The second Mitt Romney announced he would not release his income tax returns if he becomes nominee I predicted it would not stand because the refusal would, at a minimum, create a major distraction.  It’s part of a larger problem with secrecy which will haunt Romney if he is the nominee.

The most likely scenario is that almost all of Romney’s income is taxed at the 15% long term capital gains rate, playing right into the hands of Team Obama in its Secretaries versus Bosses campaign theme.

Many commenters here believed Romney was setting a trap for Obama to complain, since Romney could say something along the lines of “I’ll release my tax returns when you release your college records….”

And indeed, one of Romney’s sons tried that line yesterday but stepped in it because he demanded not only college transcripts but Obama’s original birth certificate.  Feigned outrage followed, of course, from Team Obama.

The “tax returns for college transcripts” approach will not work.  There are effective ways to question Obama’s narrative, but holding the Republican nominee’s tax returns hostage is not one of those ways.

Romney has run a pretty brilliant campaign so far, so it it hard to understand why he is walking into this dead end alleyway.

The tax returns already have become an issue on which the left-blogosphere and Obama campaign are focusing:

 

Marshall finds the same issue I did:

So what’s the deal with Romney’s tax returns?  Or more specifically, what’s the deal with Mitt Romney letting himself get more and more nippy press by refusing to release his tax returns when virtually every serious presidential candidate of the last 40 years has done it?  Allow me to explain.

We already know Mitt Romney is a really, really wealthy guy.  But there have been a lot of rich presidential candidates.  And, though he was born to wealth, Romney also made a lot of money himself.  He’s also said he’ll release information about his wealth, his assets … a lot of stuff.  But just not the tax returns.

So what’s the deal?  It’s pretty simple.  We might say that a specter is haunting Mitt Romney — the specter of the Buffett Rule.

There is no worse question for a presidential candidate than “what is he hiding?”

So what is Romney hiding that is worth having the conversation be about his refusal to release income tax returns rather the disaster known as the Obama presidency?