Romney’s Secrecy: Did He Get Away With It?

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Free Thinker, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. In January, in a South Carolina debate just before that state's primary, Newt Gingrich hit Mitt Romney hard for releasing barely any of his tax returns: “Look, he’s got to decide and the people of South Carolina have to decide. But if there’s anything in there that is going to help us lose the election, we should know it before the nomination. And if there’s nothing in there, why not release it?” The audience applauded, and when Gingrich proceeded to trounce Romney at the polls the following Saturday, voters told me that Romney’s secrecy about his tax returns was part of their decision—they didn't necessarily care what tax rate Romney paid, but they didn’t like his declaration that it wasn’t any of their business.

    Back then, it seemed only a matter of time before Romney would buckle to pressure and release a critical mass of returns—if not the 12 years worth that his father released when he ran for president, then at least, say, five or six. But here we are, with just five days until the election, and Romney has released no more than the two years he agreed to release back during the primaries. This has left voters in near-total darkness about basic questions about his very recent past. As tax experts have noted, there are any number of reasons why Romney doesn’t want to release more of his taxes—it’s possible he participated in an IRS amnesty program for secret foreign bank accounts; it’s more possible he gamed the system to avoid taxes on his huge retirement account and his sons’ $100 million trust fund, or that he paid very, very low rates these past couple years as a result of a tax code that favors people like him whose income is mainly taxed as capital gains. (In releasing his belated 2011 returns in September, Romney asserted, without providing any evidence, that he had not paid an effective rate lower than 13 percent during the past decade.) Just this week, Bloomberg News offered a new shred of insight, into the way that Romney used the Mormon church to shelter some of his investment gains from taxes. But the fact is, barring some future leak, we're simply not going to find out what was so worrisome in Romney’s taxes from only a few years ago.

    Not only that, Romney has—unlike candidates Barack Obama, George W. Bush and John McCain—refused to identify his “bundlers,”the hundreds of people who have each raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for him. This has, among other things, spared him the sort of stories that Obama's had to contend with, looking at the unsavory connections and interests of his fundraisers. And, of course, Romney has provided exceedingly scant detail on basic elements of his platform, such as how he proposes to replace the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank law, both of which he says he will do away with, and how he plans to make up the revenue lost from cutting tax rates by 20 percent across the board. The candidate has not answered any questions from reporters in the past three weeks.

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    In essence, Romney has managed to make it through an entire presidential campaign having openly flouted longstanding norms of disclosure by candidates. This raises some important questions, ones I'm surprised are not being asked more widely in the campaign’s closing days (among the few to do so was veteran political correspondent Tom Edsall, with this sharp critique last week). For the campaign press: how could it have allowed Romney to get away with stiffing it, and has it allowed him to establish a damaging precedent for future candidates? For the Obama campaign: could it have done a better job of prodding Romney into disclosure? And for Romney himself: was the secrecy really worth it?
  2. did he get away with it? i would say no. there is no doubt he could be leading if he were not such a slimey character:
    Barack Obama
    +8.0 since Oct. 24

    Mitt Romney
    -8.0 since Oct. 24

    Mitt Romney
    -9.6 since Oct. 24

    Barack Obama
    +9.6 since Oct. 24