In what is becoming a bit of a habit, Mitt Romney managed to release some highly sought information Friday in a way that multiplied the questions he faces by a factor of, approximately, two gazillion.
What he released were his 2011 tax returns, along with an oddly worded statement from his tax people, Price Waterhouse Coopers, saying that the Republican presidential candidate had paid taxes annually over the years from 1990 to 2009, never paid less than 13.66 percent in federal taxes over that period, and gave an average of just over 13 percent to charity.
The 2011 returns showed he paid $1.95 million on $13.7 million in income (kind of a down year for the big fella after he earlier estimated he’d make $21 million and pay about $3.2 million to Uncle Sam).
So why do these new revelations create more questions than they answer? I can think of three reasons so far (but it’s early).
1) What, exactly, does it say when you release a statement from an auditor about your income and tax liability over a 20-year period, but absolutely refuse to release the tax returns themselves? It says, at least to a cynical journalist, “There is information about my taxes, most of it general, that I don’t mind you having, so here it is. There is other information I that I cannot let you see, most of it more specific, so that will remain hidden in the ceiling of the elevator I use to transport my cars from floor to floor in my garage. One of my garages.”
2) Why in the world would Romney decide to pay more than he had to? According to the candidate, he overpaid by about $262,000, because he claimed a charitable deduction of only $2.25 million despite having given away just over $4 million. The move made his rate for the year 14.1 percent, and Romney said he did it to stay in line with a statement he made earlier this year that he’s paid at least 13 percent in each of the past 10 years. Okay, but not doing your taxes properly in order to keep a pledge that you’d (essentially) pay a rate at least half as high as the average upper-middle class wage earner makes you look neither smart nor heavily taxed. It makes you look odd, and the idea that you can afford to throw the government an extra $262,500 makes it even harder for folks to relate to you.
3) Why, after saying in a primary debate in January “I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes,” would Romney, a candidate for president of the United States, pay more taxes than he owes.
I know this post is going to create a whole “You mainstream media just attack Romney because you drank the Obama Kool-Aid (now that’s a flavor that would sell) and you can’t see that if he’s re-elected this place will basically be Cuba by the following Tuesday,” but that’s not the case.
Romney created the situation, by refusing to release his returns. His father, his hero, was the presidential candidate who first created the tradition by releasing 12 years of full returns. The media didn’t make George Romney open up his files, nor did it make Mitt Romney clamp down on his.
Mitt Romney should have released seven years of full returns when he became the nominee. He didn’t, and he keeps putting out weird crypto-facts instead of those seven years of returns. Every time he does that, he makes the situation look worse.