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A Bad Week for Teresa By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 21, 2004

Between fits of demeaning motherhood and revealing the miniscule tax burden she pays on her enormous income, it has been a deservedly terrible week for potential first lady Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Tax Troubles


Mrs. Kerry released two pages of her 2003 individual income tax form, which expose how she used tax shelters to avoid paying her “fair share” of income taxes. In fact, she contributed a smaller percentage of her income in taxes than most middle class taxpayers. She received an overall income of $5.07 million, but, since she can afford to find tax loopholes middle class taxpayers cannot, she was able to shelter $2.78 million from taxation. (The fact that a woman worth $1 billion could limit her overall income to only $5 million is itself a testament to the many havens her battery of tax attorneys found for her wealth.) Teresa Heinz Kerry drew a taxable income of $2.29 million and paid only $628,401 in taxes. That adds up to an effective tax rate of 12.4 percent of her income, nearly 3.5 percent less than that paid by average taxpayers in 2001 and 15 percent less than the top one percent of income earners, whose tax cuts her husband pledges to “roll back” in the name of “tax fairness.”


On the campaign stump, Kerry pledged, “I am going to ask America’s wealthiest people – those making over $200,000 a year – to pay the same fair share they paid under Bill Clinton.” That fair share amounts to a tax rate of almost 41 percent – or 350 percent the rate his wife felt compelled to pay.


This unflattering truth comes after John Edwards confessed to organizing his law practice as a Subchapter S corporation to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicare taxes during the vice presidential debate.


The row over Teresa Heinz Kerry’s low tax burden made one assertion Edwards made during his debate seem damning: “[A] millionaire sitting by their swimming pool, collecting their statements to see how much money they're making, make their money from dividends, pays a lower tax rate than the men and women who are receiving paychecks for serving on the ground in Iraq.”


Now we know whom he had in mind.


However, lost in this news, even among conservative media, is the fact that Heinz Kerry has continued a stonewall unprecedented in the history of presidential campaigns: She is the first spouse of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate not to release her full tax returns. The activities of the H. John Heinz III Foundation and the Teresa & H. John Heinz III Foundation, which she heads, remain concealed – including how they are funded and the groups they endow. Teresa Heinz Kerry has steered a great deal of her politically motivated “philanthropy” to “campaign finance reform” organizations – indeed, she sits on the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution. These muckraking hairshirts seem uncharacteristically silent about the deeds of their patroness.


Motherhood Bashing


Teresa Heinz Kerry also maligned maternity in a USA Today interview on Tuesday. Lashing out at Laura Bush, Mrs. Kerry said:


I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up…I'm older, and my validation of what I do and what I believe and my experience is a little bit bigger — because I'm older, and I've had different experiences. And it's not a criticism of her. It's just, you know, what life is about.


What is the “real job” Heinz Kerry has held these many years? On the aforementioned tax return, Teresa Heinz Kerry lists “Philanthropist” as her “occupation.” Thus, giving away her late husband’s ancestorsriches to far-Left political activists comprises the grand work of her life. 


She overlooked the fact that Mrs. Bush worked as a teacher and librarian before getting married – and worked as a stay-at-home-mom after that. (Heinz Kerry apparently considers stating that Laura Bush fails to measure up on “what life is about” a non-criticism.)


Mrs. Kerry issued an apology yesterday afternoon, saying: “I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a school teacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children…[I] am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past.”


But she offered no apology for stating motherhood is not a “real job,” the standard claim of radical feminism. To them, the vital work of shaping the life, personality and values of a human soul is merely another form of patriarchal enslavement. (If “there couldn't be a more important job” than educating other people’s children, does the upbringing of our own children not outshine even that?) The feminist refrain was last heard in public life when Hillary Clinton exploded, “You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.” Mrs. Kerry plans to continue to fulfill her profession in a Kerry White House, as well.


Another Brick in the Wall…


These are but the most recent salvos in a never-ending series of embarrassments the potential first lady has unleashed on her husband’s hapless campaign. Just two weeks ago, Mrs. Kerry stated: “John will never send a boy or girl in a uniform anywhere in the world because of our need and greed for oil.


The week before that she told an audience in her adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, “The Taliban is back running Afghanistan.” This as the Afghan people prepared to elect President Mohammed Karzai in the first presidential election in their history.


She also noted, “Seldom do we think of security in terms of one's job, one's health care benefits, education.” No, no, we don’t.


At a million-dollar Phoenix fundraiser in late September – sponsored in part by the Arizona AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association – she floated the conspiracy theory that the Bush administration had delayed the capture of Osama bin Laden for political purposes. I wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in the next month, she said. Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright pioneered this claim, asking liberal columnist Mort Kondracke, “Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?” In a similar vein, Rep. James McDermott, D-Baghdad, voiced similar statements about the capture of Saddam Hussein months ago, alleging the Bush administration could have captured Saddam “a long time ago if they wanted.


TerAYsa’s words did so much damage John Kerry had to dedicate campaign time to saying he disagreed with his wife’s paranoid ramblings.


At the same fundraiser, she revived the canard that Bush would reinstate the draft.


The trail of ridiculous statements coils on for months. Just before she told a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter to “shove it” this summer, she told Chris Matthews the world is “less safe” now that Saddam has been captured.  When Howard Dean made precisely this charge, John Kerry exploited it to overtake him in the Democratic primaries. Then on the verge of his debutante ball, his wife took Dean’s side of the argument.


In February, she condemned the Bush campaign’s position on gay marriage, denouncing the way “in which they have moved to trap us and, in a sense, terrorize us.”


With a string of statements like this, one wonders if John Kerry still believes he “married up.”


Heinz Kerry’s clueless statements would be unimportant if Heinz Kerry planned to, say, stay at home and bake cookies as first lady. She has no plans to play the shrinking violet now. In addition to keeping her role as head of the Heinz Endowments, she revealed she may have a hand in setting Kerry campaign policy. When asked whether her role in the campaign was limited to shoring up the female vote, she replied, “No, that's not where I come in. I come in everywhere. I come in on foreign policy….”


We fear she is telling the truth.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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