National Review To Romney: Release Your Tax Returns

The editors of National Review are the latest on the right to call on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns:

Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.

If he releases more returns, Romney will be in a better position to resist the inevitable demands for even more disclosures. More important, he will be in a better position to pivot his campaign to what should be its focus — telling a story, through a series of detailed, substantive speeches, about where he wants to take the country. It is to President Obama’s advantage to fight the election out over tactics and minutiae. By drawing out the argument over the returns, Romney is playing into the president’s hands. He should release them, respond to any attacks they bring, and move on.

The NR editors are joined by people like Brit Hume of Fox News, Townhall’s Guy Benson, and Ron Paul to call on Romney to end this idiotic intransigence. He needs to listen to them because, as I said yesterday, this will only get worse the longer he drags it out.

Update: ThinkProgress lists 15 prominent Republicans who have called on Romney to release more tax returns.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, 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. David M says:

    At some point, the longer he holds out, the worse people are going to assume the tax returns look. I’ve long assumed there isn’t anything illegal in the returns, but if he’s willing to go through all this negative publicity rather than release them? Maybe it’s more than just low tax rates.

  2. legion says:

    You want Romney comedy (Romedy? Is that a thing now? It should be.)? I got our Romedy right here, courtesy of the ‘ol Talking Pants Memo…
    Dated 17 July, 1:13pm: John McCain: I Didn’t Pick Romney Because ‘Sarah Palin Was The Better Candidate’
    Dated 17 July, 4:41pm: McCain: I Didn’t Mean Palin Was Better Than Romney

    I am now waiting for a response from Palin…

    Really, how can anyone take these clowns seriously?

  3. @David M:

    One theory that was circulating on the web today is that Romney’s 2009 return would show that he paid zero net taxes because of the losses his investments likely suffered as a result of the financial crisis and stock market crash

  4. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    But that should not be a hard sell for Romney: “I lost tons of money in the crisis so of course I paid no ‘income’ tax, there was no income.”

    Even a one year carry-over should be understandable.

    No tax in 2006 or 2007 would be harder to explain.

  5. Xerxes says:

    Hahahaha, there is nothing in polling data showing that this strategy is working. There is stasis and nothing more. The average American does not care what a private citizen does with his money. The average American goes to bed at night worried about the price at the gas pump or the price for a gallon of milk or the status of their job in the morning or the status of their unemployment.

    Every poll in this race is still showing the Romney-Obama matchup in the margin or error

  6. @john personna:

    You make a very good point, but you also assume that Romney’s campaign team would be able to craft that kind of message in a way that wouldn’t blow up in their faces.

    These guys did great in the primary, but that was mostly because they were running against total non-entities. Over the past several weeks, they have been incredibly fumbling. I have to believe that, somewhere you there, Republican big-wigs are on the phones talking about trying to force out some of the top campaign people and do a reboot.

  7. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Showing that Romney lost money, if he did, would tackle the whole “silver spoon” and “rigged game” thing as well.

  8. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Interesting theory….but as JP points out, that’s not unexplainable.

    What if, though, there are no losses? What if, rather, these years were boom years for Romney? It’s just as plausible, and possibly even a better explanation for his current stand.

  9. legion says:

    It’s axiomatic that no politician will answer a question unless he thinks that answer will benefit him. It appears that the Romney campaign thinks whatever pain they’re feeling from this is not worse than the pain they expect from actually releasing the documents… Whether or not they’re correct, they aren’t going to open up until the flames get significantly higher.

  10. john personna says:

    @Herb:

    OMG, what if HE was bailed out!

  11. john personna says:

    (The bailout of AIG likely touched a lot of big players.)

  12. legion says:

    Additionally, this entire foofaraw started because Mitt was touting his Bain experience as proof of his business skills. When people actually started looking at Bain during Mitt’s time there, they started asking about all the outsourcing/offshoring that was going on. So Mitt said “Oh, not then – by then I was doing something different!” just to keep from having to defend his company’s business practices. It’s entirely possible that whatever is keeping Mitt from releasing his returns is something that – in isolation – isn’t really all that bad, but that he just doesn’t have the backbone to stand up & defend.

  13. PJ says:

    @john personna:

    No tax in 2006 or 2007 would be harder to explain.

    He was running for President in 2008, so the 2006 tax return is most likely “fixed” too since I doubt that he thought he could get away with releasing no tax returns at all.

    Let say that the tax returns from 2006, 2010, and 2011 are all “fixed”, Potemkin tax returns, and the rest aren’t. A tax evading scheming Romney?

    Or maybe he only tithes 10% to the Mormons when he thinks his tax returns would be public, maybe he gives a lot more than 10%? That could become a problem among those who already have issues with voting for a Mormon.

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    One theory that was circulating on the web today is that Romney’s 2009 return would show that he paid zero net taxes because of the losses his investments likely suffered as a result of the financial crisis and stock market crash

    How could that be? Capital losses only offset capital gains and on top of that if there are additional capital losses they only can offset $3,000 in other income. Merely a pittance. Romney spends more at dinner. The remainder of such losses would be carried forward. Besides, Romney doesn’t strike me as someone who would sell into a bad market and thereby realize capital losses. Dude could live on dividends and interest alone until the end of time.

    The idea that the returns would show huge gains during that period makes more sense. Meaning that Romney profited from short selling. Definitely possible. The rich invest or are invested by others in hedge funds, not “regular” investments, and hedge funds in ’08 and in the first part of ’09 were short selling like demons.

