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May 4, 2015

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Line of Attack: What is Mitt Romney hiding?

Editor’s note: Line of Attack is a feature that will run each week until the Nov. 6 election. In Line of Attack, we will parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack:Mitt Romney has refused to release his tax returns from any year before 2010. What does he have to hide?

Method of delivery: An ominous voice speaks over your standard cop-drama background music, and Romney’s face appears over IRS forms and a coastline that looks like it belongs on Grand Cayman. The narrator reminds viewers of Romney’s offshore accounts (no president has ever had one before), sky-high income, low-low income tax rate and his secrecy about his financial past, all as prologue to the kicker question: “What is Mitt Romney hiding?”

Strategy: Ever since Romney announced his bid, the Obama campaign has been trying to paint him as a rich elitist who operates by his own set of rules. How perfect, then, that this scuffle over his tax returns fell into their lap. Democrats and Republicans from the furthest ends of the political spectrum have been calling on Romney to make more of his tax returns public. Obama’s ad taps into that but with a tone meant to make the viewer suspect something shady is going on — like maybe Romney’s paying no taxes at all.

Fairness meter: Through the power of really obvious suggestion, the Obama ad comes as close as you can get to accusing Romney of being a tax cheat without actually saying, “Hey! That guy’s a tax cheat.” On its own, the worst-case scenario the ad lays out — that Romney may have paid no taxes at all in past years — elicits eye rolls and guffaws. It’s pretty hard, even for corporate filers with several loopholes at their disposal, to get a tax rate down to absolute zero (single digits, however, are totally possible; even Nevada Sen. Dean Heller managed that), and the IRS has never charged him with untoward activity.

But Obama didn’t invent the idea that presidential candidates should release their tax returns. Romney’s father, George, did, by turning over 12 years of his tax returns to a reporter when he ran for president 35 years ago. (Obama has, not uncoincidentally, released 12 years of returns.) Like his father, Romney’s presidential bid is based largely on his record as a businessman, and he’s getting regularly rammed with questions about his corporate history that might be cleared up by whatever is in those returns. Although Romney has a right to his privacy, he can’t expect people not to speculate about his secrecy, because as that iconic philosopher of our time, Dr. Phil, put it, “People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.”

That is why the ad as a whole is legit.

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  1. NOT releasing his tax returns...

    The BAIN of Willard's existence!

    Let us postulate...

    -The tax returns show that Mittens WAS with Bain after '99 and that he's been LYING...


    -The tax returns show that our Mr. Howell-Romney WASN'T with Bain after '99 and he LIED to the Mass. State Ballot Law Commission in order to run for Governator there...


    -The tax returns show that he WAS with Bain while Bain was shipping jobs overseas & plundering company pensions, before sticking the Government with those obligations.

    In summary...
    We'll see those tax returns when Hell Freezes Over.

    However you dice it...
    this TAXING ISSUE is your Waterloo, Willard!!!

  2. I believe being a candidate for President behooves one to be as forthcoming as possible; it is entirely legitmate to ask for his tax returns.
    This candidate being Mitt Romney, with the offshore accounts, history of financial secrecy, etc., makes the premise all that more germane.

  3. Of course...

    Hiding your DOUGH in OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS to AVOID PAYING TAXES would look rather UNTOWARD, even for a Howell-R.Money, wouldn't it, Mitt???

  4. Fellow Commenters and Ms. Demirjian's 8th grade summer intern,

    Don't I wish that the issue of private tax returns will make one ounce of difference as to who is the better man to be President. Apparently, I am in the minority as usual.


  5. Just about 232 years from now, a scientific expedition is launched to an area of the western continental United States where the ancient lost city of La Jolla, California used to be located.

    Along the coast, the American historical archaeologist digs, scrapes and brushes away at the sand and dirt carefully in the vicinity where a mansion once stood. A place that catered to a rich, powerfully elite family that was only rumored to exist.

    Suddenly, unearthed is a relic from the past: An ancient briefcase. After careful research on how these old methods of business carrying implements were used, it was discovered how to open it.

    The lid was opened slowly. To reveal what lay within.

    After the scientist blows the dust and lifts ages old papers out to the light of day, he smiles and holds the yellowed parchments up in the air and loudly screams....

    "Eureka! We've found it! And we thought they were lost to posterity! ROMNEY'S TAX RETURNS!"

