How much is enough? Three months ahead of the American presidential elections, wealthy Republican challenger Mitt Romney is resisting pressure from his opponent, President Barack Obama, to disclose more personal income tax records. The tussle between the Republican challenger and the Democratic incumbent brings into sharp focus a question at the heart of American politics today… “How much private financial data must we require a candidate for public office to provide for voters?” Romney says release of his tax records for the past two years is enough; Obama’s campaign says the former head of a hedge fund, whose personal net worth is approximately 250 million dollars (8 billion Roubles. 200 million Euros. 160 million UK Pounds), must release more data in the name of “transparency”.
On Thursday, Romney told reporters, “Over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent” in income tax, again, insisting that he wouldn’t release for public scrutiny anything beyond the 2010 and 2011 tax returns he’s already published. His remark came after US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, citing an unnamed “source” in the investment firm Romney once headed, said recently that Romney took advantage of loopholes, and paid no taxes on his substantial income for 10 years. Romney rejected that claim as “totally false”, and his wife, Ann Romney, reiterated in an interview last week with NBC News, that her husband would release no more personal tax information to the public before the 6 November election. Romney told Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this month, “We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments”.
In contrast, Obama released 12 years of his personal tax records. His supporters imply that Romney refused to publish more of his own records because he has something to hide, and analysts say he’s in a political quandary on the issue. Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts, a publisher focusing on tax policy, explained, “Mitt Romney isn’t the skimpiest, and he isn’t the most forthcoming, but he’s definitely on the skimpy end of the spectrum when it comes to disclosure”.
The law doesn’t require American presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns, and there are no hard-and-fast rules dictating how many they should release. Historians and political scientists state that in the half century since the practise began, the number of tax returns candidates choose to disclose has fluctuated greatly. When Romney’s father, George Romney, the former governor of Michigan, ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968, for example, he released 12 years of tax returns to the public. However, the practice of releasing tax returns didn’t become entrenched in American presidential politics until 1973, when President Richard Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal that would result in his resignation, opened up his tax returns for the previous four years. Thorndike said, “Every president after that chose to release tax information in the interest of keeping things looking clean, and most major party candidates have released returns as well”.
Craig Holman, a veteran expert on governmental ethics with Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy group said that American presidential and vice presidential candidates are required to file personal financial disclosure reports, but the information divulged in these publicly available documents is extremely vague, noting, “Tax returns are much more explicit in revealing conflicts of interest”. Presidential candidates in Russia are required to submit publicly accessible declarations of their assets and income, and former President Dmitri Medvedev… now, the prime minister… signed a decree in 2009 mandating senior officials to release this information also. However, Ivan Ninenko, deputy director of Transparency International in Russia, said that both statutes leave room for a candidate or official to keep wealth hidden from the public.
In the USA, presidential candidates’ personal finances can impact voter opinion significantly in connection with the candidate’s broader reputation, according to Marc Hetherington, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University who has written extensively on the role of trust in American politics, pointing up, “Attacks against someone always work better when they play into an existing narrative about the person, and the existing narrative about Mitt Romney is that he’s a little slippery as relates to his positions on issues… and that he’s well off”. In a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted last month, 44 percent of respondents said they believed additional tax returns released by Romney would reveal damaging information about the candidate, whilst 42 percent said they believe the additional returns would not include anything detrimental to his White House bid. The poll had a margin of error of five percent.
Jamie Chandler, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York City, said, “If Romney released his taxes at this point, he’d be putting himself on the defensive in responding to the president’s attacks. You don’t want to yield to the opponent’s calls for you to do something”. Obama’s campaign last week offered a “deal” on the tax issue to Romney, calling on the Republican to release five years of his personal tax returns in exchange for putting the matter to rest as a campaign issue. Chandler stated that the furore over Romney’s tax returns might fade from public view following Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Democrats will likely find a “bigger political bang for their buck” attacking Ryan’s contentious plans for the federal budget, which critics say would negatively impact the middle class and the poor whilst providing tax breaks for the wealthy.
20 August 2012
George Romney released 12 years of his personal tax records (as did the Prez)… his son, Wafflin’ Willy, refused to release more than two years worth of his records. This shows to all but the slow learners that Willy has contempt for the public, that he’s secretive, and that’s he a wilful and juvenile brat. The only reason for refusing to release these records is that Willy’s hiding something. If he were elected (not probable, but if he were), he’d reinstate the policy of torture at secret black sites abroad, and he’d make Joe McCarthy look like a kindergartener, insofar as smearing people is concerned. A vote for Willy is a vote for “the public be damned”.
Oh… Willy’s father worked together in amity with Walter Reuther… Willy’s a ravening anti-union lunatic. In this case, the apple DID fall far from the tree…
Special Note to Orthodox People:
The konvertsy are virtually all members of the Extreme Right. Key members of this cabal are Freddie M-G, Patrick Reardon, John Whiteford, Jonas Paffhausen, Rod Dreher, and Terrence Mattingly. They don’t raise a ruckus over Willy’s refusal to come clean. Does this mean that they approve of secrecy and skulduggery in high places, both in the church and in the state? Look at the history of the Church in the USA over the last ten years, and it’ll give you an answer. In short, the people named aren’t worthy of your respect or trust… they believe in dishonesty in both the Church and state, and that’s sad. Do note that most of those that I named are disciples of and deeply influenced by the questionable Gleb Podmoshensky… it does put their rants about “homosexuality in high places” in a different light, doesn’t it?
NO… don’t run a witch-hunt. That’d be falling into the same hole that these jabronies are in. However, DO note down who’s doing what, and do your best to remove them from positions of influence. That’s what grounded Christians do…