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Reason Number #42 Not To Go To A Sixers Game

Artwork by INSPIRATO VISUAL

INQUIRER: The secretly recorded video of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney describing 47 percent of Americans as being government dependents and victims was shot at the Florida home of financier Marc Leder [pictured, below right], one of the owners of the Philadelphia 76ers. So reports David Corn, the author of the Mother Jones article that first disclosed the existence of the video on MondayCorn says the video was shot May 17 at a $50,000-a-person, private fund-raiser for Romney at Leder’s Boca Raton home. At the fund-raiser Romney said: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you – name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what . . . These are people who pay no income tax.” […] Leder’s company, Sun Capital, is a buyout, or private equity firm based in Boca Raton. It buys troubled companies at discount prices, consolidates or sell operations, lays people off, and tries to repackage and re-sell what’s left at a profit. Private equity investors benefit from paying a much lower tax rate than corporate or personal income tax rates. Many of them are lining up with Romney, a professional private equity investor, in part because they believe he is less likely to increase their taxes than Obama is. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Years ago, a visit to Mr. Romney’s investment firm inspired Mr. Leder to get into private equity in the first place. Mr. Romney was an early investor in some of the deals done by Mr. Leder’s investment company, Sun Capital, which today oversees about $8 billion in equity. […] The paper noted that Leder is something of a poster boy for private equity—and not in a good way: Mr. Leder personifies the debates now swirling around this lucrative corner of finance. To his critics, he represents everything that’s wrong with this setup. In recent years, a large number of the companies that Sun Capital has acquired have run into serious trouble, eliminated jobs or both. Since 2008, some 25 of its companies—roughly one of every five it owns—have filed for bankruptcy. Among the losers was Friendly’s, the restaurant chain known for its Jim Dandy sundaes and Fribble shakes. (Sun Capital was accused by a federal agency of pushing Friendly’s into bankruptcy last year to avoid paying pensions to the chain’s employees; Sun disputes that contention.) Another company that sank into bankruptcy was Real Mex, owner of the Chevy’s restaurant chain. In that case, Mr. Leder lost money for his investors not once, but twice. MORE

RELATED: Leder, who made his fortune as co-founder of the private equity firm Sun Capital, is linked to the darker side of private equity. Around 20 percent of companies that Sun Capital owns have filed for bankruptcy since 2008: 28 companies in all, including the restaurant chain Friendly’s, according to The New York Times. Friendly’s laid off 1,260 workers overnight when it filed for bankruptcy last year, according to Daily Finance. MORE

NEW YORK POST: It was as if the Playboy Mansion met the East EBond at a wild party at private-equity titan Marc Leder’s Bridgehampton estate, where guests cavorted nude in the pool and performed sex acts, scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms and men twirled lit torches to a booming techno beat. The divorced Sun Capital Partners honcho rented a sprawling beachfront mansion on Surf Side Road for $500,000 for the month of July. Leder’s weekly Friday and Saturday night parties have become the talk of the Hamptons—and he ended them in style last weekend with his wildest bash yet. Russell Simmons and ex-wife Kimora Lee attended a more subdued party thrown by Leder—who’s an event chair for Simmons’ Art For Life charity—on July 29 together. But the revelry hit a frenzied point the next day before midnight when a male guest described as a “chubby white meathead” and a “tanned” female guest stripped and hopped into the pool naked. MORE

PENN GAZETTE: Less than three months earlier, in the midst of a lockout that threatened to cancel the NBA season, Harris and a group of other investors that included fellow Penn alumni David Blitzer W’91, Art Wrubel W’87, and Marc Leder W’83 officially purchased Philadelphia’s NBA franchise from Comcast-Spectacor. (At the time of publication, another Penn graduate, Tony Ignaczak W’86, was also possibly becoming a partial owner, pending league approval.) Since then, Harris—the team’s managing owner—and his partners have wasted little time trying to restore interest in the once-proud franchise. They hired a new CEO in former travel executive Adam Aron (he didn’t go to Penn but his son does), whose hyperactivity on Twitter engages fans on a whole new level. They started a website called NewSixersOwner.com, where Sixers supporters can offer their feedback on ways to improve the organization. And they slashed ticket prices, added new promotions and improved concessions, all in the hopes of creating a superior game-day atmosphere. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Leaked Fundraiser Videos Prove Romney Really Is The Heartless ‘Get-A-Job-Ya-Bum’ Richie-Rich-All-Grown-Up Caricature The Democrats Say He Is

