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Tax return slippery slope

Tax return slippery slope

I saw this coming from a mile away.

Mitt Romney’s original position that he would not release his income tax returns, a position he held to for several weeks, now is slipping.

At the debate last night Romney gave a convoluted answer that he “probably” would release the tax returns in April — after he likely will have wrapped up the nomination if he stays on the current trajectory.  The answer was cringe-worthy:

Newt is not letting it go:

Newt Gingrich says Mitt Romney should release his tax returns before primary voters head to the polls in South Carolina on Saturday.

“It’s interesting that Romney agreed that he ought to release his income taxes but he doesn’t want to do it until April,” Gingrich said Tuesday on CBS. “I think the people of South Carolina ought to know now – if there’s nothing there, why hide it until April, and if there’s something there, don’t the people of South Carolina deserve to know before Saturday?”

At this point Newt and the others don’t need to convince people there is a problem in the tax returns — they just need to plant seeds of doubt as to Romney’s general election electability which influence voters on Saturday.


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If he’s going to give non-answers like that, he’d better find a used car salesman to give him lessons.

    shortwave8669 in reply to Kitty. | January 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

    While I will vote for the eventual GOP nominee without exception in November 2012 there are some important concerns about Romney. There are no perfect candidates this time, nor have there ever been.

    Wouldn’t Romney be a replay of Bush 41? A decent man beholden to Conventional Wisdom on each and every issue? Remember “Read my lips, No New Taxes”? How about the ADA expansion of federal power? Certainly better than Obama. But that is a very low threshold to cross

      Well if Romney appoints Sununu to CoS like HW Bush did, you CAn expected a “read my lips” type of debacle and a SCOtUS nominee like Souter as well.

    janitor in reply to Kitty. | January 17, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I wonder why he just did not say “I have not yet decided”, and then stop talking. Oh, I know why. Because he wanted to sound like he was indeed “promising”. B.S. Being recorded sucks.

Last summer, watching the debates, Santorum got me because he understood the demolition of the family is the root of so many of our problems. Poverty, crime to start the list.

Also, he didn’t posture like Ron Paul. Paul said he’d get rid of 5 departments. GREAT. And then Santorum pointed out that probably wouldn’t get through congress. I like that realism. I don’t want to get high on sugar and then crash.

Santorum has gotten things done in congress and Paul really hasn’t. So although I prefer Paul’s libertarian beliefs, Santorum actually gets things done for people. That’s why I asked, if Paul was elected, exactly HOW would he accomplish the things he advocates? I don’t see the mechanism.

Then Gingrich got good in the debates. But really, Gingrich’s positions aren’t better than Santorum’s. What’s different is that Gingrich articulates the basis for the beliefs better. This is really a debate technique that anyone could learn including Santorum who’s a smart man, and is reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s techniques as illustrated in her novels and explained in her collections of essays. She used the term “intellectual package deal.” Juan Williams used such a package deal and Gringrich deconstructed it into its assumptions which then showed how each of William’s assumptions was a confession of bad beliefs.

I believe it safe to say that Obama will avoid debating if Gringrich is the nominee and the press will give him cover just as they do for his cigarette smoking and everything else.

It wasn’t Santorum’s best night. But he believes the same things. I may be projecting here, but I think he was frustrated and angry at the unfairness of Romney getting so much time, and himself getting a paltry amount.

It truly truly seems that Romney must have paid for the forum and everyone else was just his guest, and had to accept what the host granted. Personally, I’d be ashamed as a journalist to participate under those conditions and such clear bias.

As for the tax returns, at core I’m a libertarian. The Federal Reserve is an anathema and the income tax an abomination. I’m opposed to any candidate revealing his tax return. I’m far more interested in birth certificates that will help me evualate if the candidate has a basis for a genuine love of country, or a genuine basis for resentment of our country.

I also think the press once again proves their lap dog mentality by not asking Obama about his records from school, college, the Illinois legislature, et cetera.

Gringrich wants the returns to embarass. I prefer to stand on principle and not ask for the documents produced under duress for the state.

Santorum 2012

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Karen Sacandy. | January 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

    “I believe it safe to say that Obama will avoid debating if Gringrich is the nominee and the press will give him cover just as they do for his cigarette smoking and everything else.”

    The debates have already been scheduled. There will be three in October. Same with the VP debates.

    He can’t avoid the debates, but the media will still cover for him and puff up his performance.

    “Gringrich wants the returns to embarass. I prefer to stand on principle and not ask for the documents produced under duress for the state.”

