Claim: A new advertisement endorsed by President Barack Obama that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 features a portion of an interview of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley. Pelley states: "You made on your investments personally about $20 million last year and you paid 14 percent in federal taxes. That's the capital gains rate. Is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 who paid a higher rate than you did? So you think it is fair?" Romney: "Yeah, I think it's the right way to encourage economic growth." Narrator: "Lower tax rates for him than us. Is that the way to grow America?"
Verdict: Begins with a fact-based question but winds up misleading viewers because the ad edited Romney's response in a segment that aired Sept. 23 on CBS' "60 Minutes." Romney earned more than $21.6 million in 2010 and paid $3 million in federal taxes for an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent. He also earned nearly $13.7 million in 2011 and paid $1.9 million in federal taxes for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. A single person who earned $50,000 in 2011 and claimed only the standard deduction of $5,800 and the single exemption worth $3,700 would have paid $6,256 in federal taxes on $40,500 in adjusted gross income. That would have been an effective tax rate of 15.4 percent.
But after Pelley asked whether it was fair for the guy making $50,000 to pay a higher rate, Romney actually responded: "It is a low rate and one of the reasons why the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as 35 percent." Pelley: "So you think it is fair?" Romney: "Yeah, I think it's the right way to encourage economic growth, to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work." This fuller explanation by Romney provides a different perspective than the one portrayed in the ad.