Harry Reid Doubles Down On His Unsubstantiated Romney Tax Claims

Yesterday I noted that Harry Reid had made a ridiculously unscourced claim that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes in a decade, yesterday evening he doubled down on those claims: 

On Wednesday, Reid stuck to his story, and broadened it.

“I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. “I have had a number of people tell me that.”

Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.”

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” Reid said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

Ah yes, I see how it works. Make something up, refuse to provide proof, and challenge Mitt Romney to disprove the allegation. Tell me Senator, when did you stop beating your wife?

Jon Stewart nailed Reid last night:

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I’m sure you do equate it with wife-beating, but Reid knows he’s walking a different line.

    If he had said “someone told me the tax returns shows deductions for all of Mitt’s illegitimate children” he would be doing something truly offensive, and throwing away his career.

    When he claims that Mitt, correctly and legally, used our tax system to pay no tax, he is not actually accusing him of impropriety.

    That’s the bottom line. Wife-beating is a crime, and so it is a false comparison.

  2. I hope you understand that I don’t think Reid’s behavior was exemplary. I’m sure he knows it was not. He’s saying “kick me,” because he thinks the dings to him are worth the dings to Romney.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Perhaps the most bitter irony about all this is that if the spaced out Nevada GOP hadn’t nominated Sharron Angle then Reid at present would be at some D.C. lobbying firm and already long forgotten from the Senate. Elections do have ripple effects.

    In any case, Democrats don’t take a crap without an attack plan, Reid is not entirely as dumb as he looks, and Reid presumably would have access to the internal (not for public consumption) polling data. Could be that things are looking very bleak for the president and that panic and desperation are starting to set in. Time will tell.

    Regarding the tax returns I’d be willing to bet money we won’t see them. Something in there would be a calamity for Romney; there’s no other plausible conclusion.

  4. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “In any case, Democrats don’t take a crap without an attack plan”

    That would be a surprise to legions of Democrats who regard their own politicians as bumbling fools. This projection of the opponent as being this omni-capable superman is an interesting psychological quirk.

    Mike

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Well, Romney can put an end to it by releasing his returns.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    The only way I can interpret this is that Reid is trying to light a brush fire and get all the talking-heads squawking about Romney’s taxes. But why should he assume that they should do this on such a thinly-sourced story?

    The only way this will gain legs is if something else comes out that supports Reid’s claim. Otherwise I predict squawking for another 24 hours, then the meme will be dropped. The republican palace court only has to continue to remain tight-lipped and this will blow over.

    I thought Reid was smart?! Seems pretty dumb to me.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Here…you can figure out your tax savings under Obama…or your increase under Romney (assuming you aren’t in the top 5%)
    http://www.barackobama.com/tax-calculator
    For the life of me I can’t figure out why Romney not paying taxes would be an issue.

  8. As regards Tsar Nicholas’ comment:

    Regarding the tax returns I’d be willing to bet money we won’t see them. Something in there would be a calamity for Romney; there’s no other plausible conclusion.

    That he would close like this is of course the reason Reid took the risk.

  9. @grumpy realist:

    Congressmen say crazy stuff all the time. On that scale this is pretty minor. Remember the other OTB thread:

    “Republican Congressman Compares Contraceptive Coverage Mandate To 9/11, Pearl Harbor”

  10. rudderpedals says:

    It’s fair to view the refusals to disclose as a pregnant admission of horrible things. Perhaps Swiss tax amnesty or tax assessments and penalties from all of the many audits. No other candidate for pres in memory has concealed so much from so many and for so long.

    Borrowing a phrase, this is a big f*ng deal.

  11. James in LA says:

    Mitt Romney is not yet the nominee. It is possible someone who saw them in 2008 will leak them around the convention. Mitt’s stumbles are approaching Palinesque proportions.

  12. EddieInCA says:

    Someone…

    Someone…

    WILL leak “Romney’s Tax Returns” sometime before November… Will they be the real tax returns? Who knows?

    What happens when bogus tax returns are “leaked” which show Mitt paid less than 10% to the Mormon Church? Or that he – legally – paid an effective zero percent rate while making hundreds of millions of dollars? Or that his off-shore accounts were set up to – legally – avoid paying US Taxes?

