Josh Marshal puts it into perspective.
The first few paragraphs:
I keep hearing that people are claiming it’s a problem that Mitt Romney is rich. Only no one actually seems to be saying that. I understand why Mitt Romney is claiming that, which he continually does. He’s changing the subject and trying to fight with a straw-man. But there’s abundant evidence — both negative and positive — that voters really don’t begrudge politicians their wealth. John Kerry, because of his marriage, was and is fabulously wealthy. Mike Bloomberg, not a problem. Bushes, Kennedys. It’s always a part of their public profile; but seldom an issue that cuts against them. So let’s cut the crap. It’s not an issue for Romney now. Everybody knows he’s worth somewhere between $150 and $250 million. He actually talks about it constantly, in as much as most of the premise of his campaign is his very real record of success as a businessman.
And let’s give him his due: he was really successful. Romney was born to wealth and privilege (Dad was CEO of AMC, then longtime governor). Mitt made a huge fortune on his own on top of that. But no one remotely relevant to this election begrudges him that. And he and his campaign know it.
Romney’s problem is that he’s running in a year in which tax equity has suddenly been thrust to the center of the public debate. (It’s difficult to imagine a similar furor in 2008 or 1996 or almost any other year.) And he turns out to be a poster-boy for just what most people find most inequitable about the current tax code: that some people who are extraordinarily wealthy pay a tax rate about the same as others who are barely holding on in the middle class (see this chart). He’s said himself that his overall tax rate is probably around 15%. It might well be lower — we’ll find out tomorrow. But all by itself I believe the Romney campaign realizes that number is radioactive.
But as they say on the late night informercials, there’s more....