Today The New York Times introduces us to Timothy and Betty Stamp, an average American couple that bucks the idea that Mitt Romney is out to get every single middle-class American ... sort of. As The Times' Mike McIntire explains, because of the housing collapse in the '90s Mitt Romney was left holding the bag on five Houston houses he invested in, which he eventually cashed out on in 1997. Timothy Stamp, a barber, and his wife Betty, a nurse, couldn't afford theirs so Mitt Romney kicked them out and had them shipped to... just kidding. He did nothing of the sort, as McIntire explains:
"Then I got this phone call, personally, from Mr. Romney, asking if we really wanted to buy the house," Mr. Stamps, 63, said in an interview the other day at the barbershop he now runs. "I said, yes we did. And he said he would loan us the money. He really helped us when we needed it."
So, the Stampses have been paying Romney $600 a month for their house for the past 15 years. Nice, right? The Stampses probably won't be part of the "real middle-class Americans" the Obama team plans to use to tarnish Romney's image during the Democratic National Convention on September 3, but there's one part of the Stampses story that makes you wonder what would have happened if this generous act and rather kind New York Times A1 story was all just serendipity. At the heart of it all, Romney was still in it for himself, per McIntire:
The deal, [William Roy] Jolly said, was "a marvelous scheme" to help renters who could not qualify for a mortgage to eventually buy their houses, while allowing investors to write off depreciation and mortgage interest on their taxes without risking their own money: most purchases were 100-percent financed with first and second mortgages from Texas banks.
The prospectus for the investment, called the Gem Plan, played up the tax shelter benefits, saying it was structured "so that deductions are projected to be twice the amount of the cash required each year."
Sure, Romney was a good guy, but he's still a businessman.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.