    As does Santorum, Perry, Paul, and the Obama campaign. At this point its not so much a question of what is in them, but why is Romney trying so hard to not release them? I believe pretty much every presidential candidate has released their tax returns (even Obama!); its a fairly standard practice… establishes trust and all of that. I really don’t see how asking why he doesn’t release them is “…documents produced under duress for the state”. That’s really kind of overblowing it, don’t ya think? Either he releases them or he doesn’t. He certainly doesn’t have to… but as long as he stonewalls, the question will remain in voters minds ‘what is he hiding?’. And his opponents won’t let them forget it.

      why is Romney trying so hard to not release them?

      Good question, especially, as he contends, “I have nothing in them that suggest any problem.”

        workingclass artist in reply to Kitty. | January 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

        Perry uses this tactic a lot because in Texas as an elected official he has to release his tax returns every year. He used this against Bill White who refused to release his tax returns from the Clinton years (White was a dep. energy sec. who started an energy company after he left that Clinton admin.) In 2010 Perry womped White’s ass and led an historic republican sweep in Texas creating a super majority in both houses.

        “Republicans sent 22 incumbent Democrats packing and this changed a narrow majority of 76 republicans to 74 Democrats last session to a 99 to 51 lead for the next session. Republicans are waiting on one recount to see if they will have a 100 vote super majority. Only two years ago Texas Republicans held their breath on a recount to see if they would be in a 75-75 tie.

        There will be 31 new Republicans coming to the Texas capitol and only 6 freshman Democrats. The “WD-40s” have been wiped out. Only one white Democrat over age 40 survived the Tuesday night election. They owned the Texas legislature until about 1980 and have dwindled away to near extinction.

        Legislators will find the same solid Governor waiting on them in Austin. Republican Rick Perry handily defeated Houston’s Bill White 55-42 to win a 3rd term.”

        Texas and Tennessee top the states in governmental transparency scoring a 96%.

        Perry called for Mitt’s tax returns weeks ago and Palin picked up on it last week.

      Karen Sacandy in reply to Snorkdoodle Whizbang. | January 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Hm. “What is he hiding by not releasing his original long form birth certificate?”

      Hasn’t hurt Obama.

      Karen Sacandy in reply to Snorkdoodle Whizbang. | January 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

      “I really don’t see how asking why he doesn’t release them is ‘…documents produced under duress for the state’. That’s really kind of overblowing it, don’t ya think?”

      Hm. I agree with P.J. O’Rourke in “Parliament of Whores.” Putting a gun to Granny’s head to make her pay for someone else’s babysitter expenses doesn’t cut it with me. Yet we’re spending taxpayer money on alot of MUCH MORE FRIVOLOUS things like that, like studying prostitutes in Brazil or China or both. Or was it homosexuals drinking in bars in Brazil? I don’t remember.

      Anyone who forgets the barrel of a gun is what backs up our state and federal tax systems is living in self-induced delusion, and ignores its basic immorality.

      I never forget.

    I very much liked Santorum’s “three things” response to the alleviating poverty question. This was one of the moments in the debate that seemed to flummox the gotcherator.

DINORightMarie | January 17, 2012 at 10:08 am

Proving, once again, that Republicans must want to lose since he is the “anointed” candidate.

Newt looked marvelous, from what I’ve seen today. (I wasn’t well last night, so I missed the best debate so far, darn it!)

Will it be enough to shift opinions to Newt?

OT – what is the “undecided” percentage in SC? Also, is there any idea what the CNN Thursday debate will be focusing on?

senttocoventryri | January 17, 2012 at 10:08 am

I don’t know if Mitt’s not-released tax returns will be a problem in the general election. President Obama’s not released college-transcripts didn’t seem to slow him down any.

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to senttocoventryri. | January 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    “I don’t know if Mitt’s not-released tax returns will be a problem in the general election. President Obama’s not released college-transcripts didn’t seem to slow him down any.”

    Ah, but any republican candidate won’t have a recumbent press steadfastly avoiding the question or actively marginalizing anyone who brings it up. Kind of a big difference there…

Everybody else did it, no?

We need to be told why such a great all-American business hero would be so secretive re his 1040s… cough em up Mittens

I’d bet $10,000 bucks that there is no glaring problem in Romney’s tax return other than extraordinary wealth — which he knows will not play well with the 99% mantra.

    janitor in reply to MerryCarol. | January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    And interesting schedules, iffy deductions, capital gains from Bain as retirement pension, carry-forward losses wiping portions of current income (which would not be sweet for an ostensible business savior), an effective tax rate that’s lower than that paid by the average secretary, interesting tax credits, routine late filing… There could be all kinds of things on there. I’d prefer to see his tax return from 2008, not 2011.

      punfundit in reply to janitor. | January 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      Bain has one of the largest tax legal firms in private employment, chock full of former IRS types and tax legal eagles. While it’s certainly possible that Romney was no beneficiary of their services, can anyone be certain that he didn’t?

