Saturday, August 4, 2012

Who needs to put up or shut up?

This past Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reported that an unnamed Bain source told him that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes for 10 years. The Romney camp is smart enough to realize that for a few days they might be able to change the story about Mitt Romney's refusal to release more than one year's tax returns, to a story about Harry Reid's unsubstantiated charges and reckless accusations.

But I want to ask why it should be Harry Reid who has to put up or shut up now, as Romney demanded on Sean Hannity's radio show on Thursday. Is the identity of the Bain source important to the American people? Of course not. What is important is why Mitt Romney is hiding important information about his financial background. What is important is to have a better understanding of the way Mitt Romney conducted his business and personal finances, especially considering that Romney's main claimed qualification to be president is his business savvy. What is also important is to know how Mitt Romney's tax plan would affect a person like say, Mitt Romney.

And what is interesting about Romney's reaction to the Harry Reid incident is that all Romney cares about is the identity of the person who ratted on him. It is also interesting that Romney expects that the American people should just take him at his word that he paid taxes all those years. (Let me note to make the issue absolutely clear that the question is not just whether Romney paid everything that was owed, but whether he paid taxes in all those missing years. We understand there could be legitimate reasons why a person might not owe any taxes in any particular year, but if that is the case, we still want to know about it. If for no other reason, it would be helpful to any debate about tax reform for voters to have a better understanding of the strategies that are available to high income families to reduce their income tax liability.)

These are questions that can only be settled by releasing the returns. They cannot be settled by anything Harry Reid can say about his sources, or by anything that Reid's source might say. So isn't it rather odd that it is Senator Reid who is being asked to put up or shut up, when the person who really needs to put up or shut up is Mitt Romney?

And can I say, that the attacks on Harry Reid seem especially unfair after Romney spent a considerable amount of time consorting with someone like Donald Trump, who did not think the American people should accept the official record of the State of Hawaii attesting to President Obama's birth, a record that would have been admitted as proof of citizenship in every court in this country, and who demanded that the president release a more detailed record before he could legitimately seek re-election. Given the standards that the Republicans demand of Barack Obama, why should anyone accept Romney's word that he paid taxes, instead of demanding that he make the kind of full financial disclosure that presidential candidates are expected to make?

Mitt Romney, where do you get the idea that OTHER people need to to "put up or shut up," but you do not?

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