All the News The Campaigns Hoped You Missed
Unless you were busy enjoying your weekend, you probably heard that Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax returns last Friday. It served as a reminder that Romney makes a lot of money, and he paid a lower effective tax rate than the average American. As such, the Romney campaign wasn’t super interested in highlighting it, so of course they released it just as everyone left work for the weekend, or as The West Wing once called it, on ‘Take out the trash day.’ It seems to have worked for them: the debate on the rest of Romney’s tax returns, once raging, hasn’t really resurfaced in a serious way in the week since he released the most recent ones. It had us thinking, what else have both campaigns tried to sneak by us this year? Herein, a retrospective on the more notable news you might have missed … because they wanted you to:
1. March 16: The Obama administration announces controversial contraception mandate
This was relatively early on in the campaign, but the Obama administration released its “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on preventive services policy,” which was a retreat from its initial requirement that religiously affiliated employers provide their employees with insurance that covers contraception. Under the revised rule, insurance companies would cover the cost of the contraception. Of course, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continued to complain about the rule, any chance of keeping the story quiet sort of disappeared.
2. August 17: Paul Ryan releases his tax returns
Paul Ryan was announced as Romney’s VP choice August 11, and didn’t waste much time releasing his own tax returns late on a Friday. The Ryans paid an effective tax rate of 15.9 percent in 2010 and 20 percent in 2011, meaning they paid more than the Romneys, but still less than the average American. We often hear about the tax rate of one of the people on this year’s Republican ticket, and it’s not Ryan, so we rate this news dump relatively successful.
3. June 29, 2012: The White House releases top salaries
In June, The White House released its report detailing all of the salaries of its staff members. It is an annual report, so it’s not a surprise, but it was released at 4:39 p.m. on a Friday. The report shows that over 100 people earn a six-figure salary, and that the payroll has gotten bigger this year, going from $37.1 million in 2011 to $37.8 million in 2012. During a campaign in which an economic crisis is the headline, this is definitely news that Obama would want to avoid. Republicans have always said that government is getting too big, and this election is no exception. Still, the salary news didn’t get too much traction so we’d say it was a successful effort.
4. June 1: More financial disclosure from the Romneys
You may be seeing some common threads among these dumps: many of them relate to the personal expenses of the candidates. Romney’s financial disclosure in June was no exception. The fact that his assets are worth $83 million to $255 million probably didn’t help him present himself as in touch with the average American. Given that this is still a strong talking point against Romney (as fueled by some secret videos you may have seen) and there was more pressure for full disclosure of his tax returns, so this wasn’t so successful.
5. September 21: Romney’s release of his tax returns
A week ago, the world got another peek at what Romney pays in taxes. The long-awaited announcement shows that Romney paid a rate of 14.1 percent. After a week, talk of the returns has mostly faded from headlines, to the Democrats’ chagrin. Some are even saying this backfired for the Democrats because the release also shows that the Romneys have given almost 30 percent of their income to charity. This is a point that Romney has been surprisingly quiet about during the campaign, but it’s safe to say that releasing this on a Friday worked as planned.
So those are the big ticket items you might have missed, but they’re certainly not the only pieces of news that have gotten out on a Friday this campaign. We enjoyed that National Journal called the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP a “Friday news dump.” We are not really sure what to think of this, but one thing’s for sure, even though it leaked on a Friday, the nation managed to hear about it.