Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shiny Distrations & Smoke Signals

After a flood of records and documents about Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan filled the media on Monday, inevitably, some pants-on-fire lies from both ends of the standard political spectrum were sure to surface. Both the liberal rumor that Paul Ryan had engaged in insider trading, and the conservative lie that Ryan was ever a bipartisan leader were swiftly debunked.

The flood of new stories about Paul Ryan had another effect too. The stories that focused on Mitt Romney still refusing to show his tax returns to the American people got put to the back of the proverbial stack, as so many media lapdogs chased the shiny new V.P. stories.

This is exactly why we're turning our attention back to the pants-on-fire lies the Romney campaign still hasn't answered about Mitt's tax returns. Contrary to the fearful whining of right-wing partisans, Mr. Romney's tax returns ARE a substantive issue, for multiple reasons - primarily credibility.

Candidate Romney has insisted since nearly the beginning of 2012 that he hadn't ever paid an income tax rate of less than 14%. However, during an interview at the end of July, Romney told ABC News' David Muir that he was unsure if he'd ever paid less than "13.9%". Romney promised to get back to Muir - but has yet to do so.

When Mr. Romney picked Paul Ryan as a running mate, the Ryan budget that Romney has said - more than once - that he would sign, became another key piece of this burning credibility question.

To answer the question, economics and business reporter Matthew O'Brian sat down with the only tax return the Romney campaign has released so far, and the Ryan budget plan, to figure out what Mitt would pay under his running mate's proposal. Under the Ryan budget plan, Romney and wealthy Americans like him would pay way less than 14%. Try 0.82 percent. That's less than one percent - a perfect allegory for Romney, Ryan and company.

For the record, we - and millions of other Americans - would be very interested not only to see Mr. Romney's more recent tax returns. We'd also love to see how Mitt's returns compared to the accounting records from Bain Capitol for the years 1999 through 2002.

The goal isn't to see the exact numbers from Romney's taxes. The goal is to find out how honest Mr. Romney is and has been about a subject like taxes - and whether or not Romney truly shows, through his actions, that he believes that "all men are created equal."

We're willing to blow off as a miscommunication the Romney campaign's claim their candidate had to skip a planned event in Florida Monday night due to exhaustion - even though Mitt was caught exercising at his hotel later that same evening.

However, when the Romney campaign asked those it was considering as a potential Vice Presidential running mate for more than two years of their tax returns? Yet he still refuses to give Americans the same documents so that we can consider whether we want to hire him?

That kind of double standard causes us to seriously question Mr. Romney's credibility, as it should for any honest American.

Sadly, many of our media colleagues won't be chasing this story today. They've already been distracted by the actions of the Romney campaign bringing Rep. Ryan on board.

We still smell smoke, however.
And where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

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