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When Romney has lost Chris Christie (on releasing tax returns)

When Romney has lost Chris Christie (on releasing tax returns)

Chris Christie on the Today Show this morning:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Mitt Romney’s most popular and visible surrogates, said Wednesday the Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor should release his tax returns as soon as they’re available.

“I would say if you have tax returns to put out, you know, you should put them out sooner rather than later because it’s always better in my view to have complete disclosure, especially as the front-runner,” Christie said on NBC’s Today Show.

The returns are available, from 2010, 20009, ….  Apparently Romney is only “probably” going to release 2011, which likely will not be done until April.

I don’t think he’s worried about his “probably” 15% effective tax rate.  Nor should he be.  I’m beginning to think there are other things on there from prior years he doesn’t want people to see.

Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer had some good observations as to how it was inexplicable that Romney did not have a better answer on tax returns, and also how Romney is incapable of explaining conservative principles:

O’Reilly wondered why Romney was apprehensive to explain his capital gains tax policies. “I don’t know what they are afraid of, I think they are intimidated by the press,” O’Reilly observed quizzically. “I really think the press intimidates Romney and some of the others.”

“I don’t know if it’s the press,” Krauthammer replied. “But he simply doesn’t have the capacity to explain with some color and sort of force conservative ideas. He is a businessman. he, you know, he looks like he is chairing a meeting of the board….

Unfortunately, Krauthammer then suggested that Romney should have compared his Bain experience to Obama’s GM and Chrysler experience (which Romney already has done).  Oh, the depths to which we must plunge in order to protect Romney’s Bain narrative, oh, I mean, capitalism and free markets:


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Going by this logic there must be things in the prior year releases that Newt Gingrich is scared of.

There’s a big imbalance, here. Republicans want to know everything about their candidates, so they can reject them.

Democrats want to hide the flaws of their candidates, so the voters will elect them.

I prefer the “outing” process, but I see the disadvantage. I hope it will turn out to be temporary with respect to the current election.

Perhaps Romney doesn’t want it in the public sphere that he was still profiting from Bain during the years where companies were still being forced into bankruptcy (like Worldwide Steel and the toy company) as he has claims that was past his time with Bain.

The McCain opposition research document states a different picture.

StrangernFiction | January 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

You really can’t make this stuff up. Romney “doesn’t have the capacity to explain with some color and sort of force conservative ideas,” BECAUSE HE ISN’T A CONSERVATIVE!

And this Krauthammer fellow is supposed to be some sort of sage?

    Hope Change in reply to StrangernFiction. | January 19, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I know; seriously, I used to respect Charles Krauthammer, as did many people I know. No more. People are nonplussed. Charles Krauthammer appears to have lost his mind.

    Gee, Mr. Krauthammer, do you really think the ILLEGAL takeover of GM by the Obama administration is a GOOD DEFENSE or EXPLANATION of capitalism?

    Where the bondholders lost their money and their lawyer was called a TERRORIST by the White House when he tried to stand up for his clients, who were first in line to get paid? And did not get paid, but the unions did.

    Seriously. What has happened to this erstwhile sage?

“I don’t know what they are afraid of, I think they are intimidated by the press,” O’Reilly observed quizzically.”

You “think”?

The brouhaha over releasing tax returns is so tired. Are there voters out there who actually care about this?

I want to see his 2008 return. Just a hunch…

If Romney made his fortune selling tobbaco or porn or consulting with Freddie and Fannie I’m sure Dr. K would have been just as aggressive in his defense of free market capitalism.

This dogmatic defense of Bain by claiming it is an attack on “capitalism” does nothing to actually defend and explain capitalism and will get Romney chewed up in the general.

I’d be willing to bet that Newt could mount a stirring defense of Bain in a way that would win this debate with Obama. Romney, not so much.

    Newt can’t even decide to attack on Bain or not. So the idea he could make a defense beyond “Bain just studied the history of the companies” is kinda laughable.

