Mitt Romney’s failure to produce tax returns underlines a significant reason why he should not be president.
In 2008, in an attempt to suck up to John McCain and be named the GOP’s candidate for VP, Romney provided 23 years of his income tax returns to McCain’s people. That is according to Steve Schmidt, a chief member of the McCain campaign team. Since that was reported at least one week ago, I have not heard anyone from Romney’s camp deny that claim.
At the end of the 2008 election, Romney probably knew he would throw his hat—although I never have seen him wear a hat, so this is a figurative use of the word—into the ring for 2012. His father, over 40 years ago, made a point of disclosing his tax returns.
If Romney, or the people who re closest to him in his campaign, are not smart enough to have anticipated this flap four years ago, how can they be expected to be smart enough to handle the decisions to be made in the White House?
Of course, we always can turn to the question of why should he disclose his tax returns. There is no law that requires disclosure. Several reasons make the matter politically important. First, the other candidates for the office of President of the United States have done so. Second, they have done so since Romney’s father made a point of disclosing his income tax returns. Third, Romney has made a point of touting his business "savvy" as the reason to elect him. An income tax return is a means by which one can determine how successful the guy has been in business.
There are reasons why Mitt might not want to disclose those tax returns.
First, he might not have paid a whole lot in income tax. That might call into question his patriotism—is he really an American? Second, in the 1990s, when he tried to cater to people more "left of center" than those to whom he now tries to cater, he might have contributed, and taken deductions for, not-for-profits to which part of the GOP base might take umbrage. One columnist speculated what a mid-1990s contribution to NARAL (that is an organization that protects women’s rights to abortion) would do to Romney’s already-tenuous from evangelical Christians. Third, there might be a delineation of how much money he has overseas. I know it’s perfectly legal to keep money in a bank in Switzerland or the Caymans or Bermuda. It also is a means by which people avoid payment of taxes. I think some people would take umbrage with an occupant of the Oval Office who has avoided paying taxes when he could by putting money overseas.
Most importantly, this was a problem the Romney campaign saw down the road. The people in that campaign could have planned for it as meticulously as they have planned his down-home chats with people over picnic tables. Yes, there was a little sarcasm. Multiple-choice Mitt Romney will take any position necessary to win an election, but he is not bright enough to plan for the obvious. I doubt he would be bright enough to plan daily matters required of the President of the United States.
Besides, if he was willing to show 23 years of returns to John McCain get the Number Two job, he should be willing to show the same number to the American people for the Number One job.