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Vaulting Ambition

© Jim Morin

Considering that Mitt Romney’s father said politicians running for president should release 12 years of tax returns, and that Mitt himself, when he was running for the Senate against Edward Kennedy, called for Kennedy to release his tax returns, that there must be some really embarrassing reason why Romney won’t release his.

UPDATE: The blog-o-sphere (including Markos of the Daily Kos and others) is speculating on the identity of the person who told Harry Reid that Romney hadn’t paid any taxes. The fingers are pointing at the father of former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

UPDATE 2: Jon Huntsman Sr. denies that he is Harry Reid’s source, or that he even knows anything about Romney’s tax returns. Nevertheless, he feels that Romney should release more tax returns, saying “I feel very badly that Mitt won’t release his taxes and won’t be fair with the American people.”



  1. Brandon wrote:

    Ooh, I hope this becomes the left’s equivalent of the birth certificate. We already know the guy barely pays any taxes, I don’t know what he could be hiding.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  2. Jonah wrote:

    Perhaps I haven’t been watching as much TV these days but it feels like the media has put this issue behind and moved onto more important issues such as are the olympic uniforms patriotic enough. I for one would like to see this issue on the front page until the day before the election. It’s an important issue because it important to know since the next president will likely have to work on tax reform and understanding what Romney did in his tax returns would help clarify how he would handle tax reform. If he exploited every loophole in the book then he clearly does not deserve to be the president.

    One thing that the media could do is to interview John Mccain and ask his opinion on this. He definitely would have seen Romneys returns and he should be asked whether there is anything there that made him choose Sarah Palin over Romney. After all the economy wasn’t doing too well well Mccain chose Palin. If Romney wasn’t good enough to be the VP then why is he good enough to be the president now?

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    I believe that McCain has already said that Romney should release his tax returns, and said that Romney’s tax returns were not a factor in picking Palin. But I can’t remember where I saw that.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  4. Scott wrote:

    Slightly disagree with Jonah. Exploiting every loophole should not disqualify him from the presidency — but it should give the vast majority of us who don’t have the need to exploit those loopholes, an idea of the kind of tax policy he’ll most likely tend to favor keeping just as it is.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  5. Jonah wrote:

    Not every president is perfect but if he did exploit every loophole why should he be trusted to implement a tax reform policy that’s fair to everyone. Moreover is he a good example for others to follow? If the president cheats (legally) on his taxes why shouldn’t we?

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  6. Arthanyel wrote:

    I posted on another thread that one possibility is that Romney used the Swiss Bank Amnesty in 2009 to avoid criminal penalties for illegally hiding money from taxation in his Swiss Bank account (which he closed in early 2010). I still believe that is a very likely explanation. I wouldn’t mind seeing how he got a 100M IRA either, given that with contribution limits it should be more like 100K

    But the bottom line is he is desperate to keep it hidden, which tells us what we need to know.

    Jonah – it’s not been “put behind us” the Harry Reid statements keeping it on the front burner were the major political news topic this last weekend.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  7. jonah wrote:

    Arthanyel, if romney’s tax return is still a major news item that’s good. I don’t recall it being a prominent issue for the last few days until Reid brought it up again.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  8. David Freeman wrote:

    Jonah re: “If the president cheats (legally) on his taxes why shouldn’t we?”

    The problem with folks like Romney using every legal deduction is that folks like Romney have made sure that the tax code is complicated enough that only folks like Romney can really take advantage of the various legal deductions and loopholes. They can afford the accountants and specialized lawyers because the payoff is so big. It doesn’t make sense for me to pay $10,000 to reduce my taxes by $1000 but he can pay $100,000 to save a million.

    This even applies to so called middle-class deductions like home loan interest. When I bought my first home in Houston for $40,000 the realtor told me we’d save hundreds each month from the tax deduction. It was over 10 years before I started earning enough to itemize deductions so I got no benefit.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    Exactly. Loopholes only pay if you can afford the lawyers and accountants to take advantage of them. That is precisely the problem.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  10. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I don’t believe there is anything illegal in his tax returns, but I do think that it will widen the chasm between him and the ‘average joe’ voter. It will hurt his campaigns claims about overtaxation and their efforts to reduce taxes on the top brackets. And I think that is why he won’t release it.

    But more to the point, I think this is actually a very bad line for the left to run down. Even though I don’t think they are the same, I will offer the same defense as I did to Obama during the whole (and continuing) birth certificate debacle: until he is legally required to release information, he doesn’t have to do a damn thing. If people don’t like it, they won’t vote for him. Should he release them? Perhaps, but only if he thinks it will win him the election. Because when you are campaigning, that’s the goal. If he thinks it will hurt him, why would he do it?

