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A Charitable Interpretation

President Obama's declaration in the State of the Union speech that people making more than a million bucks should be paying more than their secretaries, and at least 30 percent of their income, was seen as an implicit rebuke of Mitt Romney. But this was apparently a grave mistake on the president's part, because Romney already is paying 30 percent.

What, you didn't know that? Well, it says it right here at the end of the Washington Post's article on Romney's newly released tax returns:

Even if tax law is not changed, Heritage Foundation economist J.D. Foster argued that Romney already contributes at least 30 percent of his income to society.
“Between taxes and charitable contributions, it’s already 30 percent,” Foster said. “That’s a pretty hefty portion of his resources being applied to social purposes.”

Yes, apparently the right is so scrambled over how to defend Romney's sub-14 percent federal income tax rate that it is now arguing that his charitable contributions -- the vast majority of which went to the Mormon church, which got $4 million from Romney over the past two years -- should count as part of his contribution to the common good. So: this April, no need to pay the IRS the full tab. Just let them know about your donations to worthy causes like, say, your needy prep school or Ivy League alma mater or the Heritage Foundation or, as in the case of Romney, a church that spends lots of money on really tall spires and anti-gay marriage referenda, and demonstrates its contribution to society by prohibititing non-members from entering its temples.

Next thing you know they'll be counting toward Romney's giving tab the (tax-free) $100 million he passed on to his five sons. After all, who's to argue there's not a "social purpose" in keeping those handsome fellas in such fine fettle?

follow me on Twitter @AlecMacGillis