Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Romney Surprise

Much of the media has been focused on Mitt Romney's still-secret tax returns for much of the summer. It's been only recently that the American people finally began to clue in on the fact that Mr. Romney may have something very serious to hide.

Now, finally, with pressure mounting from both directions, the Republican candidate for President is looking more and more desperate. Like a new father holding his baby at arms length - a child with an overflowing diaper - Mitt can't seem to face the fact that the answer to his problems is to take a deep breath, and clean up the mess.

In short, Mitt's been overreacting, crying about being bullied while still stubbornly refusing to present multiple years of his tax returns. That makes Americans believe that Mr. Romney may have something to hide.

The Obama campaign's current tactic has capitalized on that doubt, in a very brutal and direct way. Importantly, the Obama campaign has brought a crucial point to the attention of a growing number of Americans: As voters, we have very little hard data on how Mitt Romney has handled his business or personal finances.

For a candidate who continues to claim that his business experience makes him the best candidate for President, Romney's refusal to present his tax returns simply adds more questions about his conduct and character.

Without Mr. Romney's tax returns to judge whether he's been lying, or to whom, speculation is rampant about what Mr. Romney could be hiding. As conservative stalwart George Will noted, "The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them."

One professional speculation is that Mitt Romney simply may not have paid any federal taxes in 2009, by using offshore tax havens like his accounts in the Caymen Islands. Other expert analysis also notes that Romney could have paid tax rates during the last decade that are FAR lower than the rates paid by most Americans. For a candidate who's made it clear he wants to lower taxes on the wealthiest, while raising everyone else's taxes, such a revelation could be politically deadly for Romney.

Other things Mitt's tax records could reveal include that he made have made even more money from Bain Capital than he's previously claimed, that he may have had to pay some serious fines, that he's got more offshore tax havens we don't know about, or even some problematic deductions.

Hovering over all this is the reminder that Sen. John  McCain picked the incompetent half-term Gov. Sarah Palin over Mitt Romney to be his Vice Presidential running mate four years ago. As McCain noted in an interview on Tuesday, the blunt truth, as McCain saw it, was that Sarah Palin was a better choice than Mitt Romney.

Whatever is in Mr. Romney's past, it must be one hell of a load of... unpleasant stuff, if Mitt would rather run for President with the tag "Sarah Palin was more qualified than me" than simply release his tax returns for the last ten years.

No matter how you look at it, it's going to take a lot of paper for Mitt to clean up this mess.

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