DAVID BROOKS: Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare? Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney. MORE

CNN: Nobody’s really talking about this slice of the pie, but Mitt Romney’s “47%” who pay no federal income tax include several thousand of the highest-income householdsin the country. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011. Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million. MORE

BLOOMBERG NEWS: You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.” This is an utter disaster for Romney. Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers. Romney has been vigorously denying President Obama’s claims that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class. Now, he’s been caught on video suggesting that low- and middle-income Americans are undertaxed. (That one is especially problematic given the speculation about what’s on Mitt’s unreleased pre-2010 tax returns.) MORE

RELATED:The reason the Romney campaign is now curtains is not the tone of those disdainful things he said about struggling Americans when he was behind closed doors with campaign contributors in Florida. We already knew that Romney views less fortunate people as losers and parasites. The reason the video kills what remains of his bid for the White House is because of what it tells us about his understanding of the basic facts of the American situation: He thinks there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the economy, and there are plenty of lucrative opportunities out there for anyone willing to work for them. What Romney just got caught saying on video is that everything is pretty much fine. If it’s not fine for you and your family, that’s your own whiny fault. Publicly, he blames Obama for monkey-wrenching free enterprise, as if it’s the president’s fault that the economy is such a mess. Privately — in front of people who own yachts and humidors — he blames those who are not doing well for their own struggles. Given how many are not doing well — 80 percent of the workforce has seen their wages decline in real terms over the last quarter-century, and the average household has seen 40 percent of its wealth disappear during the Great Recession — this is politically incendiary stuff. It lumps together people who have never missed a day of work in their lives with the worst stereotypical version of a welfare queen living on the public dole. Goodbye, Mitt. Go and pursue your own opportunities in the private sector. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: This division of “makers” and “takers” isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly. So 83 percent of those not paying federal income taxes are either working and paying payroll taxes or they’re elderly and Romney is promising to protect their benefits because they’ve earned them. The remainder, by and large, aren’t paying federal income or payroll taxes because they’re unemployed. But that’s a small fraction of the country. Behind this argument, however, is a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in the coming years. Here’s how it works. Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That’s why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that. MORE

RELATED: So, good news and bad news. The good news is, oil megacorporation ExxonMobil had such a profitable year in 2009, it contributed $15 billion to the world’s tax coffers. The bad news: Not a cent of that went to the IRS. ExxonMobil, the world’s second-largest company, says it actually paid out 47 percent of its profits in taxes, but not to the good ol’ capitalist US of A. Says Forbes in a report on all the taxes of the US’s top 25 firms (with added emphasis):

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.

By contrast, the nation’s largest corporation, Wal-Mart, paid $7.1 billion globally in taxes, and the lion’s share of it—$5.9 billion, or 83 percent—went to the US government. The most hilarious part is ExxonMobil still finds a way to bitch about its lot in life. The corporation’s website includes an issues page on “industry taxes,” which threatens that energy innovation is already on the ropes because of excessive taxes, and it will be forever consigned to the dustbin by any new taxes on windfall profits (or, we’d assume, plans like President Obama’s to close the offshore earnings loopholes that saved ExxonMobil from the IRS this year). “While our worldwide profits have grown, our worldwide income taxes have grown even more. From 2004 to 2008 our earnings grew by 79 percent, but our income taxes grew by 130 percent,” ExxonMobil’s flacks wrote, presumably while playing the world’s smallest—and most expensive—violin. MORE

BUZZ FEED: Mitt Romney was asked at his May 17 Florida fundraiser — the subject of a now-ubiquitous leaked video — how he could “duplicate” the 1980 hostage crisis scenario, credited with defeating Jimmy Carter. In response, the presidential candidate said: “I mean, if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.” Last week, the Romney campaign was accused of exploiting the crisis at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans — and this little-noticed section of the bombshell video has already drawn attention in that connection. MORE

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