Ten Miles Square


July 06, 2012 9:45 AM Offshore Mitt

By Mark Kleiman

With the AP following Vanity Fair in going after Mitt Romney’s tangled web of offshore investment vehicles, and Ted Strickland picking up on it on behalf of the Obama campaign, it looks as if Romney’s taste in investment vehicles will join Bain’s record of job destruction in this year’s campaign arsenal.

Josh Marshall argues that the Bain attack matters more to the voters than it does to the pundits. And I bet the same is true of the investment stuff. The average Ohio voter not only doesn’t have a Swiss bank account or a Cayman Islands investment vehicle, he doesn’t know anyone who does.

And of course this gets back to the question about Romney’s taxes, and why he decided to release only one year’s worth of returns. Without actually doing anything you can go to jail for, it’s more than likely that Romney pushed the envelope, hard, when it came to finding ways to pay less than his share of income taxes. (How else do you wind up with $20 million in an IRA, given the IRA contribution limits?)

As Greg Sargent points out, right now the Romney camp hasn’t come up with a plausible counter to any of this. Romney’s response to all questions is, basically, “Trust me.” But a reasonable response, given Romney’s rather distant relationship with truth-telling, is “Trust, but verify. Let’s see the returns.” The very fact of concealment strongly suggests that there’s something to conceal: for example, we still don’t know whether Romney took advantage of the amnesty for those who illegally concealed foreign bank accounts from the IRS. (Of course lots of us made the same inference about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs, and got it massively wrong. But there’s no evidence that Romney is as crazy as Saddam Hussein.)

All of this plays up both Romney’s remoteness from the problems of struggling Americans and his basic slipperiness. Expect to hear more of it. And expect it to matter in November.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the University of California Los Angeles.


  • j on July 07, 2012 10:50 AM:

    Wonder where the money keeps coming from, could he have been able to profit from the LIBOR scam?
    The two bigwigs with Barclays were in the thick of it and were Mitt's buddies and fundraisers.

  • akindependent on July 08, 2012 9:40 AM:

    This is the flip side of the Romney "trust me" coin. The other side is his evasiveness on policy. What exactly would Mitt do as President? Isn't that a fundamental piece of information for voters?

  • mcc on July 09, 2012 6:43 PM:

    "The average Ohio voter not only doesn’t have a Swiss bank account or a Cayman Islands investment vehicle, he doesn’t know anyone who does"

    Nitpick: The average Ohio voter is a "she".

  • cwolf on July 09, 2012 9:10 PM:

    The average Ohio voter's bank account
    is just a quick pitstop
    for the voters paycheck
    where the money is spotted
    just long enough for the IRS to monitor
    before it goes out
    to some mortgage fraudster bank
    or some credit card scamming bank.

  • v98max on July 10, 2012 2:05 AM:

    It's not so much that people begrudge Romney being successful. It's partly about the way he measures the worth of a man in dollars, but mostly about how poorly he wants the government to treat people who are less "successful" by his own definition.

  • Mimikatz on July 17, 2012 10:52 AM:

    If you truly love America, why put so much energy into avoiding taxes?

    This just makes Mitt seem hollow and selfish on so many levels.

  • Robert on July 18, 2012 4:24 PM:

    Heard a second hand story this afternoon that there may be a few years in the period he has not disclosed when Mittens paid little or no income tax. Now that would be worth hiding!

  • jlt on July 23, 2012 11:15 AM:

    Here is a short history of the TAX haven structures!