Krauthammer’s comments are devastating. He may be getting some of his credibility back with me.

Romney hasn’t lost Christie, Christie is simply running interference, ie. helping with the stalling.

I’m not surprised “endorsers” are going to have to call for the release of the records. It’s not as if Gov. Romney has done anything illegal. However, it’s important to me to see how the game is played in influencing. Palin and Gingrich have got the ball rolling on uncovering for voters consideration how influence is garnered. Endorsers of Romney must be understanding that Palin and Gingrich are on that path.

The 15% effective rate is no surprise. Once Gingrich mentioned 15% as a flat tax rate at the last debate, I think Romney knew he’d better start revealing his effective rate. Again, nothing illegal.

The democrats seem to just think that they could demagogue via the carried interest provision for general partners of private equity and hedge funds, however, they probably planned to do that as the October surprise. The focus will then move to the so called “limited partners” partners of general partners. Of course, it’s not just Romney, I’m sure it’s the bundlers on both sides of the political aisle.

The link below points out

“Between 1999 and 2004, the Romneys’ giving went almost exclusively to non-political charities. Their gifts helped Boston and Massachusetts-based charities aiding education programs, deprived children and the homeless — although one $5,000 contribution to an AIDS relief group in 2004 was later criticized by conservative activists for supporting a gay rights agenda.

In 2005, around the time that Romney started laying plans for his first presidential campaign, Romney suddenly began directing contributions to influential conservative groups and programs. Late that year, Romney gave $25,000 to the Heritage Foundation and a similar sized donation to the Federalist Society. Tyler records show the Romney charity gave the groups $10,000 donations again the next year.”

“Romney’s own family nonprofit, The Tyler Charitable Foundation, was also cut into numerous Bain deals.”

It’s really not about the giving to his church, it’s more cutting his nonprofit Foundation into the numerous Bain deals, which then started directing contributions to influential conservatives groups and programs.

I’m sure Democrats and Republicans alike follow these types of methods, nothing illegal of course, but as a voter I’d like transparency from candidates on how these methods work.

In the end, perhaps the focus will then be on good policy and solutions for the nation rather than “the money” that influences elections in so many ways.

Really not an issue of giving to the Mormon church per se,

Good grief, roll up your trousers, because the (deleted) is getting deep.

I tried to email FNC’s Special Report last night, but could not get logged on. I wanted to ask Butch Baier whether anyone on his panel knew whether Newt has released his returns, and if not why weren’t they calling for him to do so.

So, I will ask the Professor. Have you seen Newt’s returns? If not, are you curious? Do you feel like a damn hypocrite when you join the chorus condemning a man for abiding by the law of the United States? Would you prefer that Romney talk like a damn fool, ala Buffett, by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy, while keeping his money in his pocket?

I see in the morning Washington Post fish wrap that Romney has given away millions. So, he doesn’t give it to the government to squander, but gives it to charities that he trusts; which is smarter? Which is more in line with conservative principles?

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | January 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

I think Christie is laying the groundwork for Romney to release them. After Romney said recently that he did not intend to release them, how does he gracefully change his mind and release them now? By getting his surrogates like Christie to say he should.

I think the whole episode makes Romney look weak. Once he decided not to release them, he had to anticipate he’d be criticized and accused of having something to hide. So he should have been prepared to respond to the criticism. He wasn’t. Which makes him look unprepared, indecisive, and willing to fold under pressure.

Which probably is not fair, but that’s how it looks to me.

“Financialization” has basically replaced capital with debt. I remember Mark Haines on CNBC complaining that the “well-heeled” were being bailed out of their 300:1 leveraged bets at Long Term Capital Management back around 1998. With that bailout came the moral hazard that led to even greater bailouts of more of the richest.

