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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/7/12

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

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Kathy Malloy
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The war of words between the Democrats and Team Mittens' sounds more preschool-playground than political pundit these days, with the Neocons taunting Harry Reid with liar liar, pants on fire-style tantrums over his revelation that a Bain Capital informant has knowledge that Romney didn't pay income taxes for a decade.  

Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus appeared on "This Week" Sunday and responded to George Stephanopoulos questions about Romney's possible un-American tax dodgery:

"As far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, I know you might want to go down that road. I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn't filed a single page of tax returns himself. (He) complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street," Priebus said.  Meanwhile, over at CBS' Face the Nation, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell  characterized Reid's claim as a "reckless and slanderous" charge."

Nancy Pelosi then issued a "double-dog dare" to the GOP contender to simply settle the matter by producing the returns in question. Gee, that would be so simple, wouldn't it? Kinda like when that walking hairflap know as "The Donald" forced the President to release his long-form birth certificate to prove his eligibility to serve his country.  Sadly, that wasn't sufficient for the mono-brow'd knuckle-dragging teabaggin' Birthers who moronically maintain he's some kind of foreigner, despite ample documented evidence.  

But that's a topic for another day.

At the heart of this controversy-turned-Kindergarten/Koch Brothers-spitball fight is the issue of political transparency.  And then there's the obvious -- if you've got nothing to hide, why not be honest and forthcoming with the public? Romney's Righties counter that it's a matter of principle and precedent -- after all, John McCain didn't pony up a decade of documents, why should Willard? Well, there's a matter of appearing honest and forthcoming, for one thing. And just a general sense of "truthiness" and trustworthiness that we like to see in our leaders, even if we know they're all used-car salesmen at heart.

Sure, McCain only released his last two tax returns and that was sufficient for most "mericans" in the last presidential race, but John was a warrior, not a capitalist. He only had to waive his war record to establish his boney-fides. Mittens is a multi-millionaire who's supposed razor-sharp business acumen is his central (only?) qualification to become CEO of these United States. There is reason for him to produce the very evidence of his stellar success, and prove that he wasn't robbing the federal coffers of the very nation he wants to lead.

Tax experts Edward D. Kleinbard and Peter C. Canellos, writing for CNN, wrote a brilliant piece detailing the reasons Romney's recalcitrance is so troubling:

"Romney's 2010 tax return, when combined with his FEC disclosure, reveals red flags that raise serious tax compliance questions with respect to his possible tax minimization strategies in earlier years. The release in October of his 2011 return will at best act as a distraction from these questions.

"So, what are the issues?

"The first is Romney's Swiss bank account. Most presidential candidates don't think it appropriate to bet that the U.S. dollar will lose value by speculating in Swiss Francs, which is basically the rationale offered by the trustee of Romney's "blind" trust for opening this account. What's more, if you really want just to speculate on foreign currencies, you don't need a Swiss bank account to do so.

"The Swiss bank account raises tax compliance questions, too.

"The account seems to have been closed early in 2010, but was the income in fact reported on earlier tax returns? Did the Romneys timely file the required disclosure forms to the Treasury Department (so-called FBAR reports)?

"The IRS announced in 2009 a partial tax amnesty for unreported foreign bank accounts, in light of the Justice Department's criminal investigations involving several Swiss banks. To date, some 34,500 Americans have taken advantage of such amnesty programs. Did the Romneys avail themselves of any of these amnesty programs? One hopes that such a suggestion is preposterous, but that is what disclosure is for -- to replace speculation with truth-telling to the American people.

"Second, Romney's $100 million IRA is remarkable in its size. Even under the most generous assumptions, Romney would have been restricted to annual contributions of $30,000 while he worked at Bain. How does this grow to $100 million?

"One possibility is that a truly mighty oak sprang up virtually overnight from relatively tiny annual acorns because of the unprecedented prescience of every one of Romney's investment choices.

"Another, which on its face is quite plausible, is that Romney stuffed far more into his retirement plans each year than the maximum allowed by law by claiming that the stock of the Bain company deals that the retirement plan acquired had only a nominal value. He presumably would have done so by relying on a special IRS 'safe harbor' rule relating to the taxation of a service partner's receipt of such interests, but that rule emphatically does not apply to an interest when sold to a retirement plan, which is supposed to be measured by its true fair market value.

"Third, the vast amounts in Romney's family trusts raise a parallel question: Did Romney report and pay gift tax on the funding of these trusts or did he claim similarly unreasonable valuations, which likewise would have exposed him to serious penalties if all the facts were known?

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Kathy never expected a career in radio as a talk show producer. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Kathy was completing her nursing degree when in 2001 - in an emergency - she was asked to fill in as the producer of Mike's program. Within a few (more...)
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