The Swiss bank account returns

The Obama campaign plays up one of the most prominent markers of Romney’s top-1 percent lifestyle

Topics: War Room,

The Swiss bank account returns

President Obama’s campaign unveiled its fifth television spot this morning, and the most surprising thing about it is that it took this long for the president’s team to play the Swiss bank account card.

The 30-second spot, which will air in the swing states of Iowa, Virginia and Ohio, is ostensibly a response to Koch-funded “independent” attack ads that claim the administration blew billions of dollars on green jobs efforts. But it’s really the start of what figures to be a relentless over-the-air campaign to connect Romney’s own top-1 percent lifestyle with the policy priorities of his party.

It takes about 10 seconds for the Obama ad to pivot from green jobs into a series of bullet points on Romney and outsourcing, ending with the line: “It’s just what you’d expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account.”

The Swiss bank account came to light back in late January, when Romney – after being booed for his stonewalling at a Republican debate – very reluctantly released some of his tax records. The documents were rife with the markings of a top-1 percent man: $45 million in income in 2010 and 2011, an effective tax rate of 14 percent, extensive offshore holdings, and the Swiss account, which was apparently closed just before Romney embarked on his 2012 campaign. The tax records are complemented by a seemingly endless parade of Romney “wealth gaffes” – unscripted moments in which the candidate conformed to the stereotype of an out-of-touch plutocrat.

Playing up Romney’s wealth is not without risk, with Romney countering that the strategy reeks of “class warfare” and amounts to a gratuitous attack on “job creators.” The challenge for Obama is to make it clear that he’s not trying to stoke resentment of Romney’s wealth and success, but rather that Romney represents a super-affluent elite that has been shielded from the economic downturn and that Republicans are intent on protecting with their policies. From Obama’s standpoint, this is the great potential of Romney’s “top 1 percent-ness” – that it helps to drive home a point that Obama would be making about any Republican candidate running against him this year.

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>