It looks like Virginia Republican primary voters, at most, will be choosing from a list of four pretty lousy contenders: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich. Since the state GOP has decided that candidates who submit at least 15,000 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions with at least 600 signatures from each of the 11 districts will be asumed to have qualified, only Romney is assured at this point to have met the qualifications, while Paul probably has. Perry and Gingrich turned in fewer than 12,000 signatures and still may not qualify for the ballot.
Even if all four appear on the March ballot, GOP voters have a pretty sorry lot to choose from. Each one of the four has disgusting baggage weighing down any run for the White House, but perhaps the most bizarre is Ron Paul.
Paul has finally been unmasked as the con man and conspiracy nut he is, not the kindly old libertarian he pretends to be. A 1993 newsletter released under his signature contains unbelievable vitriol and hate. In it he rails against the “new money” the government printed to thwart counterfeiters, calling it part of a plot to create one world government. He brags that he had earlier “laid bare the coming race war in our big cities,” the “federal-homosexual coverup on AIDS,” and “the Israeli lobby which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica.” Then, Paul promises he can save people from the coming disasters if they will simply send him $99.
Then there’s Mitt Romney. In recent days he has stated that he will not follow the usual practice of presidential contenders and release his tax returns. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. The guy benefits from tax breaks for the uber-wealthy and doesn’t want the rest of us to know that.
Romney, perhaps the richest man to ever seek the presidency with a worth of $200 to $250 million, is getting richer by the day from the arrangement he made with Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded. Bain still pays him a share of its profits, even though he has nothing to do with the firm now. Those profits are being taxed at very low income tax rates under a provision for hedge fund and private equity managers.
This particular tax break is known as the carried-interest loophole and allows privileged rich guys to treat the income they receive as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax rate. That particular loophole costs all the rest of us $4 billion a year.
If Rick Perry does make the ballot, well, anyone who watched any part of the interminable series of GOP debates saw vividly that Rick Perry is two sandwiches short of a picnic, all foam and no beer, a few channels short of cable…Enough said.
Newt Gingrich is perhaps the crassest of all the GOPers. When Jack Abramoff, just recently out of jail for world-class political corruption, calls you corrupt, you have just won the corruption Oscar. According to Abramoff, Gingrich “is…engaging in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains…Why are these guys getting all this money, why do they all become so rich?…Unfortunately Newt seems to play right into it.”
So, I present to you the field for the March GOP presidential primary in Virginia. Merry Christmas to all Virginia Democrats. We couldn’t have asked for a better present.