Wow, you’ve reached full on hypocrisy. Before it was Mitt wouldn’t release his return but Newt would, if he won the nomination. Which you defended. Now its wrong for Mitt to wait until April but would have been perfectly acceptable to you for Newt to wait that long. In fact the exact comment from you on Dec 23rd at 1:18pm was “No one is saying release it now, it’s a question of releasing it once someone becomes the nominee. Newt has agreed to do so. Romney should agree to do so also.”

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Zaggs. | January 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    By stating that he never would release the returns, and sticking to that position so long, Romney has made them a campaign issue. Had he announced at the beginning that he would release them if he became the nominee, it would have been a non-issue. Now everyone wants to know what he’s afraid of. He created his own problem.

      He created his own problem

      BINGO !!
      but the question is why.
      perhaps they are squeaky clean and releasing them will make it seem like a petty attack? maybe a lot of charities or something?
      I have been suspicious that the bain thing was engineered by his team and I am not adverse to the possibility this is also a setup.

      remember, he has had a LOT of practice running for this position…and suckers are falling for him.
      hes a glib bastard..

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Zaggs. | January 17, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Newt said definitively that he would release his returns. Romney said he ‘probably’ would ‘around April’. When parsing Romney, you have to note these weasel words. Come late April, when Romney still hasn’t released them, you can already hear him milking the weasel*:

    “If you go back and listen to that SC debate, I did NOT promise to release my tax records!”

    He left himself wiggle room. Why? Do we suppose the media or the Democrats will simply let it go?

    *Not a locker room euphemism for male masturbation – but it should be.

Via Bloomberg:


I think that Romney should agree to release his tax returns as soon as Obama agrees to release his college records.

    punfundit in reply to RCosta. | January 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    That will garner as much trust in Romney as it does in Obama.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to punfundit. | January 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Exactly. You can almost hear the Obama team: “Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

      Only Obama’s failure to release his college records was never made an issue by the media and, thus, the general public. Would seem hard for them to say that it creates a trust issue for Romney, but not for Obama.

        punfundit in reply to RCosta. | January 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Do you honestly believe Romney will receive the same fawning treatment by the dinosaur media establishment that Obama enjoys?

          Absolutely not, which is why I think it will be necessary to point out that hypocrisy from time to time. Gingrich has been the only candidate to do that effectively thus far.

I will add:

Considering Romney believes it’s okay to literally force all of us into whatever health plan he dreams up, it’s ironic he won’t release his returns.

He’s a hypocrite, but that we already knew. :^)))

I’d like to highlight the classiness displayed by the LI commenter community in not focusing on, nor even mentioning, the physical attributes of one member of the debate moderator panel, and I’m not referring to Brett Baier. Unfortunately, I am not so burdened with class.

Kelly Evans is HOT.

    Karen Sacandy in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Well her question on immigration was loaded with bad premises.

    She should be embarassed to be such an unoriginal thinker.

    They all should be.

Either his people are preparing a new clean tax return to be released that will have one-line net receipts or losses from pass-through entities (whose own detailed tax returns will not be released), or else he is planning to just not do it (only said “probably”) and thinks (correctly) that the refusal would be easier to deal with versus Obama.

Too bad one of the other candidates couldn’t tie in his wiping the Mass. hard drives clean to the income tax issue… “I suppose Gov. Romney can’t find his tax returns to show us, they were probably with the rest of the information he wiped clean from the state’s hard drives” or something to that effect… 😉

Would’ve been fun to see Mittens’ face go from semi-orange to bright red… LOL

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

The conservative position is to not release his tax returns. If he has not complied with election laws or tax laws, then charge him with non-compliance. Otherwise, he is presumed to have complied with his legal obligations. He has no legal or moral obligation to do more and his tax returns are nobody else’s business.

If we want to make it mandatory that candidates for president must disclose their tax returns, then the answer is pretty simple: change the law.

That said, there’s not a snowball’s chance he will stand on the correct original conservative principle because it is not politically expedient to do so. He’s already signalled he will flip-flop on this just as he’s flip-flopped on every other issue.

And it is irrelevant that every other Republican candidate for president in the recent past has released his tax returns. That’s not the point. The point is that his original stance was the correct conservative one, and now he’s being pressured to flip-flop yet again for political purposes.

The point is this is not a man willing to take a principled stand.

Fox seems to get the most attractive ladies compared to the other networks. Megan Kelly is rather fetching if I do say so myself. MSNBC on the other hand, has the manish Rachel Maddow.

    janitor in reply to ldwaddell. | January 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I was thinking that!