    That sounds far fetched.

    But, as each day goes by, it is not stretching the truth.

    We'll NEVER see his tax returns.

    And that's okay. Because he'll soon be forgotten. Only a footnote in American political history.

    Obama/Biden 2012! AND a Democratic Party majority in both the Senate and the House!

  6. "Twenty years of Romney returns were vetted by the the FBI for McCain during the 2008 election."

    It is estimated that offshore accounts contain between $21 to $31 trillion dollars. This money, sitting in bank accounts does not create jobs and additional deposits from foreign sources are not visible to the FBI.

    The FBI does not have access to offshore and Swiss accounts, therefore they are 'vetted' by necessity, not facts. Nor is McCain in charge of vetting Republican tax returns.

  7. There they go again! Envious green-eyed monsters who never made it on their own and who never will; carping about inconsequentials because their champion Osama Obama, has little positive to run on and is flailing about desperately, looking for anything that will divert voters attention away from the fact the he is inept, inexperienced and unqualified to sit in the Oval Office. They don't want to talk about 14% unemployment among black adults; 36% among young blacks. They want to hide from 3 1/2 years of 8% or higher unemployment; of Trillion $ deficits; soaring debt; and Billions in wasted "stimulous funds." They carp & complain about "off-shore" bank accounts because they either have none themselves (here or anywhere) or theirs are so thin they are embarrassed by the fact. They obsess about a "dog-on-the-roof." They mock Mitt's wife's fight with debilitating disease, but they run like frightened rabbits from Osama Obama's putrid record! What a sorry mess they truly are! Hey guys, try & come up with something positive about the guy with the Cheshire Cat grin, vacuous agenda and little else! For the rest of us, let's stop Osama Obama and his fellow travelers in their bid to "transform" the USA. Let's "transform" Osama Obama into a 1-term president. Come this November, vote Mitt!

  8. @Future: When did the FBI start examing candidates tax return as part of the vetting process???

    @Future: What proof is available that supports your charge that President Obama instructed the IRS to provide information on Mitt Romney's tax returns?

    @Future: FATCA was enacted in 2010 by Congress as part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. FATCA requires FFIs to report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The law targets non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. Another phase of the law was implemented on February 8, 2012. What information supports your comments that Mitt Romney is Okay? Or, is this an assumption?

    @Future: What information do you have to support your claim that President Obama is using the IRS and the Labor audits to harass Mitt Romney donors?

    Thanks. Good discussion.

  9. Romney: "I'm runnin' fer office, fer Pete's sake... I can't have paper trails and tax returns blowin' around in my front yard....."

  10. 12 years in the 60's were 12 sheets. Romney is "green" trying to save forests. I know, we publish 3,000 page bills that nobody reads, endless budgets that nobody reads. Face it..all you want out of a tax return is two don't care about the other half a million pages to be wasted. (As far as I am concerned, reporters should have to display their tax returns and update every year they have an opinion.) Now, lets move on, should Jessie Jackson be here talking about gun control, or should he be in Chicago neighborhoods talking? Or helping his son get better?

  11. Throes...

    This cat is NOT NORMAL...

    "He seems incapable of natural conversation and frequently uncomfortable in his own skin. He's simultaneously dorkily earnest and ingratiatingly insincere. He suggests a brilliantly designed politician android with an operating system still clearly in beta. He once tied a dog to the roof of his car and drove for hundreds of miles without stopping and some years later thought that was an endearing story. All video of him attempting to interact with normal humans is cringe-inducing, as a cursory YouTube search quickly demonstrates. (Martin Luther King Day, Jacksonville, Fla., 2008: Mitt poses for a picture with some cheerful young parade attendees. As he squeezes in to the otherwise all-black group, he says, apropros of nothing, "Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof!") He seems to have been told that "small talk" is mostly made up of cheerfully delivered non sequiturs."

  12. Romney made his tax returns relevant. He complains the rich are taxed too much, well show us. So far he has only shown he pays an effective tax rate lower (13.9%) than my own middle class effective tax rate (18.6% in 2010). Romney has supported a Republican plan to cap federal spending to 18% of GDP. He doesn't even pay the 18% he supports.

