John McCain: Reid Is Wrong About Romney’s Taxes
Senator John McCain, who’s vetting team reportedly saw some 23 years of Mitt Romney’s tax returns, says Harry Reid is wrong in his assertion that Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years:
Arizona Sen. John McCain said today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is wrong about his assertion that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years, saying his team that vetted the presumptive GOP nominee in 2008 found no such thing. And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Reid “is making this up” and said Reid abused the Senate floor to “interject himself into the presidential campaign” and said it is “beneath his job of majority leader.”
“Nothing in his tax returns showed that he did not pay taxes,” McCain said during an interview taped for “Face to Face” that will air Tuesday evening.
Here’s the video:
So, there’s that. The ball is in your court Harry, name your source and provide your proof, or be gone.
Will the same people who said that the word of the officials in Hawaii was enough claim that John McCain (whose team SAW the returns) word is not enough.
Last week people compared the Harry Reid team to the so called “birthers” now we will see how true this comparison is.
I doubt very much that McCain saw Romney’s tax records. The vetting team did, but candidates don’t usually get into that level of detail. I also can’t believe that there isn’t something in those returns that the Romney campaign thinks is even worse than what Reid claims. Too easy to prove him wrong otherwise.
As for birth records, they’re public. If the returns were released and Reid called them forgeries, then you would have your analogy. Not there yet.
Meh. McCain’s not exactly the most financially savvy guy. Dude probably wouldn’t know the difference between a form K-1 and a K-1 kickboxing tournament. Besides, as mentioned above, it’s quite doubtful that McCain sat there personally reviewing the returns. Also, Reid doesn’t have to respond or not respond. Reid is a Democrat.
Regarding the returns that he filed before he became Mass. Gov., and presumably before he fancied himself as a prospective GOP presidential contender, I still say that what Romney is trying to hide is some obvious left-wing bent, e.g., a contribution to Planned Parenthood or to some other leftist 501 non-profit.
Regarding the ’03 – ’09 returns, I don’t think Romney literally paid no taxes. That doesn’t pass the smell test. What I suspect happened is that Romney profited from investment vehicles or direct investments that first made money from the housing and mortgage market manias and then on the back side made money from their respective collapses.
No matter what the details, however, one thing is pretty f’n obvious: Whatever it is that Romney needs to suppress it’s so patently a political train wreck that he simply can’t let the info come to light, come hell or high water.
Actually, Reid does have to respond. He threw out a claim, but offered no proof. Until he shows proof, or at least reveals his sources, his claim merits no credibility…except to the birther, truther, tax returner crowd.
No one disputes whether Romney paid taxes or not. The question is whether Romney paid his share on his adjusted gross income. AGAIN, with all the tax havens and loop holes afforded to the wealthy – it is not unreasonable to believe he did not. What McCain is providing is very little to no information on the matter. Of course, (and it has become so obvious that it is now cliche) Romney can put all this to an end if….
Romney has to suffer for not showing the returns.
The media is not doing its job. People like Mataconis don’t even actually have a proper job, and they can’t do it properly either.
Reid making sure there is a cost to Romney’s refusal to show the worth certificates is not only fair game, it is a service to the nation.
If Romney showed the returns or if he was hounded for not releasing them, then Reid would not have a righteous cause. Now he does, so haters can go [take their collective mother out for a nice lunch].
Anybody else notice that they keep saying “taxes” (something that everybody pays) but never attach the qualifier “income” to it?
That said, it really would be too cute by half if they were doing it on purpose. While I find it highly unlikely that Romney paid ZERO income taxes (like maybe 1% possibility), I do wonder just exactly what he is hiding. I think it is far more toxic than Tsar’s speculation (i can think of a dozen different possibilities).
I do find it revealing that McCain got 23 years and we only get 1 and 1/2. I had no idea that the Vice Presidency was so much more important than the Presidency.. Or that we are so much less important than McCain.
Harry really is on your last nerve, isn’t he Doug? And yeah, it is a low blow (even if someone actually did tell Harry that)…. But than so was “palling around with terrorists”.
And Doug, no, the ball is not in Harry’s court. Mitt is still playing “hot potato” with it, and until the gutless weasel mans-up and releases the returns, so it will remain. The ball is in your court Mitt. Release the returns or be gone.
Also, I read a nice right wing hand job the other day that said (short version) “Romney isn’t releasing his tax returns because he is a very private individual.”
Well Mitt, in case you haven’t noticed, the Presidency is a very Public office. As such, the Public has a right to know just exactly who and what you are. And we are learning whether you like it or not.
No one except for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“So the word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”
From the article:
Transcript from the video:
McCain apparently has no idea what his vetting team saw when they reviewed Romney’s tax returns. He never makes a single definitive statement about their contents — he instead talks about what he thinks might be in them and what he has confidence in, not simply what’s in them.