    Karen Sacandy in reply to ldwaddell. | January 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Okay, I’m going drift off course here.

    Conservatives believe in feminine beauty. Liberals like dykes. Reno, Napolitano….

    ‘Nuff said.

    Like the “Juno” movie. That girl was so coarse, so disgusting, so lost, so everything unappealing. Do real boys find that attractive?!?! If that’s the younger generation, we are sunk.

    Oh – also — I find it FASCINATING that liberals use vulgar slang for homosexual acts to slur Tea Partiers, when they claim they approve of homosexuality and want others to show tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality to the point of the oxymoron “homosexual marriage.”

    Maybe the truth is they find their own homosexuality disgusting but can’t stand to admit it. Who knows? They’re confused!

    I have real sympathy for homosexuals and am a member of MaleSurvivor.Org, but don’t desire to have the otherwise successful rules of society changed to accommodate the 3% with internal issues.

    punfundit in reply to ldwaddell. | January 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm


This is why Romney won’t release his tax returns:

Luckily, as with RomneyCare, Obama will give him a pass.

Absolutely horrible answer from Romney, inexcusable because the issue was already out there, he needed a good response.

Of course, any “seeds planted” – I assume you mean allowing people to imagine wrongdoing, since you can bet the top tax accountants and lawyers reviewed the return – will have to be rather fast growing to sprout in a few days.

Of course, the whole thing about releasing tax returns is an old Democratic play, which usually happens later on. But we’ve already decided to go all OWS and scorched earth, so what the heck, right?

Newt had some terrific moments in the debate, keying off questions to make soaring attacks on Obama and liberals. He should ride this for the remaining days in SC. He should put up ads featuring these great moments. He should pound the same themes on the stump and in media interviews — whatever questions he is asked. If he does that, he has a good chance to come in second, elbow Santorum to the side, and make the case that he’s the not Romney choice, after all.

Instead, what does he do? He tries to make mileage out of Romney’s tax return stance. It may well be true that Romney will have trouble from the Dems over his disclosure or what is in the disclosure. That remains to be seen.

What is undoubtedly true is that this is not going to be a big issue for SC Republicans who already know Romney is rich, know he made his money at Bain, and are not big on paying higher taxes or raising tax rates. Didn’t everyone on that stage last night compete vigorously with each other to propose the lowest tax rates — slashing them to unleash growth and spur opportunity by rewarding enterprise?

I’m afraid that every time Good Newt rears his head, Bad Newt comes along to remind people of what they find offputting.

Midwest Rhino | January 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Romney then: won’t release my returns
Romney last debate: I will release returns … in April
Romney before he can even finish the sentence: probably

Habitual flip flopper … they need to make a patch for that, like the nicotine patch.

But the last Rasmussen poll has him up even more …
Mitt 35% …
Newt 21% …
16%, 16% Rick Ron

that’s after Huntsman announced, but before the debate.

The current capital tax rate is 15% through this election year! Magically raising in 2013 to ordinary income rates! (I respect Palin, Perry and Gingrich for taking this on and getting the ball rolling on what 15% means.)

This is why I think Gingrich gave the answer he did of 15%.

GINGRICH: I would like to see it be a flat tax at 15 percent and I would like to see us reduce government to meet the revenue, not raise revenue to meet the government.

So, what Mitt Romney has to explain to me is private equity and carried interested for general partners, and who are the limited partners. Just in general….for any private equity firm, heck, hedge funds too. I don’t even need his tax return at this point.

Why not explain capitalism and the tax code as it is. He’s in a position and well versed on what it is. Better him than the Democrats in the fall who will make it look like a Republican problem only. Here’s the CBO’s explanation from 2007

pg 1 “A general partner of a private equity or hedge fund typically receives two types of compensation: a management fee tied to some percentage of assets under management and “carried interest” tied to some percentage of the profits gener- ated by those assets. The management fee is taxed as ordinary income to the general partner. Taxation on the carried interest is deferred until profits are real- ized on the fund’s underlying assets, and any resulting profits to the general partner are taxed at the capital gains tax rate to the extent the fund’s profits reflect capital gains.”

And then Interesting reading…and eye-opening is the Table 1 “Capital Investment in Private Equity by Type of Limited Partner”

pg 8 “It is worth noting that deferral of taxation on carried interest generates a tax benefit to the general partner (who does not recognize income initially) but a tax cost to the limited partners (who do not enjoy a deduction or other reduction in taxable income at that point). Many limited partners are either tax-exempt entities in the United States or foreign institutions (see Table 1), however, so they may be largely unaffected by the lack of an immediate U.S. tax benefit. The net result is, there- fore, the overall deferral of a net tax liability.”