December 4, 2020

Mitt Romney: Tax dodger extraordinaire

By Kris Parsons

A little over two months ago, Mitt Romney’s business experience seemed to be the core of his campaign and the foundation of his credentials. In a primary debate, he argued that, “Right now, with the American people in the kind of financial crisis they are in, they need someone who knows how to create jobs, and I do.”
While the Republican Party joked that Obama had never seen the inside of a lemonade stand, Romney actually floated the idea of a Constitutional change requiring candidates to have “at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.”
But after an unrelenting beatdown on his personal tax history and his time at Bain Capital, Romney recently told Chuck Todd of NBC that he would like “an agreement” that both campaigns would refrain from “attacks based upon business or family or taxes or things of that nature.” Romney is asking Obama to stop attacking his self-proclaimed superior qualifications for the job.
Romney can’t have it both ways. His business decisions reflect not only his professional ethics but also his economic ethos. His personal tax history exemplifies his belief about federal tax obligations and his refusal to release more than one year of returns is turning into political suicide.
With attacks from the left and disappointed remarks from the right becoming more frequent, why not put it to rest? Why won’t Mitt Romney release more than one year of tax returns? Perhaps they reflect an ideology and privilege alien to most Americans. Whatever the reason, Romney is continuing to allow the Obama campaign and every liberal pundit on MSNBC to dig up even more damaging evidence to support their narrative.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggests he knows. Reid alleges that a Bain investor told him Romney paid no taxes for 10 years, adding, “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son.” George Romney turned over 12 years of tax returns as a presidential candidate in the 1960s, setting a standard for financial transparency. Reid will not reveal his source at Bain Capital but many assumed it was John Huntsman Sr. until he publicly denied the claim. Huntsman, who was Romney’s national finance chair in his 2008 presidential campaign, added, “Mr. Romney ought to square with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate.”
For his part, Romney has said Reid needs to “put up or shut up” and prove his claims. And yet Romney wants the American public to basically take his word — that he has lawfully paid all his taxes. As Rachel Maddow of MSNBC pointed out, if they want to make that claim, they either need to be very trustworthy on the issue or let the American media fact check their claims. Romney has proven himself untrustworthy when it comes to his taxes. He has lost the benefit of the doubt.
Needless to say, the Obama campaign will probably not make any agreement with Romney to stop attacking his taxes and his business activity. They are creating a strong narrative about Romney by painting him as a tax dodger extraordinaire. Romney has lied about his personal tax returns and tax avoidance efforts.
What he has released shows Swiss bank accounts, funds in the Cayman Islands, a real estate tax avoidance deal in Texas and even claiming his wife’s famous horse, Rafalca, which he tried to claim as a business on his 2010 returns. His time at both Bain Capital and now Marriot have been exposed as one tax avoidance scheme after another, mixed in with offloading debt onto companies and running off with outrageous profits.
It remains to be seen if Paul Ryan can pull the narrative back to the issues of their campaign and galvanize the Republican base. Even if the media let the tax and business issues go, I don’t think Romney will like where the spotlight will shine in the coming weeks.

Kris Parsons is the graduate assistant for Institution & Involvement

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