For more than 40 years, presidential candidates have released multiple years of tax forms. Usually 10 years or more. It was a practice started by George Romney — Mitt’s dad — when he himself was running for president in 1968.
Mitt, on the other hand, has opted to release only one year so far, for 2010. And it’s causing him all kinds of trouble. My advice to Mitt — just release them, release them now, and get it over with.
Senator Harry Reid caused a spike in chatter about this issue recently, when he said a source told him that Romney had in fact not paid taxes for 10 years. Reid said it was a credible source, but admitted that he was just told this, and not shown any proof. Romney expressed outrage, indignation, etc., etc., etc.
But here’s the thing — Mitt Romney could clear this up in about 30 seconds by just releasing the forms. If Reid is wrong, so be it! And if Reid is right, let Romney offer a reasonable explanation. If he had a particularly good accountant, well, it’ll be a story for a few days, and then die out. The odds that he did something illegal are pretty slim. After all, who the hell is going to report something illegal on the tax forms? That’s exactly what a lawbreaker would NOT do.
So the question remains — why the heck won’t Romney release them? I’d understand, and probably back him up, if he had just said, “I’m not going to release ANY forms, because it’s none of your damned business! You don’t like it, don’t vote for me!” The issue would’ve probably died right there, I honestly believe (picture Chris Christie saying it, and you get the picture).
But once you’ve released one or two, it’s hard to stand on principle. It’s like saying, “I am a STRICT vegetarian, except for these two cheeseburgers I’m eating.” It just doesn’t make sense.
Which leaves everyone wondering — what the hell IS he hiding?
It’s like one of those horror movies, where the hotel manager says, “Welcome to the hotel, please enjoy yourself. Just stay out of ROOM 23!!!” Well, of course, everyone is going to wonder what the hell is in room 23, and imagine the worst. That’s what’s going on right now.
And it’s understandable, since what we do know about Romney’s finances is a bit unusual. Swiss bank accounts, Cayman accounts, $100 million in an IRA, a $77,000 deduction for a dancing horse… look, there may be nothing wrong with it, but it raises questions. Some of which could be answered by the release of Romney’s tax forms.
Is it an unreasonable request? Not really, as it’s been par for the course for 40 years, and Romney surely has known it was coming. And it’s not like voters are asking for a cavity search, they just want a fuller accounting of the guy’s financial practices before voting to put his finger on the button.
And to be blunt, Mitt Romney asking us to “trust” him is a little bit of a stretch, given that he’s flip flopped on so many issues — and even on whether he’d release the forms themselves. Frankly, Romney’s positions are much like the San Francisco weather — if you don’t like them, just wait 10 minutes.
Plus, John McCain, whose 2008 campaign actually DID see Romney’s tax forms, is yet to refute Reid’s claim. So, people are left to wonder.
We posted a question on Facebook, asking people to speculate what he was hiding — and got over 1,000 responses in the first few hours. Clearly, people are paying attention, and clearly, this is not going away soon.
Finally, Ben Franklin had a saying, “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.” Whatever Romney is hiding is going to come out at some point. Better now, in August, than an October surprise just days before the election. I’m sure an army of accountants worked on his taxes. One of them is going to talk at some point. According to Reid, one of them already has.
Mitt Romney is hurting himself and his party by not releasing the forms. This issue is not going way.
Dear Mitt: Just release the tax forms already.