    The Romney campaign has made a calculated decision that what is in the tax returns is more damaging than the barrage of negative stories, innuendo, and suspicion that not releasing the returns will create.

    Make me wonder exactly what’s in them….

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

    Meep! Meep!

  13. J-Dub says:

    Mitt Romney has already admitted to the MA Board of Elections that he committed perjury on his 2000-2002 tax returns by signing returns with false information, claiming UT as his primary residence instead of MA. Then he lied to journalists from the Boston Globe when asked if he was eligible to run for governor due to the fact that his returns claimed he was not a resident of MA.

    Not only is he dishonest but I’m starting to think that he might not be too bright either.

  14. jpe says:

    Mitt Romney has already admitted to the MA Board of Elections that he committed perjury

    Um…..what? He amended his tax returns. That’s not perjury.

  15. mantis says:

    Tell me Senator, when did you stop beating your wife?

    The point of that particular expression is that the act of denying it hurts the person answering the question because the accusation is so offensive and there is no good way of proving it is untrue. If a candidate has to say the words “I don’t beat my wife” or “I never beat my wife” it plants in the minds of the voters an image of him beating his wife. It doesn’t matter whether he ever has or not, just that he be forced to deny it.

    Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t need to deny anything. He can just offer proof. See, everyone? Harry Reid is lying, which you can plainly see in my tax returns. How do you offer proof you don’t beat your wife? You can’t. You can offer proof you paid your taxes. It’s easy.

  16. stonetools says:

    This is a way to put pressure on Romney to release his tax returns. There’s not much daylight between this and the many calls by all kinds of Republican spokespersons for Obama to release his long form birth certificate (which Obama later did, btw, so we know this tactic works).
    Now is this dirty politics? Sure, but we should remember which side pioneered and perfected this tactic. The Republicans are being beaten with a rod that they made.

  17. Craigo says:

    If only there were simple, surefire way for Romney to end this controversy once and for all.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The only way I can interpret this is that Reid is trying to light a brush fire and get all the talking-heads squawking about Romney’s taxes. But why should he assume that they should do this on such a thinly-sourced story?

    It’s my take on this too.

    Ultimately, by doing it this way, Reid appears to be the same type of low-life hack that Republicans have in over abundance these days.

  19. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “The only way I can interpret this is that Reid is trying to light a brush fire and get all the talking-heads squawking about Romney’s taxes. But why should he assume that they should do this on such a thinly-sourced story?”

    It’s not about sourcing. Romney has made a decision that he will be better off politically if he violates decades of political norms and doesn’t release his tax returns, assuming that he’ll be able to get away with saying “You can trust me, there’s nothing bad in them.”

    Reid’s throwing that back in his face: “If you don’t release them, we can say anything we want, and some of it’s going to stick.” He’s calling Romney’s bluff — if Romney can say whatever he wants about the returns, so can the Dems.

    And the only objective truth is in the returns themselves.

    It’s smart political hardball. Why it’s got Doug’s panties so twisted is beyond me. Except that it’s undercutting his guy.

  20. de stijl says:

    Either Reid made up the story out of whole cloth which basically makes him the same as everyone who screamed “Death Panels” back in 2009 (i.e., a liar), or a Bain Capital investor told him the the story.

  21. jukeboxgrad says:

    There’s not much daylight between this and the many calls by all kinds of Republican spokespersons for Obama to release his long form birth certificate

    I understand your point, but actually there is a lot of daylight. The difference has to do with precedent. The precedent is that candidates do release tax returns, and do not release birth certificates. Obama was expected to do something unprecedented, while Romney is being expected to do something normal.

    The GOP has essentially taken this position: if you’re Obama, you need to do more than what is normally done, but if you’re Romney, it’s OK if you do less than what is normally done.

  22. jukeboxgrad says:

    I find it interesting to notice that NR, Hotair and probably a bunch of other people are claiming that Reid is accusing Mitt of committing a crime. No, that’s not what Reid did. It’s possible that Mitt avoided taxation legally.

    The fact that this is even possible is something quite bad that the GOP would like you to not think about. That’s why these folks are pretending such a thing is not possible.

  23. stonetools says:

    The right wing blogs which are so apoplectic about Harry Reid’s gambit are pretty much the same ones who were either silent about the birther claims about Obama’s foreign birth or who called on Obama to release his long form birth certificate. Now they are screaming like scalded cats when a favorite Republican tactic is turned against them. Well boo frickin’ ho.

