Mitt Romney is not obligated to respond to Democratic demands that he release more than two years of his tax returns. He does, however, owe assurances to the delegates who will gather at the GOP convention in Tampa next month that their party nominee’s taxpaying history will not pull down Republicans in the fall.
True, there may nothing to hide in Romney’s tax returns, no questionable activities in the Swiss bank account he once held, no examples of gaming of the U.S. tax code, no politically embarrassing offshore investments.
But as Newt Gingrich said when asked during the debate in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary if Romney should release 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 — if there’s nothing in there, why not release it?”
Republicans have the most to lose if Romney is hiding something that is truly damaging. Finding out after the convention will be too late.
Fending off calls to release more tax records, Romney said, “I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about.”
Romney and his supporters are no political slouchers. With their vast campaign coffers, they should have no trouble shooting down distortions and lies.
The GOP, more than Democrats, should understand Romney’s finances. After all, they, not the opposition, will have to promote and defend their standard bearer.
The New York Times quoted Alvin Stephens, a marketing student in Bowling Green, who dismissed Romney’s argument that his tax matters and the source of his wealth are private.
“It’s his business, but it’s also our business, too, because we’re going to be trusting him with everything we are as a people,” Stephens said. “It would be nice to know why isn’t all his money in the United States. Why aren’t all of his investments staying in the United States paying for jobs in the United States?”
Republican conventioneers likely will want to know the same thing.