If Reid is lying (and I suspect he is at the least exaggerating), the lie is easily disproved by doing what Presidential candidates have routinely done, including Romney the Elder and releasing his returns for the past 12 years like Obama did. If Romney releases returns that are generally in line with the 13.9% tax rate he paid in 2010, Reid (and, by extension, Dems in general including Obama) will have egg all over his face, even though that rate is absurdly low. It’s a lot more than zero, and the result will be “Reid’s a liar.” [which is one reason I wish Reid hadn’t made the claim]. And yet… Romeny continues to refuse. Perhaps he’s just waiting for the opportune moment. Or perhaps he figures taking the heat for refusing is better than letting people know what he paid.
Unlike the birther nonsense, here was have a simple lack of disclosure. Obama released his BC during the primaries. The birthers refused to accept it. If Romney had released his returns and lefties were running around saying they were forged, it would be equivalent. That is not the case.
According to the IRS, in 2009, 10,000 of the wealthiest Americans paid no income tax whatsoever. Far as I’m concerned, Romney needs to prove he isn’t one of them.
Doesn’t change anything. Reid has made an unsubstantiated claim, and has to back it up. Until he does that, the ball is in his court. Its the same as if he claimed there was a teapot in space orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars (to steal an example from Betrand Russell on a different subject) – it might be true, it might be false, but there’s no reason to believe it until some evidence is provided.
Personally, I’d say Romney should release the forms, but since the IRS seems satisfied with Romney’s returns, I’m going to assume that just like Obama’s birth certificate (which satisfied the proper authorities), that they’re in order and so nothing illegal has been done. Now its possible that Romney legally paid zero income tax for ten years, though it’d be kind of surprising (I’d suspect it would be a low but non-zero number). But just claiming that he paid no taxes (or more exactly, claiming Reid knows someone who’s seen those returns) means nothing without some evidence. He can also claim that he knows someone that has seen Romney has been axe murdering babies in his spare time, but without evidence it means nothing.
There are a lot of reasons not to vote for Romney (increasing military spending while reducing taxes for instance, starting a war with Iran etc), but this doesn’t seem to be one for me.
There are also tens of thousands of murders out there. Should Romney have to prove he isn’t one of them as well? Usually its the person making the accusation that provides proof.
@george: Did anyone accuse Romney of murder?
How about a little context huh? Reid made this statement with the backdrop that Romney would not show more than two years of tax returns. It goes without mentioning that Reid was referring to income taxes. Happy? Heck, even without the context, everyone knows that Reid could not possibly be referring to taxes in general.
I wonder if the GOP counts those 10,000 wealthy tax dodgers among the 47% of “lucky duckies” who pay no taxes? Color me skeptical.
Bottomline here, Romney released his returns to McCain, but not to the American Public. McCain is is giving us the standard, ‘we’re Republicans, just trust us, everything is okay.’
George, unless the IRS audited him every year (highly unlikely to possibly illegal?) it is impossible to know that nothing illegal has been done. Especially when the returns are as complex as Romney’s would have been. Even if something _illegal_ had been done, it is always possible that it was an honest mistake. I would have to see a pattern of deception in his forms that was equal to the patterns of deception in his speeches before I would label him a crook.
Good to talk about this issue again. As Jeremy noted thoughMcCain didn’t see *any* returns and has zero personal knowledge of the contents. And even if he had no one with two or more connected brain cells relies on McCain’s broken judgment meter.
Ball sits lamely on the clay in Mitt’s court.
It’s all just talk until Mr. Romney settles the matter.
If they had, would it be incumbent on Romney to prove his innocence?
Also worth noting, McCain is the one who first broke the tax disclosure norms by releasing only two years during his presidential run, giving Romney a convenient counter example to hide behind. Also, if McCain had picked Romney to be his running mate, only two of those 23 years of returns would have matter, since they’d have, at most, matched the top-of-the-ticket’s disclosure.
@george: If the proof was irrefutable, I believe he would be waving it under everyone’s nose to ensure it received the widest dissemination.
But we’re not discussing murder, are we?
You don’t want proof. You want Obama to lose.
If “your side” spent half as much energy pressuring Romney to release his tax returns as they are spending hammering Reid as a liar, we’d have our proof.
Heh, Doug is certainly doing his double standard best here.
What we have here is McCain saying is that HIS team reviewed Romney’s tax returns and that he THINKS Romney paid taxes. This is another non-denial denial. You notice that the very friendly CNS interviewer did not follow up on this and even consented to McClain getting away with not saying anything definitive about his tax returns.
I’m still waiting, Doug, for you to explain why you accepted as true the anonymously sourced NY Post report about Christie, while insisting that Harry Reid’s anonymously sourced claim be dismissed as a lie ,
While I agree with your conclusion, I’ll point out that there is a way to prove whether there is a teapot circling the Sun: you look through a powerful enough telescope. In the same way there is a way to prove the truth of Reid’s claim: Romney can release his tax returns .
