's cube. Good job by the WaPo and great echo chamber effort by Blow.