Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mitt Romney Is My Personal Hero, If Harry Reid Is to Be Believed

Some stories are so obviously bullshit that they can't even be called lying. That's how I scored U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's claim to inside information that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for 10 years.

The Washington Post fact checker gave him four Pinocchios. And we know that Harry doesn't think Mitt broke any tax laws, or he would be putting in for the IRS reward money.

Let's say its true that Mitt has legally arranged his affairs in such a way as to pay no U.S. income taxes for a whole decade. That would make him my personal hero.

It must be said that the claim is not entirely implausible. Mitt took $1 a year as his paycheck during his 4 years as governor of Massachusetts. Mitt gives a lot to charity (although it must be observed that you can't deduct more than 50% of your adjusted gross income in any one year). Mitt's wife Ann suffers from multiple sclerosis so they may have some big deductible medical expenses for her treatment. The last dozen years have seen more than their share of financial up and downs, so someone like Mitt could very easily have had some years where he lost money (Mitt did make money and pay taxes in a couple of those bad years based tax returns Mitt did release).

Journalist are beginning to ask, "If Harry Reid is lying about Mitt Romney's taxes, could he be lying about his own taxes?" So far Harry refuses to release any of his tax returns, even though he has amassed a personal fortune of $10 million over his long career as U.S. Senator for Nevada. Las Vegas, the city that runs on comps, may very well have thrown Reid a few kickbacks. You think?

In the department of situational ethics, someone dug up a statement Harry made back in 1974: "Any man or woman who will not be completely candid about his or her finances does not deserve to be in public office." Ask about that statement yesterday, Harry responded: "In 1974, I wasn't in Congress." In other words, back then he had nothing to hide.

Meanwhile Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is walking back her own latest act of hypocrisy. Turns out he had already showed the press 6 years of returns, whereas she has only shown 4 years. Suddenly, 6 years are enough for Elizabeth. Elizabeth had been calling on Senator Scott Brown to release his tax returns going back twenty years.
"I think Scott Brown should release his tax returns for all the years he’s been in public service."
However, Elizabeth seems to have a problem applying that standard to herself. She released tax her returns for the time she was the Bailout Czar and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Czar. But she has not released her returns from her work 1995 to 1997 work as adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, or her 2006 appointment to the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion. Is it possible Elizabeth was privately getting consulting fees from Wall Street firms while at the same time holding herself out to the public as a consumer advocate?

Another hypocrite with potential tax return problems is current U.S. House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She also has never released her tax returns, even though she held the top legislative job in Washington and was third in line to be President (and would be again if the Democrats retake the House).

In July, Nancy was calling on Mitt to release more of his tax returns but when asked to release her own tax returns dismissively replied, "Let's not be silly." Now, asked about Harry's charges on Sunday, she says "It is a fact." Then I guess it must be true. For getting a decade in taxes to zero, Mitt Romney is my hero.

Now, I will say this, it's great that the Obama campaign's focus on Romney's tax returns is leading to greater scrutiny and transparency across the political spectrum. Certainly, I've been long saying the Democrats need new leadership in Congress. If Harry and Nancy won't release their tax returns, I say we fire them.

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