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Thursday, October 23, 2008

I wonder what Joe Sixpack would make of this?

So many of you have probably heard the news that Sarah Palin has spent a lot of money recently on her wardrobe. How much is "a lot"? Well... um... around $150,000. Seriously:

Sarah Palin's sharp looks on the campaign trail come at a price: more than $150,000 on clothing and accessories from high-end department stores since the Alaska governor was the surprise pick by John McCain to be his running mate, records reveal.

Financial disclosure statements documented by show the retail outlay for Palin and her family since early September included a $75,062.63 expenditure at a Minneapolis Neiman Marcus and shopping trips to Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York that resulted in a combined tab of $49,425.74, all paid by the Republican National Committee.

Hair and makeup accounted for another $4,716.49 billed to the RNC in September, with no such costs reported in August.

This is actually more hilarious in my opinion than Cindy McCain's rather extravagant outfit from the convention, if only because Palin has been working hard to portray herself as one of the people. She constantly refers to herself as a hockey mom, talks about "Wasilla Main Street," and just tries to be as folksy as she can. And then... well... this happens. What's even funnier is that, while the campaign claims that the RNC is just "loaning" her the clothes, it may well be that she will have to report them as income on this year's taxes:

I just got off the phone with a well-respected and well-known tax attorney who doesn't want to be identified.

I asked him earlier in the day whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can avoid paying taxes on the $150,000 worth of clothes the RNC bought her, as she and the RNC maintain. (They said the RNC now owns the clothes; she's just borrowing them.)

He said that, after consulting with a number of experts at his prominent firm, he thinks the RNC and Gov. Palin are wrong.


"The consensus view is she would have to count the wardrobe as income at least in the amount of the fair value of the rental of the wardrobe," he said.

Now, snark about the validity of anonymous sources aside,* estimates suggest that Palin's income, minus her husband Todd, but including the per diem she charged the State of Alaska for her use of her own home, run at about $142,000 per year. So, essentially, she's acquired enough fashion items in the past few months to actually outweigh her own income. Assuming the full $150,000 is taxable, that places her at a combined income of $292,000 for a tax bracket of about 33%. Her tax bill for the clothes would, therefore, be about $49,500. And you know what this means? It means that the taxes she might ultimately pay on clothes purchased for her campaign represent more money than I make in several years as a grad student, even before tuition/fees/academic extortion. Coincidentally, the modal income for an American household on the 2006 General Social Survey was $40,000-$49,999. So, Palin may end up paying more in taxes on clothes than a lot of American families make all year.

It's not that I mind that she makes a lot of money, I don't. It's not that I mind that she dresses well, I don't. It's just that I mind that she pretends that she's just a regular old hockey mom when she's anything but. And I mind that she encourages folks who are struggling to make ends meet to vote for economic policies that more or less promise to end what little prosperity they have left.

You know what the difference is between Sarah Palin and a hockey mom?

$75,000 in clothes from Neiman Marcus.

* And I'm not sure how snarky I would be, given how the peer review system works.

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Blogger tina said...

It's not just that it's out of sync with her "regular gal" image, but that this wardrobe was paid for with campaign dollars. Can you imagine being a Republican donor, who scraped together $25 or $50 out of your household budget, learning that your money went to buy designer suits from a store you can't afford to shop in? I would be outraged, plain and simple.

Friday, October 24, 2008 6:30:00 AM  

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