    How many prominent republicans condemned the birthers prior to Obama’s release of the LF birth certificate? For that matter, I would be interested to know what was Doug’s view on the birther controversy. Did he condemn the media for even reporting on it? Did he call on prominent Republicans to denounce the birthers? I don’t know, I’m asking.

  24. I’ve been denouncing the birther nonsense, both here and elsewhere, since it all started back in 2008

  25. Dave E. says:

    Sixty years ago the Democratic Party recoiled from “guilty until proven innocent.” Today they are whole-heartedly embracing it as a legitimate campaign tactic.

    Progress!

  26. J-Dub says:

    @jpe: Here’s the quote

    MA Ballot Commission lawyer “…if I were to hand you an affidavit, Mr. Romney, and at the end of it, typed in your signature, and above your signature, I put “signed under the pains and penalties of perjury,” and I said, “Mr. Romney, sign this document,” you’d read it first; wouldn’t you?

    Romney “If you were to put it in front of me, yes.”

    Lawyer “So, you’d sign documents under the pains and penalties of perjury without necessarily reading them; is that your testimony?”

    Romney “I have not read the entire Massachusetts tax form, nor the Federal tax form, nor the Utah tax form, and all of them have me sign under pains and penalty to the best of my knowledge and belief, and I do not read the entire form”

    [-June 18, 2002 testimony before MA State Ballot Commission]

    He signed his tax form that stated he was a resident of Utah. Not reading the form that was prepared for him is not an excuse for signing an incorrect return, hence perjury via stupidity.

  27. stonetools says:

    Ah, that’s not what I asked?

    Anyway, you have to be realistic about these things.
    The Democrats have been fighting elections by the Marguis of Queensberry rules, while since1988 the Republicans have been fighting ( and still are fighting) with brass knuckles, switchblades, chains, anything it takes to win. In 2010 the Democrats got their brains beat out while the Republicans peddled lies such as saying that the passage of ACA meant that the Democrats were going to take away Medicare.

    During that time, the media-like you-tut-tutted the Republicans for going too far- but the Democrats kept losing. This election cycle, the Democrats have decided to bring a few brass knuckles of their own and now folks like you get the vapors and clutch their pearls? Puh-leeze.
    I find Reid’s repeating of a rumor a lot less despicable than the Republican Party’s embrace of the bigoted birther campaign with its claim that a foreign born black man lied his way into the Presidency . But hey,it energized the Republican to base turn out in 2010 ..The Democrats have finally decided that they would rather win than have the media pat them on the head for being good losers. Its about time.
    Also too, Romney can stop the rumormongering the way Obama stopped the birther campaign-he can release his tax returns .In that way, a good thing-disclosure of the presidential candidate’s tax returns-can come out of this questionable tactic.Note that if Romney wasn’t stonewalling on this (How come that’s not “despicable?”) , Harry Reid wouldn’t be doing this.

  28. Commonist says:

    I don’t like it and I think Reid should try a different approach.

    But do I think Romney could be sociopathic enough to want to raise taxes on the poor while paying very little himself?

    Hell yes.

    Where are the worth certificates?

  29. Dave E. says:

    @stonetools: So to riff off a famous Brit, we’ve established what you are and now you want to haggle over your excuse.

  30. The Rachel Maddow Story last night (8/1/2012) is ALL TRUE!!!!!!! Go to MSNBC and watch the clip. I was a Sr. appraiser working in the Summit County Assessor’s office when all of this went down with Mitt-Boy. The fit he threw when were not going to give him the Primary Residential Exemption. Then the even BIGGER fit he threw when the County Assessor would not play ball and cover it up for him so he could run for Gov. of MA. HE is a bully and NEVER takes responsibility for his actions. He blamed us in the assessor’s office, and we would NEVER automatically give someone the primary residential exemption in Summit County. We have more secondary/vacation homes than people living here full time. This I believe is a glimpse into the BIGGER picture of his business practices and tax filings, accounts in the Caymans, Switzerland, etc. OBAMA 2012!!!!!

  31. Dazedandconfused says:

    I would guess every so often somebody or another is going to stand up and toss a log on this fire. When it needs it.

    Probably take turns.