    I don’t know that that’s the reason, however. Too many moving parts for Zombieland to digest.

    Methinks there are returns that would show a large contribution to one of those 501 organizations that’s de facto waaaaay to the left. I guess it could be something along those lines to a “charity,” a “civic” group, or a “welfare” group, that’s waaaaay to the right, but there are much fewer of those and truth be told Romney’s not really a conservative; in real life he’s far more liberal than conservative. I think that’s what’s going on here. That’s the skeleton in the closet. Back in the day, before he ever thought about running for Prez, at least as a Republican, he gave a lot of money to the likes of the Sierra Club or to Planned Parenthood or to something along those lines. That sort of thing would result in millions of conservatives sitting out the election, all but guaranteeing an Obama victory, unless the economy literally craters and perhaps even then too.

    That’s my speculation and I’m sticking to it.

  15. john personna says:

    Seriously, I wouldn’t expect NR to make the public call without asking on the QT what’s in them, and so this kind of argues that they are not important.

  16. David M says:

    @john personna: Only if you assume the other alternative is they never are released. If they do contain something negative, better it come out all at once now rather than in August after a month of speculation and negative press.

  17. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @john personna: Then why not release them? Also, is NR really that savvy?

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Methinks there are returns that would show a large contribution to one of those 501 organizations that’s de facto waaaaay to the left.

    Hmmm, interesting speculation. I’ll reiterate my equally unfounded speculation: he’s been under-tithing to the LDS.

    The fun thing is we’re speculating about Mr. Romney’s tax returns when – if Republicans were not retarded – we could be talking about a possible double-dip recession.

  19. @Tsar Nicholas:

    I’d think the top level pundits have back-channel communication on this. If they don’t, or either way really, it also gets around to “message discipline.”

    The Romney campaign advisers are in such ill-repute among Republican that there is open revolt?

  20. legion says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’ll reiterate my equally unfounded speculation: he’s been under-tithing to the LDS.

    That brings up another thought – if tithing is the issue, would Romney consider it worse to be caught out under-tithing or over-tithing? Shorting the Church would piss off a lot of his fellow Mormons, but if he was shoveling millions of excess dollars that way instead, how would that play with the evangelicals in the base that are already holding their collective noses to support him?

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @legion:

    Under-tithing would be an intolerable humiliation. As a church officer Romney has almost certainly been involved in strong-arming members to step up donations. (A practice not unique to the LDS.) If he would cheat his church he’d cheat anyone, and that would be fatal.

  22. John Peabody says:

    My guess is that he will release the returns 30 minutes before the VP announcement spectacle.

  23. mattb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’ll reiterate my equally unfounded speculation: he’s been under-tithing to the LDS.

    I guess it’s a possibility, but I tend to think it’s a very low possibility.

    I might have Romney all wrong, but I can’t see him shorting the church, especially based on other anecdotes which point to his strong commitment to the faith.

    That said, only time will tell.

  24. mattb says:

    What’s worse for Romney is that when he does release his returns, the phrases “reluctantly” and “only after the urging of fellow conservatives” will permanently be appended to the reports. Which will only further play into the narrative that he tends to reverse his own position when things start to go against him.

  25. john says:

    rommnry vice pres \pick first q is tell romnney to relise his tax t returns . and how many returns did you give to rommeny

  26. al-Ameda says:

    I’m guessing that tax write-offs for Ann’s Equestrian Dressage hobby probably won’t go over well with middle class voters.

    Some day there will be a law that will require all presidential nominees to provide 10 years of tax returns – not sure when that will be – but some day it’s going to be the law.

  27. The whole dressage thing, as I understand it, is actually covered under an LLC of which the Romney’s are only two of the members.

  28. Tlaloc says:

    Hmmm, interesting speculation. I’ll reiterate my equally unfounded speculation: he’s been under-tithing to the LDS.

    I was actually wondering the same thing. It’s one thing to cleave to a sort of fringe religion (from the view of an awful lot of people) , it’s another to espouse that you cleave to it while you disregard it in public. That’s just creepy.

  29. legion says:

    @michael reynolds: Interesting point… I think over-tithing would probably be more damaging to him politically, but the embarrassment of under-tithing seems like something Mitt would actually want to hide more.

  30. Nikki says:

    @legion:

    I think over-tithing would probably be more damaging to him politically

    How so? We already know he claims to be a devout Mormon. Over-tithing would confirm this. Under-tithing would mean that that is a lie, too.

  31. jpe says:

    One theory that was circulating on the web today is that Romney’s 2009 return would show that he paid zero net taxes because of the losses his investments likely suffered as a result of the financial crisis and stock market crash

    He probably paid some tax, although we know that his tax bill was no more than $1,370,000 (we know that because that’s what he had paid on his 2010 bill by 12/31/10 and he didn’t have a penalty. The only way he wouldn’t pay a penalty is if he paid at least 100% of his prior year tax liability)

  32. Ron Beasley says:
  33. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “These guys did great in the primary, but that was mostly because they were running against total non-entities. ”

    Somebody pointed out that Romney outspent these guys by some gawd-awful amount.

    When you’re up against amateurs, and can outspend by (say) 10 to 1, winning is easy.

  34. Barry says:

    @john personna: That’s Different Because He’s a Job Creator and the alleged Meltdown was all librulz’ fault.

  35. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “The whole dressage thing, as I understand it, is actually covered under an LLC of which the Romney’s are only two of the members. ”

    Which still boils down to a simple message: ‘Romney deducts his hobbies from his taxes – and you can’t’.