Thursday, August 02, 2012

On Romney's tax returns

Mitt Romney has stubbornly clung to the notion that he will reveal only two years worth of his federal tax returns. The President's surrogates are eating this up; they hope he never gives in.

Chances are, of course, that the reason Romney is reluctant to open up his tax records is (as the Democrats speculate) that there have been years where he's paid little or no income tax.

Romney doesn't earn money from wages; his money comes from investments. His investment income is taxed at a different, lower rate than comparable amounts of wages. Whatever those amounts might be.

Some years Romney's investments may have fared better than others -- even the very, very rich felt some pain from the Great Recession. If his investments fared poorly in a given year, he may have been able to reduce or eliminate his taxes by following good, sound, prudent advice from this tax lawyers.

He can afford good tax lawyers.

The other area where the speculators are running rampant is in connection with Romney's disassociation from Bain Capital. Romney apparently kept his titles in the company even after relinquishing day-to-day management responsibilities to work on the Salt Lake City Olympics. Maybe he was planning on coming back; maybe he kept his titles as security that he'd receive all the money he expected from the sale of his interest in the company. This makes a difference because Bain Capital indulged in some relocation of American jobs overseas -- but only after (Romney says) he was no longer running the company.

Again, I'm certain that Mr. Romney received excellent legal advice and he committed absolutely no "crime" in signing documents as Bain's president or CEO or whatever after he was allegedly no longer involved with the company's daily affairs.

You'd think that a rich man like Mr. Romney could afford good PR advice to go along with all that sound legal advice.

Right now, however, whoever Romney is paying to manage this issue is either incompetent or secretly working hand-in-glove with David Axelrod.

Romney should turn over the tax returns right now -- yesterday, in fact -- and if he wants to orchestrate the release with the simultaneous release of explanatory letters from tax lawyers or the lawyers who handled his Bain buyout, that's fine too. But Romney should stop stalling and put the returns in play.

Yes, the Democrats will rail about how rich Romney really is. That will have legs for about a day. The American people already know that Romney is rich. Americans don't hate rich people; Americans want to be rich people.

About the only folks who might be angry with Romney for disclosing his tax returns are his fellow billionaires. Think about it: Romney may not be punished by voters for paying in accordance with our crazy tax code -- but whoever wins in November will have to deal with the increasing clamor for some 'shared sacrifice' in the Internal Revenue Code. Romney's returns may not kill his campaign, but they may provide solid fuel for those who argue that the super-rich need to pay a more equitable share of the nation's taxes. Romney's fellow billionaires might not like having solid evidence of just how lightly the tax burden might fall on the super-rich.

Here's a newsflash for you, Gov. Romney: Your fellow billionaires don't like you anyway. Messrs. Soros and Buffett won't vote for you no matter what; most of the others -- even though they also don't like you -- won't vote for Mr. Obama (no matter what). So stop worrying about them and release your tax returns... unless you're working hand-in-glove with Axelrod, too?

Is that too paranoid? Can a student of American politics really ever be too paranoid?

1 comment:

Rob said...

I tend to agree with you - Romney is not playing a smart PR game at all.

But on a similar note - albeit not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison - why should Romney feel compelled to release more than the legally-required 2 years of tax docs when Obama withheld documentation that would've ended the whole "birther" controversy for several years.

Wrong or right - rational or not - I posit that Obama did more to set back the "cause" for African-American leaders with that single move than all of his professional accomplishments have done for said "cause" combined. And I've yet to wrap my admittedly-small brain around why he didn't shut the "birthers" up long before he was sitting in the Oval Office.