    It is just that simple. I think this is bad, not only because the justification isn’t there, but because this will muddy the waters between this and the birthers, or the people demanding Obama’s college transcript. Again, I don’t think these are equivalent things, but it is too easy to draw the connections.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  11. Jonah wrote:

    David, Iron Knee,
    I’m not sure what point you’ll are trying to make. Is the point that it’s ok to use loopholes but not everyone can use them because of their financial status?

    I’m not seeing why the financial status of someone should matter. There are loopholes in tax laws but people shouldn’t be encouraged to exploit them.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink
  12. ebdoug wrote:

    Financial status matters a lot if the money was gained by shipping jobs overseas and hurting our country.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  13. David Freeman wrote:

    Oops, Jonah I misread your sentence and incorrectly thought you said “why shouldn’t he be trusted?”. If I had read you correctly, I still would have made the same point but I would have worded it in a way that expanded on your point since apparently we actually agree. Bottom line, only the wealthy can really take advantage of most legal loopholes and the benefits of chasing loopholes are meager for the middle class.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  14. ptgoodman wrote:

    I doubt that Romney did anything illegal. The question is whether or not he exploited every conceivable method, ordinary and extra-ordinary, of avoiding the payment of taxes. How did he get so much money in a 401k? It seems likely that he exploited loopholes in the tax code, where I define a “loophole” as something that is not even addressed in the tax code, which only tax lawyers know about, and that the people at H&R Block who you might use do not know anything about. Did Romney take advantage of loopholes not available to the rest of us?

    I goes w/o saying that I would not vote for Romney or any other Republican for the foreseeable future. I won’t change until they do. They do not represent me, they do not represent the working people of the U.S., they represent protect only the interests of the wealthy.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  15. Jonah wrote:

    David, Actually my point was more about not exploiting imperfect tax laws. For example, if Mitt Romney artificially reduced the value of his Bain shares so that he could place them in a Roth IRA where its value could increase tax free then he was making use of a loophole to exploit a tax law (the Roth IRA) that was created to encourage people less privileged than Romney to save for retirement.

    Here’s another example of a wealthy guy exploiting the law albeit not for tax reasons but it sort of gets to the point i’m trying to make

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink
  16. wildwood wrote:

    To Jonah,if the loopholes are there then it’s not cheating. But artificially listing Bain shares at an incorrect cost is possibly illegal.

    And to PTGoodman, the Swiss amnesty was to avoid penalties for “criminal” activities. This seems, if not the most likely reason for not showing his tax returns, it’s certainly in the top two or three reasons.

    He is obviously hiding something, and electing him president is like putting the fox in the hen house.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  17. ZIP-ZERO-NADA wrote:

    Romney is a rich man, of that there is no doubt. But regardless of his personal wealth, his tax records should be made public because they speak to his CHARACTER as a human being, an American, and as a candidate for being the leader of the greatest nation on Earth. I don’t begrudge him his wealth; in fact it may demonstrate his qualities as a successful capitalist. But the means by which he acquires and protects his wealth should be very much in play for this election. Since when is QUALITY OF CHARACTER not a criteria for earning the job of President of the United States of America?

    That said, I would be interested to know if there is a precedent for candidates disclosing personal income tax returns. Did Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan all disclose their tax returns prior to their respective election to office? ((Sorry if this info is already public record – I didn’t research it)).

    CHARACTER. This will inform voters on the quality of the person that is the candidate, and should be in play.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  18. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yes, to find a presidential candidate who has released fewer tax returns than Romney, you have to go back to Gerald Ford. Ford did not release any returns, but he did release summary data for 1966 to 1975 (10 years). Bob Dole released 29 years of his tax returns.

    John McCain only released two full years, but he released more information about his returns than Romney (including his wife’s returns and their family foundation’s returns). Also, McCain had been a senator for so long, we already knew quite a bit about his finances (because of FEC disclosure laws).

    What makes this particularly hypocritical is that Romney is campaigning on the claim that taxes on the rich are too high and we need to cut them. He should put up or shut up.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  19. Iron Knee wrote:

    I should mention, the precedent for presidents (and vice presidents) disclosing their tax returns really got rolling after Spiro Agnew (Nixon’s VP) pleaded no contest to tax evasion in 1973 and had to resign. That’s how Gerald Ford became VP. The precedent is not just to release tax returns from before the election, but since then all sitting presidents and VPs) have released tax returns each year during their terms.

    And when vetting Mitt Romney as his potential VP, McCain required 23 years of tax returns. Of course, nobody else has seen them, and as we know McCain did not pick Romney.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

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