Political Animal


December 22, 2011 12:35 PM Romney to keep his tax returns hidden

By Steve Benen

Mitt Romney recently reflected on lessons he learned from his father. “He made sure my brother and I mowed the lawn, shoveled the driveway,” Romney said. “When he ran for president and his tax returns were published, it was clear he could’ve hired a landscaper. But he decided we would work with our hands.”

It struck me as an anecdote. For one thing, Mitt Romney, we now know, hired undocumented workers to do landscaping work. For another, Romney makes it sound like the release of tax returns are a routine part of running for president.

It turns out, the former one-term Massachusetts governor doesn’t actually believe that.

Romney said he didn’t intend to release his tax returns. “I doubt it. I will provide all the financial info, which is an extraordinary pile of documents which show investments and so forth.”

Pressed further on disclosure, Romney added, “I don’t intend to” release the returns.

In 2008, Barack Obama released his tax returns, and so did Joe Biden, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. Four years earlier, each of the seven major Democratic candidates released their returns, too. In 2000, Al Gore and George W. Bush both released their tax returns. In 1996, Bob Dole released his returns, and in 1992, Bill Clinton released his previous 12 years of returns.

You probably see where I’m going with this, but just to be clear, every major-party presidential nominee in the post-Watergate era has taken this step, not because they’re legally required to do so, but because they thought it was the right thing to do. (Reagan resisted for a while in 1980, but ultimately gave in.)

And then there’s Mitt Romney — he of the missing hard drives — who recently condemned the Obama White House for failing to maintain the right standards of “openness and transparency.”

Why is it, exactly, that Romney is so eager to hide the same information other modern candidates have shared? Only the candidate knows for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Romney, worth about a quarter-billion dollars, makes just about all of his income from “dividends, interest, and capital gains,” which means he pays taxes at a much lower rate.

In a campaign context, that means the multi-millionaire Republican pays a lower tax rate than working families and — this is important — intends to pursue tax policies as president that would keep this advantage for people like him in place.

Romney could be more forthcoming on these facts, but he’s running for office for Pete’s sake.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Grumpy on December 22, 2011 12:42 PM:

    C'mon, Romney! Hide your tax returns because they would reveal some dark, twisted secret about your private life, not because they would remind people that you're rich (which we already know) and that your tax policy is for crap (which more people ought to know).

  • JSR on December 22, 2011 12:43 PM:

    One other angle here, as a Mormon, he's required to pay 10% of his income every year to remain in good standing and hold a temple recommend. This would open him up to scrutiny with the church as well.

  • c u n d gulag on December 22, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Because nothing says you'll have an open government more than not disclosing your taxes!

    Let's face it, no matter what new hard-drive they put in this MITT 3.0 cyborg, he's still a thin-skinned yutz.

    No, wait, CRAPTCHA, you're not doing it right!

    I can still almost understand what's there - after the 3rd or 4th time.
    What about using Sanskrit the next time, you POS?
    Maybe then, no one will be able to comment, which seems to be the goal again here at WaMo.

  • K in VA on December 22, 2011 12:50 PM:

    C'mon, Mittens! How can we think you're strong enough to stand up to evildoers around the world when you're a fraidy cat about what your fellow Americans would say about your low tax rate?

  • stormskies on December 22, 2011 12:51 PM:

    The actual truth about anything is in fact the enemy of not only buffoon Romney, but all Repiglicans ... lies, deceptions, and invented narratives to believe in is at the very heart of not his but all Repiglicans universe ..

  • exlibra on December 22, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Well... He's not the nominee, yet. If/when he is and still refuses to disclose his tax returns, it'll be a different story. You mention that Obama and Biden both disclosed theirs, in '08. Did Clinton? Edwards? Richardson? Dodd?

  • Michael on December 22, 2011 1:05 PM:

    True fact stormskies, these upstanding christian liars are the perfect example for our young ones.
    What a dark, dank world the other side occupies...
    Only big problem is , is the bamboozling of the evangelicals as well (and a good number of them, know all about bamboozling...)

  • Josef K on December 22, 2011 1:33 PM:

    Mitt Romney recently reflected on lessons he learned from his father.

    In that case, can we blame his parents for teaching him to be as miserable and shallow a human being as possible?

  • dalloway on December 22, 2011 1:41 PM:

    Way to go, Mitt. Give Democrats a big fat issue to pound you with for the entire election. From "What's he got to hide?" to "Just how rich is Mitt Romney? He won't say," the ads write themselves. This guy is the most inept pol who ever lived.

  • chi res on December 22, 2011 1:51 PM:

    Did Clinton? Edwards? Richardson? Dodd?

    From what I can tell, Clinton and Dodd did in 2008; Edwards did not in 2008, but had in 2004; no immediate info on Richardson. (sorry about the Politi[lie] citation; best overall I could find)



  • ManOutOfTime on December 22, 2011 2:00 PM:

    I'm so old, I can remember a time when one of the two major political parties nominated a Massachusetts governor as the "most electable" option. It did not end well. A person who seemed like a sober, reasonable person turned out to be (or let himself be turned into) a laughingstock and was tarred - despite his centrist bona fides - with a caricature of culture war extremism.

    On January 20, 2013, Barack Obama is going to party like it's 1989.

  • zandru on December 22, 2011 2:21 PM:

    It was "unlikely" that young Willard ever did yardwork for his father, because after he became an adult, he hired people to do it for him? Is this a joke?

    Once you do any significant amount of yardwork, the option of hiring someone to do it for you is all but irresistible. And grown-up Willard had the resources, so he did.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 22, 2011 4:02 PM:

    Would someone care to explain just why, exactly, this loathesome man even cares to run for the Presidency of the U.S. of A? Either his self-awareness is magnificently non-existent or he has Joaquin Phoenix-style of self-parody. The man has no redeeming qualities. Any time the man is given the choice to do a good thing, he will opt out. If the GOP doesn't scuttle his nomination bid, he's gonna get creamed next November.

  • Doug on December 22, 2011 10:58 PM:

    Sgt. Gym Bunny, to answer your question would probably require YEARS of analysis by Freud, Jung and doazens of others qualified to delve into Mittens' dark, dank sub-concious. I'M certainly not going there!
    My personal opinion is that he's got the same "daddy" problem GWB has. We all know how well THAT turned out!

  • Dee smith on December 22, 2011 11:41 PM:

    I wonder too why Romney wants to be President so badly. Beware of those who only want Power. Romney fits the profile. He caters to rich eletists. He is not to be trusted. However, this is not to say I have great trust for Democrats either. We are always voting for two evils.

  • John Corzine on December 23, 2011 10:37 AM:

    That's what Republicans do!

  • hobbs57 on December 30, 2011 11:39 PM:

    That's funny, Obama didn't release his until March 25th of 08? hmmm and when was that election, 08 " ?? Ahh what year is it in now and what election cycle are we in ?

    By the way, Romney has over 28 years of unpaid service to this country. I assure you he put out more than 1% to charity like the chosen one.

    Just sayin....