Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is no longer insinuating that Mitt Romney paid no federal taxes over the last 10 years. But he’s showing no contrition and continues to maul Romney for withholding tax returns from voters.
“The information released today reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he’s seen fit to show the American people - and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements,” Reid said in an official response to the release of Romney’s 2011 return, and a brief summary of his tax payments over the last 20 years.
That raises the question: what else in those returns has Romney manipulated? We already know Romney has money in tax havens in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. What we don’t know is why he refuses to be straight with the American people about the choices he’s made in his financial life. When will the American people see the returns he filed before he was running for president? Governor Romney is showing us what he does when the public is looking. The true test of his character would be to show what he did when everyone was not looking at his taxes.
It’s also galling to see the creative accounting Mitt Romney applied to his own tax returns only days after learning of his insulting comments that seniors, soldiers and hard-working parents don’t pay enough taxes. Once again, we see Mitt Romney is out of touch with middle class families, who don’t have the luxury of accounting wizards and foreign tax shelters. It’s obvious he believes in two sets of rules: one for him, and one for the middle class. He says he wants to be president for only half the people but he acts like he only cares for the top two percent. Despite the fiscal cliff looming in just over three months, Mitt Romney refuses to explain the details of his tax policy. Will the policies he proposes benefit all Americans, or only multi-millionaires like him?
Reid more than any other Democrat forced scrutiny of Romney’s finances by claiming he’d been told by a mutual acquaintance that Romney effectively paid no taxes at all.
Judging by public statements, Democrats won’t ease their drumbeat for more disclosure.
“The American people deserve more than a summary of Gov. Romney’s returns filtered by his campaign,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), the top Democrat on the tax writing House Ways and Means committee. “Gov. Romney clearly has his old tax returns at the ready, so why does he continue to hide them from the public? Gov. Romney seems to believe the American public should hold him to a lower standard than he holds his own vice presidential nominee — who was required to turn over 10 years of tax returns — and lower than the tradition of previous presidential candidates.”
Of course, Republicans hope this means the controversy will subside. Asked for a response to Reid’s statement, the Romney camp forwarded the following from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
“Mitt Romney has now released more than 1,200 pages of tax returns, giving voters an incredibly detailed look at his finances,” he said. “Now that the most recent tax return has been released, it’s time to get back to discussing the issues that voters care about.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.