    How does a person have an IRA opened in 1984 have a value over 100 million. Remember IRA contributions are capped at $5,000 per year. So his 140,000 principal grew to over 100,000,000. Many have speculated he issued preferred stock from Bain at say 1000 shares valued at $5,000, he then contributes this value to his IRA, then declares $10,000 per share quarterly dividends. Very shady, but without his complete returns nobody knows how he accomplished such a rate of return (higher than Bernie Madoff).

    Remember a few years back a Swiss Bank (UBS) executive turned over to the IRS a list of Americans with Swiss bank accounts. Instead of prosecuting these tax cheats the Bush administration granted amnesty to those who voluntarily came forward and admitted they were tax cheats. Was Romney one of those granted amnesty? The lack of reporting a Swiss bank account prior to the amnesty would suggest yes.

  13. Romney is such a Toadstool. He has all, but, admitted to his intent to buy off the Electoral College to win this election because this elitist KNOWS he cannot win it by merit. What makes this worse is that Shelly A. is willing to give him that much more $$$ to ensure it happens.

  14. @Future

    There is no evidence the FBI has vetted a candidates Tax Return. Where did you guys get this information?

    In order to have an informative discussion the leaders of the discussion must start with facts. The majority of the comments made after @Future's comments are implying @Future's comments are factual? Therefore, all comments referenced to @Future's comments provide the readers with information to continue the discussion with the expectations of a spirited discussion based on factual or accurate information. When the information is misrepresented or not true at all, the discussion becomes useless.

    Note to the writer of this article:
    It is best that "you" moderate discussions initiated by you or other writers from the Sun on the article encouraging discussions. Many of us readers notice that you state the goal is to elevate discussion, which is printed on the bottom of the page, yet there a lack of authority of the facts in providing direction for an accurate discussion of what you have written. After one has googled the comments by many of the commentors, one finds the discussion for the most part is wasted because of the inaccurate claims made by uninformed posters, or posters having intent to misrepresnt.

  15. When Romney was asked if he liked world peace, he enthusiastically smiled, nodded and said yes, of course I do.

    It came out later he realized he was totally mistaken.

    He thought they said whirled peas.

  16. Prediction: If Mitt Romney somehow is elected president this year, he will be forced to resign in disgrace before his term is up much like the "I am not a crook," Republican president, Richard Nixon.

  17. Poor TeaNuts...

    When his guy gets CLOCKED *(again) will he admit the propaganda was useless?


  18. Fair? Only if Obama releases the sealed college records of admission, transcripts and those anti-American papers he wrote, the sealed records of why his law license was surrendered, etc.

    Off shore accounts? All admitted and previously vetted. All declared and no taxes were avoided. All legal. Only an issue for the profit is bad, I'm jealous if you are more successful than I, the world owes me a living crowd. Why not released? Because the Obama campaign will make another career out of making something out of nothing with pointless accusations and innuendo based on class warfare and envy.

  19. gmag39 You have explained the Mitt Romney situation as perfectly as can be presented.

    I want to see those years in question tax returns of his or I will not vote for him.

  20. SunJon The FBI had nothing to do with vetting Romney's tax returns for McCain.

  21. Purgatory - It could make a huge difference. As pointed out by gmag99:

    -The tax returns show that Mittens WAS with Bain after '99 and that he's been LYING...


    -The tax returns show that our Mr. Howell-Romney WASN'T with Bain after '99 and he LIED to the Mass. State Ballot Law Commission in order to run for Governator there...


    -The tax returns show that he WAS with Bain while Bain was shipping jobs overseas & plundering company pensions, be

  22. If it were me I would have released more early in the campaign and gotten it out of the way. I think it was a mistake not release them unless he has a reason.

    I don't know that we need 20 years worth. Common sense tells us what we need to know, Romney believes in free enterprise and success is not an embarrassment to him.

    As long as all taxes due were paid and not evaded and no laws were broken, what's the point?

    Now, if he evaded payment or cheated, like half the Obama administration, that would be worth knowing.

  23. Correction about Obama's law license:

  24. All this hot air about releasing records from the supporters of an unqualified president.

    If the media would spend 1% of the energy they spend on Romney, on Obama, you all would be hiding your Obama love and avoid taking about politics all together...

    But facts and liberals never are the same... Hiding all education and financial records is the only way they could make Obama electable.

    So What's HE hiding??