I haven’t heard Krauthammer explain his definition of capitalism, over which Charles so vociferously attacked Newt. Is the practice of leveraged debt and rehypothecation (the Madoff/Corzine tool used to leverage other people’s money into obscurity) really beyond reproach? Has our financial crisis taught us nothing about the problems of too much debt?

This zero hedge guy has a different view of “uncreative destruction”.

Lately, Bain founder and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has found himself in a spirited defense of the private equity industry, doing all he can to spin decades of data which confirm, without failure, that PE Leveraged Buy Outs are nothing but “efficiency maximizing” transactions whose only goal is the “maximization” of EBITDA in the pursuit of dividend recap deals, IPOs or outright sales, while loading up the company with untenable amounts of leverage.

Charitable donations to private foundations whose expenditures are questionable? Fees for sitting on corporate boards of companies that have failed, taken bailout money, or indicate conflicts of interest? Luxury items taken as business deductions? Technology transfers, local, state or federal government subsidies/grants, or other corporate welfare items? Profit-shifting or costs shifting between U.S. and foreign interests? Information that would open doors into additional information about current Bain operations, other companies and/or Romney family, friends or affiliates?

Christie also points out another weakness of Romney: lack of charm or empathy….

I’m thinking he, and every other candidate, needs to say “I will release it all WHEN OBAMA RELEASES HIS.” HIs, college transcripts, his life ephemera, that which would one day be ensconced in the Presidential Library.

Otherwise, we are engaging in more of the bloodletting on our side and letting the enemy sit there laughing, like he’s watching a Monty-Python movie.

OTOH, if he releases it he can say, “See, it’s not that hard, if I can do it, you can do it…..chicken! buk buk buk…”

First, if you don’t think Romney is or should be worried about his tax rate, you certainly did at one point.

Second, it was not Romney who compared his experience at Bain with Obama’s experience with Chrysler and GM, it was Rush Limbaugh. Believe it or not, they are not the same person.

These may seem like small misinformative statements, but I know you’re using them to build your negative narrative of Romney, so I thought I’d help by correcting them.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Awing1. | January 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    No, it was Romney who made the statement about what Obama did in the auto bailouts, the video is here (, and here’s the quote: ““In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business,” Romney said Wednesday on CBS.”

    As to your link to my prior post, you didn’t read the entire post. I said Obama would try to use the tax rate against him, but that Rommey should be able to deal with it: “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…. There are effective ways to question Obama’s narrative, but holding the Republican nominee’s tax returns hostage is not one of those ways.”

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to Awing1. | January 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Awning1: I doubt you care who gave you the “down thumb” vote, but I do not want you to think it was Professor Jacobson because he took the time to respond to you. I gave it to you.

    I distinctly remember Willard comparing his experience at Bain with how the Obama administration handled taking over car companies and closing down car dealerships. That makes your criticism wrong. And since the only time you seem to want to comment is when you think you’ve found something to be critical about a post, then it’s worth giving you a “down thumb” vote when your criticism is unfair or not based on fact.

When did Romney cease receiving income from Bain? Although he has not been CEO from sometime, I would guess he has been entitled to some type of package that may have recently ceased. That could be why he is unwilling to release 2009 and 2010 returns.

I have no problems with Romney making money legally. However, if he wants to be our nominee he should be willing to put everything out there so voters can make an informed decision. If he has received income from Bain during the period of time that he claims he was not involved in the day to day operations, Obama will be able to twist that in the general and make Romney responsible for decisions he did not make.

Henry Hawkins | January 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

It might be helpful to point out that the Romney himself made release of his tax returns an issue. It’s just human nature when a candidate says “I will not release XXX” to wonder why, to wonder what XXX is all about. This dynamic is not limited to tax returns.

Henry Hawkins | January 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Christie’s advice to Romney on releasing his tax returns comes either at Romney’s request or against Romney’s wishes. Either way, it does not reflect well on Romney.

The professor and others called this one precisely, and from the beginning (that it would be a problem and constituted an unforced error on Romney’s part).