Mitt Romney’s release Tuesday of his most recent tax returns — showing accounts in the tax-haven Cayman Islands and Switzerland, no visible signs of a job (but earning $20-plus million a year) and paying only 14 percent in taxes — have been great fodder for his opponents and the media.
But that’s just his returns for 2010 and 2011. And he emphatically insists he will release no more.
Look for a flip-flop here.
Pressure will surely build for more records. His opponents and the media will start the always annoying “What- is-he- hiding?” drumbeat.
Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of his tax returns when, though he was born in Mexico, he ran for president in 1968.
“One year could be a fluke,” he explained then, “perhaps done for show.” Two years is only slightly less flukey.
Romney originally said he would “probably” release his returns in April since that’s when past candidates tended do so.
But, as Politifact reported, that’s only partly true, noting that many candidates did so long before April of the election year, led by Bob Dole, who released 30 years’ worth of his returns in January 1996.
And Romney gave 23 (that’s twenty-three) years of his returns to Sen. John McCain in 2008 when he was trying to be picked as McCain’s running-mate. (Unclear if McCain picked Sarah Palin because of, or spite of, that information.)
Detractors will sniff it’s not readily apparent why McCain and his staff should be privy to that information but the American people have no right to see them. He is “running for office for Pete’s sake,” as he told a lawn company manager. The Democrats are already pounding him to cough up those returns.
The problem is if Romney releases the returns he gave McCain, the pressure will only intensify for the two remaining years, 2008 and 2009, when the economy went into a tailspin and millions lost their homes and jobs. They’ll be called “the lost years,” likened to the Nixon tapes 18-1/2 -minute gap and such.
Some folks think those returns could be devastating to him. But maybe not. Let’s see. . .
Okay, got it. Let’s say they show that he made millions betting against the market — there’s an investment in one fund during the lost years that suggests that was the case. But that would only go to prove his keen business acumen is not limited to consulting and that he really understands the economy and what makes it tick.
Or, conversely, Romney, already jobless and living off his savings, may have gotten hammered just like most everyone else, enabling him to show that he truly relates to the 99 percent and permitting a Clinton “I feel your pain” riff on the stump, which would do much to counter feelings that his immense fortune isolates him from the concerns of average Americans. “You think YOU lost money,” he could say, “I lost $50 million!”
A veritable win-win!