I have a policy against LOLing at Ann Romney. After three and a half years of enduring conservative trolls who defame the First Lady, I figure the least I can do is avoid matching their incivility with mutually assured degradation. But Mrs. Romney tested this policy last week when asked on ABC’s “Good Morning America” why her husband won’t release their tax returns.
Now, Mrs. Romney is not alone in offering a feeble excuse for why Mitt won’t release the customary number of tax returns set by his father — which would be twelve years. Earlier in the week, Mitt himself pointed out that Theresa Heinz Kerry didn’t release her tax returns in 2004 (proving he’s qualified to be John Kerry’s wife). Then Romney surrogate John Sununu embarrassed himself on television by descending into a rant where he called the President “un-American.” (If that were true, wouldn’t Mitt Romney be investing in him?)
Mitt’s evasiveness left his wife in a bind. Mrs. Romney told “Good Morning America” that her husband wouldn’t be releasing his tax returns because “We’ve given all you people need to know.” Now there is some debate about whether she actually said “you people,” a phrase that’s reminiscent of classic quips by Ross Perot and Marie Antoinette. Yet her message was clear: Be happy with what we’ve given you, people. You’re not getting any more.
The same dismissive arrogance has undergirded Mitt Romney’s message for as long as he’s been in public life: You’re not entitled to know what I’ve done and will do. Why? Because I’m Mitt Romney!
This is how Mitt justifies breaking a bipartisan tradition of releasing the names of his campaign bundlers who are raising millions for him. This is how he justifies releasing a tax plan that gives away trillions in tax breaks yet claims to be revenue neutral because he’ll eliminate deductions he won’t name. This is how he justifies using his business career as the argument for his election, yet will not allow Bain Capital to release any documents or evidence to help us understand that career.
Soon Romney will leave on a foreign policy tour through Europe and Israel, to suggest that he knows something about the world, other than how to invest offshore. Before he leaves, I have some suggestions where Mitt may want to visit in order to track down the information he needs to put together his tax returns.
First, there are the places we know he’s stored his money:
– The Cayman Islands, where Bain Capital has more than $30 million in offshore accounts
– Bermuda, where Mitt had an offshore corporation that he signed over to his wife on the day before he became governor of Massachusetts
Then he can visit some of the places where Bain Capital helped create jobs by investing in companies like Flextronics International and Jabil Circuit Inc.:
By visiting these spots Mitt can check on his investments — while giving us an actual picture of what he did at Bain that made him so uniquely qualified to be president. He’ll also remind everyone that the world’s richest investors are starving their governments of trillions in revenue by seeking out tax avoidance schemes all over the planet. According to a new study, wealthy investors have offshored $21 trillion into tax havens like the Caymans — a sum larger than the entire American economy.
Mitt Romney thinks he’s found a way out of this tax return debate by inventing a claim that the President doesn’t respect small business owners’ success. This is another bald-faced lie in a series of unrepentant lies. It also helps explain why businessmen like Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush do so poorly at growing the economy. They have no idea what makes the economy work.
What makes a business succeed is customers who can afford to buy its products. What makes a business succeed is infrastructure that’s safe and reliable. What makes business succeed is basic fairness—where those who benefit the most, those who earn in one day more than an average American earns in a year, are asked to contribute a fair amount of their enormous success to maintaining infrastructure, education, national security, scientific research and all the other essential functions of government.
This is why Mitt Romney’s tax returns are crucial to this election.
What makes a country like Greece fail is an active strategy by the richest citizens to avoid paying their fair share. What has made America succeed are people like Mitt Romney’s dad and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, those who feel an obligation for the tremendous benefits they’ve enjoyed.
Sorry, Mrs. Romney, but “We the People” need to know if your husband is someone who takes his responsibilities to his fellow Americans seriously. Us people are funny that way.