Mitt Romney’s the richest presidential candidate since billionaire Ross Perot 20 years ago, but that only tells part of the story of why the Republican’s personal wealth could be a huge liability if he becomes the GOP nominee, according to a new analysis of the former Massachusetts governor’s personal assets.
Of his $230 million fortune, Romney holds $45 million in liquid assets, says the analysis by a firm called Wealth-X, which describes itself as a global intelligence, prospecting and wealth due diligence company.
“Mitt Romney last year made nearly $21 million, or roughly 800 times more than the $26,400 paid to median wage earners in the United States,” says David Friedman, co-founder and president at Wealth-X.
It’s that income inequality between Romney and average Americans where his wealth becomes a problem. In today’s world of the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent, Romney’s not only in that 1 percent, he’s at its very top.
“Romney’s wealth places him among the 0.0001 percent wealthiest Americans, a cohort that represents the richest Americans,” Friedman says.
Athough conservatives like to argue otherwise, income inequality is an important political issue in the minds of most Americans. Opinion polls demonstrate this.
A December 2011 poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe the economy unfairly favors wealthy Americans, while only 36 percent believe the system is “generally fair.” In another cut against conservative orthodoxy which constantly demands more and more deregulation, a separate poll finds 55 percent of Americans believe economic unfairness favoring the wealthy is a bigger problem than overregulation by the government hurting economic growth.
Yet another poll says that 61 percent of people believed the federal government should “pursue policies that try to reduce the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans.”
Those aren’t the sorts of policies which Romney is advocating, however. He would make permanent, for instance, the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. President Obama, by contrast, has called for their end this year.
The real problem for Romney, if he becomes the Republican nominee to face off against the president in November, isn’t merely his string of awkward statements and gaffes, such as that he’s not a NASCAR fan — but knows some of the rich race owners — or that his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs.
No, it’s the fact that he would spend the fall season — and head-to-head debates against Obama himself — pushing a set of policies which would benefit him personally, but are so clearly at odds with public opinion.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.