Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is worth almost a quarter billion dollars, has decided that releasing his secret tax returns would be more harmful to his campaign that just riding out the call for transparency. In other words, he’s putting his personal interest (becoming president) over the public interest of giving voters the information they need to make an informed choice in November.
The question isn’t if Romney is hiding something. He most certainly is: he’s hiding his tax returns. He hasn’t released a single year of full tax returns. The question of the hour relates to what is he hiding and why.
Former President Clinton joined a chorus of top Democrats — and Republicans — calling for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to release additional years of tax returns, saying that refusing to release more than two years worth “raises questions about whether [Romney] thinks there should be a different set of rules for him than everybody else.”
“Whatever it is, it couldn’t be as bad as not doing it,” Clinton said in an interview on Thursday with CNN’s Erin Burnett, adding that it’s clear Romney fully complied with the law. “I just can’t figure out why he didn’t do it. I think it’s a mistake. He ought to do it.”
Either Romney has an unresolved father figure issue, or he has some special reason not to follow a tradition established by his father. [...] Romney’s 2010 tax return, when combined with his FEC disclosure, reveals red flags that raise serious tax compliance questions with respect to his possible tax minimization strategies in earlier years. The release in October of his 2011 return will at best act as a distraction from these questions. [...]
The U.S. presidency is a position of immense magnitude and requires a thorough vetting. What the American people deserve is a complete and honest presentation by Romney of how his wealth was accumulated, where it is now invested, what purpose is served by all the various offshore vehicles in which he has an interest and what his financial relationship with Bain Capital has been since his retirement from the company. These are all factors that go to the heart of his character and values.
Elie Mystal at Above The Law:
Romney is trying to spin his tax returns as an example of how “complicated” that tax code is. [...] once you are making millions of dollars a year through various investment vehicles, your taxes are bound to become more complicated than a steelworker’s who is pulling down $ 50K and taking the standard deduction. That’s why millionaires hire lawyers. But what’s really galling about this “oh gosh, oh golly, we need a tax code average Americans can understand” is that the reason Romney’s taxes are so complicated is that people like Romney have been lobbying for loopholes that allow the richest men in America to pay an effective tax rate that’s lower than a legal blogger.
David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times wonders about Romney’s policy positions:
Mitt Romney’s income tax returns may contain some surprises that he does not want the world to know about, but they are hardly his only secrets. His biggest secret, the question he has not answered through the entire campaign, the one that bothers conservatives even more than it irks liberals, is this: Does he believe in anything besides Mormonism and money?
He won in the Republican primaries because he did not hesitate to do whatever it took to destroy his opponents. Now, his campaign aides are saying, off the record, there is no limit to what they will do to beat Barack Obama. The Romney campaign will attack him for the shady friends he may have kept back in Chicago. They will ding him for smoking pot in high school. And, as demonstrated this week by one of Romney’s surrogates, former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, they will try to cast doubt on whether the president is a true American.
The one thing Romney did not do in the primaries and is not doing now is reveal what sort of president he wants to be. Oh, sure, he has put out position papers. Every day on the campaign trail he speaks in generalities about getting government out of the way of business. He is against apologizing for the USA in foreign affairs. But does anyone really know what his economic policy would be or how he would conduct himself as commander-in-chief?
Romney is an enigma.
Timothy Egan at The New York Times:
Romney promises to govern as he invests. He wants to overhaul the tax system so that overseas profits of American corporations would escape United States taxation. This would create an incentive for corporations to shift even more jobs and capital overseas. Obama, by contrast, wants to give tax credits to companies that make new hires in the United States.
A consumer of politics, just like an investor, should practice due diligence. Forget what Romney says about American exceptionalism; look at his American exceptions. Given all the heat he’s taken of late, if Romney could retroactively invest he might plant less of his fortune under other countries’ flags. Alas, it doesn’t work that way, or we’d all own Apple at two bucks a share.
Paul Krugman looks at how the super-rich play the martyrs in our politics (and yes, that includes Mitt Romney):
It’s no secret that, at this point, many of America’s richest men — including some former Obama supporters — hate, just hate, President Obama. Why? Well, according to them, it’s because he “demonizes” business — or as Mitt Romney put it earlier this week, he “attacks success.” Listening to them, you’d think that the president was the second coming of Huey Long, preaching class hatred and the need to soak the rich. [...]
[T]he rich are different from you and me, many of them are incredibly self-centered. They don’t even see how funny it is — how ridiculous they look — when they attribute the weakness of a $ 15 trillion economy to their own hurt feelings. After all, who’s going to tell them? They’re safely ensconced in a bubble of deference and flattery. [...] There are plenty of very rich Americans who have a sense of perspective, who take pride in their achievements without believing that their success entitles them to live by different rules.
But Mitt Romney, it seems, isn’t one of those people. And that discovery may be an even bigger issue than whatever is hidden in those tax returns he won’t release.
U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren on the latest rate-fixing scandal and the culture of Wall Street corruption:
Real accountability would mean prosecuting the traders and bank officials who violated federal laws and prosecuting the executives who knew what they were up to. It would mean forcing executives to pay back any inflated compensation that was based on padded profits. [...]
But the heart of accountability lies deeper. It rests on acknowledging that we cannot trust Wall Street to regulate itself — not in New York, London or anywhere else. The club is corrupt. When Mitt Romney says he will move to repeal all of the new financial regulations, he supports a corrupt system. When members of Congress grill regulators for being too tough on Wall Street and slash the budgets of the regulators charged with overseeing Wall Street, they prop up a corrupt system.
Financial services are critical to the economy. That’s why everyone — every family and every business — has a stake in an honest system. The fantasy that reducing oversight of the biggest banks will make us safer is just that — a dangerous fantasy. The Libor fraud exposes rot at the core. Now, who will stand up to fix it?
Source: Daily Kos