Higgins: It’s all a bit taxingWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a fair amount of furor (at least in the media) surrounding the tax returns of the Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney. Many from both sides of the aisle are calling for Mr. Romney to release more of his tax returns, though for vastly different reasons. I won’t go into them, in part because I don’t care; but mostly because I don’t think they matter.
To start with, if there were some real peril in recent returns of candidate Romney, I’m sure that it would have been uncovered during his 2008 vetting as potential VP by the McCain campaign. If you don’t trust the competency of McCain’s band of merry men however (and who does), then trust the diligent drones of the IRS; who would have discovered any missteps and had him in Federal Court if anything was wrong. (You know, like they did with Berkshire Hathaway, the company of that paragon of ‘paying his fair share’ Warren Buffet; which is currently working with the Feds over unpaid taxes going back to 2002 that look to total some $1 billion.)
Since Mitt Romney is part of the 1% that pays a great deal of the taxes in this nation, I have no doubt that Mr. Romney has a very good team of lawyers and tax accountants that scrutinize his income, investments, and tax returns to insure that he is paying every bit of tax that he is obligated to pay, and not one penny more.
But perhaps you’re unhappy with this argument, and even if true, one doesn’t justify the other. Perhaps you believe that there’s a ‘moral obligation’ for a political candidate to pay his due in taxes. (Wow, using moral obligation in not only the same sentence as political candidate, but in the same one as taxes! Sometimes I crack myself up.) I mean let’s face it folks, the national pastime in this country isn’t in fact baseball, but trying to beat the IRS for a nickel. Even that paragon of progressive economics John Maynard Keynes said: “The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.”
Most of the media and the political left however support the President’s current attack strategy, and have trotted out that hackneyed question, “If Mitt Romney has nothing to hide, why not release the returns and put the issue to rest?” Not being a political operative (or having played one on TV), might I suggest a couple of reasons:
- Having fulfilled his obligation to release his most recent returns, Romney sees no point in caving to constant demands for more. (I like this one, as it portrays a political candidate with a spine. It’s therefore unlikely to be the real reason.)
- Romney is actually working on a ‘quid pro quo’ strategy in which he plans to offer to release additional returns in exchange for release of the ‘Fast and Furious’ documents currently being held under Executive Privilege or for the President’s college transcripts. (This one’s amusing, but far too conspiratorial, and would probably require Romney to wear a tinfoil hat and mess up his hair.)
- Romney is too pig-headed to realize that his campaign is going down the tubes by withholding these returns and will no doubt lose the election because of it. (I don’t give this one too much credence, but refuse to underestimate a Republican’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.)
- Romney realizes that he could put this whole issue to bed overnight by releasing more of his returns, but then he’d have to deal with whatever the President’s campaign staff has next on the agenda to attack him with, and he prefers the devil he knows to the one he doesn’t. (This isn’t Romney’s first rodeo, and might hold potential.
As for me, I prefer focusing instead on many of the Congressional incumbents running for office that refuse to release their returns after having become millionaires on a $175,000 per year salary through ‘shrewd investments’ based on inside information that would have landed evil Wall Street villains in Federal prison. I think about the golden parachute many of them look forward to in a Congressional retirement plan that’s the envy of the public and private sector alik
As far as taxes are concerned, I’m more concerned about what I will be paying next year than any returns that Romney hasn’t already shown us. I’ve little interest in them in fact, in an election that’s supposed to be about shaping this nation for future economic growth and a return to greater employment. The truth of the matter is that this presidential campaign has been a bit too taxing already without focusing on the distraction of candidate Romney’s returns.