July 19 2012
The Wrong Tax Issue
Among conservatives there’s been a release-the-tax-returns boomlet: Bill Kristol and the editors of National Review have urged Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns.
Writing recently in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts, a publisher of tax information, also makes a powerful argument for releasing the returns:
Critics point out that Mr. Romney's father, George, set the standard for candidate tax disclosure when, during the Republican presidential primary campaign in 1967, he released 12 years of tax returns. President Obama, for his part, has released all of his returns since 2000.
Candidates are not required to release their returns; the law protects their tax privacy, just like it does for every other American. Candidates must, however, file a financial-disclosure form with the Federal Election Commission outlining assets and liabilities. Unlike tax returns, which shine a spotlight on income, FEC filings highlight net worth—potentially even more embarrassing for wealthy candidates like Mr. Romney. …
[L]egally, candidates are entitled to their tax privacy. But politically, privacy is a relic of the past.
We can bemoan that fact and prattle on endlessly about all the great politicians of yore who would never pass the purity test of modern politics. But the fact remains: 21st-century politics make no room for candidate privacy.
And there may be a silver lining to disclosure for Mr. Romney. If he can survive the firestorm of ginned-up outrage that's sure to follow a major release, then a newly inaugurated President Romney might be well positioned to lead the charge for real tax reform. If only an ardent anticommunist like Nixon could go to China, then maybe only a pro-business Republican with lots of experience in legally avoiding taxes can get American taxpayers out of the Caymans.
Meanwhile, the liberal Washington Post, not surprisingly, waxes sanctimonious on the issue:
For most Americans, income tax returns are a private matter, and federal law protects that privacy. For those who would be president, a different standard applies. The modern presidency demands so much of one individual — decisions of immense complexity, consequence and difficulty — that the candidates’ characters must be thoroughly examined.
Gag me with a spoon.
Speaking only for myself and not my colleagues at IWF, I am distressed that the debate has turned on Romney's tax returns for years gone by and not the taxes we may be paying next year. I agree with Speaker of the House John Boehner who has referred to this as a "sideshow." This is politics, folks, not need to know.
When you get right down to it, I doubt that even Stephanie Cutter, the Obama campaign operative who outrageously implied that Mr. Romney is a felon seriously believes that: (A.) Mr. Romney is a felon, or (B) that he has done anything illegal with regard to taxes. But the Obama camp knows that most people don't have the expertise to read tax returns (thanks to an overly complicated system that needs to be reformed) and that, even if Romney is clean as a whistle, which I suspect to be the case, they can distort whatever is in the returns to use against Romney.
How political is this? Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to pass legislation forcing presidential candidates to release ten years of tax returns. Erika Johnsen of Hot Air has the right reaction:
It’s actually come to this. Wow… just wow.
This is such a phony issue. But, either way, Romney faces an onslaught of vicious and most likely false charges, whether for releasing the tax returns or for not releasing them. An argument can be made for toughing it out and sitting on the returns.
Oh, and about that law the Democrats want to pass…whaddaya bet it would be repealed the minute a rich Democrat (yes, I know this is redundant) is running?
Now, can we please talk about MY tax burden?
My fellow citizens, what we should care about is what is going to happen to the country next year if the Bush tax cuts expire.