Transparency, Is That What We Need?

Democrats, many Republicans, and the media are banging on Mitt Romney to disclose more years of his tax returns.  Mitt says, “nope, 2 years are enough”.  End of story?

The question is why should he release more returns and what’s at stake if he doesn’t.

The answer to those questions is it depends upon whether you are Mitt Romney or not.  If you are Mitt Romney, you can conclude that what you have already released is sufficient to understand his financial connections.  To release more years will not show him to have gained sudden wealth or to paid any higher a 14% tax rate (some pundits speculate that Romney may have had years of 0%).  Releasing more returns would just raise more questions when his objective is to discuss President Obama and the economy, not his tax returns.

If you are not Mitt Romney, you might like to know more about how he has accumulated his wealth.  What complex financial instruments has  he used to pass money from Bain to himself, or where has he invested off-shore (at favorable tax levels).  In essence, what legal tax tricks has Mitt used to make a lot of money and pay very little taxes?

Discovery would almost certainly reveal that the tax code is highly tipped in the super rich’s direction.  That would lead quickly to how can he, in good conscious, favor more tax reductions for the rich while cutting social services for those who can’t afford the tax breaks he receives.

So what should Romney do?

Let’s use Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as guides.  They have both called for the releasing more years, and criticized Romney’s character for not releasing.  “What is he hiding” they infer.  But wait.  How many years of tax returns have either of them released?

None!

Mitt’s father George Romney released 12 years of returns.  John McCain released 2.  Releasing multiple returns tells the public whether you are a wealthy person and gives an indication of how you made your wealth.  In Mitt Romney’s case, releasing more returns will almost certain parade before America the vastly different set of rules the very rich have, compared to the middle class.  Mitt is thinking that is not a good idea.

My guess is that Mitt will not release more years.  He will say he is following recent precedent and take the heat.  The IRS is charged with ensuring Romney’s return meets the tax code standards.  Public release is about satisfying public curiosity, not whether Romney cheated on his returns.

The tax return issue has morphed into a huge hypocrisy subject.  Standing tall, Romney says his returns are absolutely consistent with the law.  He is proud of his 14% tax bracket even though that is well below the average person’s.

He is just as confident that further tax reductions are necessary and social safety net programs need to be cut to accommodate these proposed tax reductions.

Look me in the eye and say that.

 

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