  25. If he is such a good businessman how come he didn't clear this issue up years ago when Ted kennedy ran the same campaign against him? Romney has made the calculation that hiding his past is better than the public finding out about it. There must be something really bad in those returns.

  26. Dear GOP: you've undercut your own argument.

    First, the GOP and associated tea party loons have spent the past four years in a collective frenzy that Obama wasn't vetted. Not only did your party and it's birther affiliates question Obama's BIRTH PLACE, but you've spent time questioning largely irrelevant details about his time spent in college.

    (Note, you didn't care about college performance when electing and then reelecting George W. Bush, now did you?)

    So I have to chuckle, as so much energy and hysteria has been spent by your party on trivial matters, when your party suddenly pulls the clumsiest 180 in history whilst defending Romney for keeping his tax returns secret.

    Obama's been in the public spotlight for several years now, and even the best Breitbart goons and Drudge druthers have yet to dig up a single skeleton in the closet. You must be livid with the incompetence of the investigators in your party.

    But yet... the GOP Investigator in Chief, DONALD TRUMP, says his investigators have evidence that the birth certificate is fake! I beg you to continue down that road.

    Your party has spent 4 years whining about college transcripts and birth certificates, yet you think Romney's tax returns don't matter?

    No one's buying it. We're just laughing at you.

  27. NO mention in the article that ALL Mitt Romney's actions were legal.I pay my accountant big bucks to NOT pay more in taxes, and am sure Omamba accountant took advantage of all tax laws. How many years has it taken to get Obamas' birth certificate? The posters who have numbers would do well to post dollars paid in taxes, not percentages, that would be a bit different.. that may show who actually pays more in taxes.

  28. Not a good ad for the Baraka. Reminds people of all the stuff he's trying to hide.

    Like his birth certificate.
    Or his social security number (issued from CT while he resided in HI).
    Or his sealed passport records, medical records, school records (all the way to elementary school) including Harvard, Columbia, and Occidental.
    His Illinois Senate records are missing as are his scheduling records from that same time.

    Who paid for his University tuition is a secret, but there are indications it was paid by a foreign source. His birth certificate is a phony and his selective service card may have been doctored.

    It's estimated that his legal team has spent over $1.4 million to prevent access to any part of Obama's past.

    Why? If he's got nothing to hide? Why not, if he's not the man he claims to be, or is just legally unable to be President?

    And this guy claims Romney is hiding stuff? How far can his hypocrisy go?

  29. "It's estimated that his legal team has spent over $1.4 million to prevent access to any part of Obama's past."

    Actually, that's not estimated by any REPUTABLE source, JudgeRoyBean, aka Klaus Steinke.

    Fact Check:

    "WorldNetDaily has noted that FEC filings show that Obama's presidential campaign has paid out more than $1.7 million since the election to the law firm of Perkins Coie. Until recently, that firm was home to Obama's campaign lawyer, and now White House counsel, Robert Bauer--the very same DC lawyer, says WND, who has defended Obama in many of the birther lawsuits. Ergo, WND concluded, Obama must be devoting that entire $1.7 million to crushing birthers in court. This is a ridiculous claim: Even after an election is over a presidential campaign has plenty of need for lawyers as it winds down operations and meets campaign finance law requirements."


    "[Obama's] social security number (issued from CT while he resided in HI)."

    Sorry to burst your bubble. May want to cut down on that steady diet of conspiracy theory email forwards.

    Birthers are allergic to the truth.

  30. There is no reason to see more tax returns, They are boring details that will not impact your voting decision one bit. It's just a diversion fot the liberals to get everybody's mind off the lousy job that Obama is doing. Basically, you seen one or two you've seen enough.Shut up and move on!

  31. Thanks, kepi and SickOfSomeOfU. Laughter is what makes the world go round. After all, life is kinda....funny.

  32. In Israel today, Mitt Romney praised Israel's Socialized health care system.

    In part he said: "..our (American) health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you're a pretty healthy nation".

    "We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more."

    Israel considers medicine a force to be used for the common good, not an enrichment vehicle for those who manage it.

    So - if socialized medicine is such a wonderful thing for Israel, why not America? In Israel, every citizen is entitled to to health care services regardless of pre-existing conditions.

    Yet, this is what Romney will eliminate in America if given the chance.

    Why does Mitt Romney want America as a "pay our own way" partner in the next Iran-Israeli war? To defend socialized medicine? What is Romney hiding?