Ever heard of the adverse inference rule ? (I know Doug has).
That’s why Romney doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt here. He is the only person who can refute Reid’s claim by evidence that is solely under his control. His failure to produce such evidence gives rise to the inference that Reid’s claim is true.
According to the GOP, poor people have to prove in advance they are not committing voter fraud. Of course, they are poor, and Romney is rich, and the GOP does sort of think some people are more equal than others.
As Jeremy pointed out, McCain did a lot of hedging:
And a key exchange is here:
Yes, I transcribed that correctly. It’s a wonderful Freudian slip, and he then corrected himself. But the important point is that he pointedly refrained from answering the actual question he was asked. From this exchange we can conclude that the true answer to the question is no, he has not asked his team “if Mitt Romney did not pay taxes.” And why would he not ask? Because he doesn’t want to know.
As stonetools said, “this is another non-denial denial.” And very carefully worded as such. McCain is a pro.
It’s also worth noticing that McCain told a big fat lie:
McCain said explicitly “I have not.”
You’ve correctly described an important distinction that is glossed over by the people making the birther analogy, but it still wouldn’t really be equivalent, because the birther analogy fails for another important reason, which they also gloss over. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s normal for candidates to releases taxes but not normal to release a BC. Prior to Obama, no major candidate had ever done that. The people promoting the birther analogy are glossing over this. They’re essentially taking the position that Obama needs to do more than what’s normal, but it’s OK for Mitt to do less than what’s normal.
Notice that Mitt has released this many complete returns: zero. 2010 is incomplete. And when are we ever going to see 2011? Maybe he thinks it’s OK to release it 11/5 at 11:59 pm.
It’s also important to think about 2009. McCain is not in a position to make any claims about Mitt’s 2009 tax return. This is a return Mitt didn’t give to McCain (obviously) and he also won’t give it to us. There’s good reason to speculate that there’s some really toxic stuff in 2009.
This analogy fails, because there’s a big difference between proving a positive and proving a negative. No one is asking Mitt to prove a negative (which is what you are doing if you ask Mitt “to prove he isn’t” a murderer).
Mitt is in possession of the proof. Proving a negative (what you’re asking Reid to do) is inherently difficult or impossible. Proving the positive (what Mitt is expected to do) is easy. As stonetools has pointed out, Mitt “has relevant evidence within his control which he fails to produce.” Also, Mitt is making the opposite claim (at least by implication): that he paid his taxes in a complete, legal, fair way. Therefore he should prove it.
Also, he’s the one running for office. Reid isn’t. Also, Mitt is only being asked to do what every other modern candidate has done (notice that he still hasn’t even done as much as McCain). It’s quite legitimate and predictable that his refusal to do so “gives rise to an inference that the evidence is unfavorable to him.”
Adding to the problem is Mitt’s record of going to great lengths to avoid taxes. Look up what he did as head of the audit committee at Marriott. This adds credibility to Reid’s claim. Also adding credibility to Reid’s claim is the fact that Mitt picked Ryan, who has proposed that people like Mitt pay no federal taxes.
@george: “There are a lot of reasons not to vote for Romney (increasing military spending while reducing taxes for instance, starting a war with Iran etc), but this doesn’t seem to be one for me.”
Have you considered offshore accounts in the hands of a sitting President and the security threat this represents? Does it not concern you the very documents missing from Romney’s 2010 returns pertain directly to his offshore holdings? Do you understand that these accounts are beyond Congressional subpoena and FOIA requests? Do you not see they can be used for any purpose, including foreign campaign contributions, and there is no way for you to find out how much and who, even after it’s too late?
The offshore accounts and tax returns are huge blind spots conservatives ignore at their peril. Neither issue is going away, as they cannot be separated. They pertain directly to the economy because it demonstrates exactly what Mitt Romney thinks should be done with the fruit of America’s sweat and toil: all for me and none for thee, and please stop asking me questions about it, for Pete’s sake!
This is a misunderstanding of the entire purpose and method of the traditional candidate act of making tax returns public.
As people have stated numerous times, this is not a constitutionally required act for anyone running for president (unlike declaring, and more recently demonstrating through documentation, that you are a natural born American).
That said, beginning with Romney’s own father, this has been a traditional act undertaken by every major party candidate — again, for those who want to argue “no it isn’t”, please find a candidate whose tax releases, from multiple year, were not made public either as a byproduct of either running for president, or because of a past governmental position they occupied.
But to your point — or rather your mistake — the rational for the release isn’t to see if they are a tax cheat. It’s to better understand the following things:
1. How much wealth do they have and from what sources does that wealth come from.
2. What sort of charitable donations have they made.
The reason you look at this over multiple years, as Romney’s father reminds us, is because patterns can’t be seen if you only look at a year or two.
