Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Romney’s Taxes: He’s got until Sept. 1

No, not offering Mitt an ultimatum.  This is just an observation.  If, and only if, there’s really nothing catastrophically damaging in those returns, then he has roughly 3 weeks to maneuver their release so that they appear to be on his terms and not another instance of him being pushed around.  After that, if he releases them and they contain nothing particularly bad, he’ll just look stupid.  He spent valuable months in a critical stretch of his campaign playing defense needlessly.  How will he justify having done so?  It makes him look strategically incompetent.  How does this bode for his legislative of diplomatic strategies?

It seems to me that those returns do not contain anything nearly as bad as paying no taxes for ten years.  This is someone who has been effectively running for president most of his adult life.  He’s certainly shown that he lacks real political intelligence.  But to simply NOT pay any taxes for ten years when you’ve got your eye on the White House?  Someone that imbecilic could never have become the establishment GOP candidate.  I find it hilarious when I peruse comments sections and see how frequently people on both sides refer to the other side as some manifestation of idiocy.  There are some brilliant folks on the right, both with regard to policy and politics.  Same is true on the left.  Mitt’s politically flat-footed for sure, but he’s not deranged.

What’s left is that the returns will simply make him look bad to certain voter groups.  It was a liability his campaign must have known about from the start.  It was up to them to create a context fcor their release, either under cover of some other distraction or in a context where he might use them to make another point.  He might, for instance, have used his own tax returns as representative of rational and responsible behavior under the current code.  No one TRIES to pay more taxes than they have to.  I pocketed my Bush refund as well (actually used it to pay down some debt).  He might have used his own returns to suggest particular reforms that would effectively incentivize the job creating investment he obviously believes in.  How could the code push people of his bracket to actually create jobs?  He might have used it to illustrate how his own 50-point plan (or whatever it is) would address this situation.  It could have been a tremendous teaching tool and would have actually given some credibility to his claims to know how to fix the economy.  It would have demonstrated how his experience in the private sector might serve his ability to shepherd the economy.  But that ship has sailed.

He’s left with two options: release them now and try to spin it as proof that the left and the media have been making a lot of noise out of very little and practicing class warfare instead of pursuing solutions, or stonewall all the way.  Both seem pretty bad at this point.  Of course, perhaps I’m wrong and he’s either guilty of a felony or simply looks like a scoundrel who is particularly adept at gaming the system.  He might set himself up as a proud resistor of the insatiable federal government, but he’s already got the folks who think that way.

As it stands, the GOP is nominating someone who is allergic to basic transparency.  He shouldn’t have to release his returns because his opponents will interpret them harshly?  He shouldn’t have to answer reporters’ questions because his opponents will interpret his answers harshly?  He won’t bend to the bullies?  Well, the world is full of bullies and we need a president who can respond to them, confront them, disarm them.  Pouting in the corner because people are mean does not create a presidential image.  Asking for votes without supplying voters with the information they want comes off as a particularly spoiled form of entitlement.


  1. has a long history of refusing to be forthcoming with information:

    * Running against Ted Kennedy for Senate, he demanded Ted release his tax returns, but refused to release his own;

    * Running for governor, he demanded his opponent, who had already released her own returns, release her husband’s, but refused to release his own;

    * Upon leaving the governor’s office, his people bought up all the hard drives his administration had used and removed them, so no one could look at what was in them;

    * Promised transparency in running the Utah Olympics, but very little information was ever released about his administration of the Games.

    Given Ann’s statement that “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life”, I’d say the Romneys truly believe that they are above responding to the petty nosiness of the plebeians they wish to rule.

  2. It makes him look strategically incompetent.

    …but sometimes they are not.

    I don’t know if it is so much Mitt as the entire GOP machine that is strategically incompetent at the moment. Not sure there is much they can do about it, either.

    Let’s see, they have to placate the dominant Tea Party minority while capturing moderate Republican and independent voters while the Congress elected by the latest GOP push is going down in history as the least effective by far (127 bills passed to date vs. the 1947-48 “Do Nothing Congress” which passed 900).

    And so on.

    I think it is possible for the Democrats to lose the election in November, but not for the GOP to win it. The ability of the left to be inclusive is the key, which as my recent ranting asserts is the traditional weak spot of liberals (particularly when they are winning).

  3. Strummerson

    of tax returns in 2008 when he was being vetted for VP.  23 years?  Why did he need to provide so many?  Dis some of the more recent ones look bad?  And did this have something to do with McCain passing him over for Palin?  And most suspiciously, if McCain, with his unimpeachable credibility (which I don’t quite get at this point) had access to that info, why isn’t he vouching for Mitt publicly?  

    All I know is if you hand over 23 years to a prospective employer who rejects you and then refuse to hand over more than 2 years to the voters, it looks even worse.  The stink is bad.  Either the source of that stink is worse, or Mitt is the biggest blunderer ever to pace the national stage.

  4. fogiv

    If he finally releases them (doesn’t much matter when) he’ll look bad, and not because there’s anything illegal or below board in them. The best case scenario for him, if he releases them, is that the public will see what a convoluted mess taxes are the uber-weatly (something most of us can’t even begin to understand or relate to), how incredibly rich he is, and how much advantage he yields from that wealth — all of which underscore the already robust narrative that Romney is a ridiculously rich prick who’s looking out for number one.

    I mean, my savings account has like 14 bucks in it.  what the fuck is a blind trust anyway? cayman and swiss accounts? how the hell does that work? I can’t even figure out standard deductions without the help of a H&R Block kid with an 8-hr training under her belt.

    now, it’s pretty obvious they could try to move past the whole thing by releasing a few more years worth of returns, but then he looks like a weenie for giving into the demands of ‘dirty liars’.  but here’s the rub, if he doesn’t he looks like a coward for not standing up and proving those ‘dirty liars’ wrong.

    what does the GOP base dislike more than Romney?  Weenie Romney.

    He’s screwed, and they know it. Their tactics over the last few weeks carry the sweet stench of desperation.  

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