To that degree, @Tsar Nicholas has it right:
Should be able to buck a modern tradition and not release his taxes? Sure. But that in no way protects him from being (rightfully) attacked for doing so.
Interesting wording. McCain did really not say much of anything, did he? Romney needs to come clean.
I don’t think he did anything illegal. I think he is a very rich man who used legal means to reduce his tax burden is an way that most of the people in this country will find unacceptable in someone who is running for President. Hence the stonewall.
To assume that you must assume the returns we’re being protected from don’t use the Swiss bank acct amnesty program even though we already know he made liberal use of Cayman and other tax havens
I think it’s likely that Reid is exaggerating “very little” into none, but it’s the same as saying Romney wouldn’t have paid any taxes under the Ryan Roadmap. (Paying 0.82% on $21 million is basically not having to pay taxes.)
@Dean: He offered as much proof as McCain offered.
Romney himself can very easily discredit Reid – simply release the tax returns and if they contradict Reid, well, Reid is discredited. Very simple. It would end this whole business. Like the republicans enjoy saying, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide. What is Mitt hiding?
You’re making an important point, and there are several aspects to this. His offshore accounts, which he refuses to explain to us, are a blackmail risk. Likewise for other toxic elements that his tax returns probably contain.
There are things about his financial life that he really, really doesn’t want us to know. The firmness of his refusal is a direct indication of the negative importance of that information. People who have that information, or who can gain access to that information in the future, will be in a position to blackmail him.
Therefore we don’t really know who currently owns him, or who might end up owning him.
I think you are saying that there is some kind of constitutional requirement to show a BC. That is not the case. We discussed this once before.
Well, he said a few important things that are distinctly unhelpful to Mitt. McCain explicitly established that he has not seen Mitt’s returns. He also essentially confirmed that he has not “asked [his] team if Mitt Romney did not pay taxes.” His evasive non-answer to that question is pretty revealing.
They also like saying this: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That is, Reid not showing evidence is not a reason to dismiss what Reid said.
McCain did confirm once again that Mitt Romney can end this speculation anytime he wants, but will not. How toxic are the returns if having people assume he (legally) didn’t pay any taxes is the good option?
Mitt’s thinking might be analogous this: ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.’
Yup, I’d say that’s the case. But that’s a long way from saying that Reid’s claim has been substantiated. As it is, Reid made an unbacked claim (that he knows someone who knows that Romney paid zero taxes). Politically Romney should probably release his forms (even right wing groups are calling for that – in fact he seems to created an issue that both progressives and conservatives agree on, that he should release the forms).
But morally and legally I don’t see the need. He’s still in the position of having been accused by hearsay, and that kind of thing reminds me more of McCarthy’s run in the 50’s than anything else. As I said, I think he’d be a very bad choice for a President. But not because he hasn’t responded to hearsay. Its the same reason I like it when Obama didn’t release his birth certicate (and even sillier, the demand to release his school transcripts): doing so is giving in to the kind of throwing out unsubstantiated accusations that made the 50’s so much fun.
Legally, there is no need. But no need morally? Come on. As Republicans never tire of pointing out, millions of Americans are hurting. Badly. Losing their homes. Seeing their dreams vanish.
Romney is asking for their votes. American voters need to know what Romney is really about & there actually are good reasons to believe there is political poison in Romney’s returns regardless of what Reid says.
If Romney believes in his actions, he should release more returns. Even Republicans are saying it. If he has something to fear from his actions, he should continue on the course he has set.
Why is he breaking from tradition? GW Bush released ample returns, as did Cheney. Both of them are wealthy, both are fairly private men, and both were prepared to publically stand by their tax returns. Romney’s father started the tradition of multiple return disclosure! ‘Nuff said.
I think just about everyone knows that Romney is rich, and his policies are aimed at reducing taxes, increasing the deficit, and outsourcing work. I don’t see how his releasing his tax records is going to change that. I’d argue anything he released would fit in the category of being redundant – which is why conservatives are telling him to release the records, just to get the issue out of the way.
The only game changer I could see is if it turned out that he wasn’t really rich – that would cost him a lot of votes from conservatives.
I would argue most Republicans don’t seem to know this.
Apparently, Romney disagrees.
@george: Romney is running for the highest office imaginable, the Leader of the Free World. It is a job application. He examined multiple years of returns to choose his running mate. You’re suggesting that the American people deserve less? It’s a campaign issue on which he can be bashed and bashed hard. You don’t like Romney? Fine, but please stop whining about Romney getting bashed.
Is it responsible to speculate about what’s in Romney’s tax returns? It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate .
@stonetools: “Ever heard of the adverse inference rule ? (I know Doug has).”
Doug has been quite studiously pretending he’s never heard of it.