Following two weeks of Democrats, Reporters and even many Republicans asking, “Why won’t Mitt Romney just release his taxes?”, the Romney camp is left with no choice (since actually releasing his taxes is out of the question) but to accuse the accusers of trying to distract you from the REAL issue: “President Obama’s failed economic record”. On Friday, the latest jobs report was released Friday showing that the economy created 172,000 new jobs last month. 9,000 public sector jobs were cut for a net of just 163,000 jobs. That’s nearly 100,000 more jobs than were created last month, and well over the 110,000 needed monthly just to keep up with population growth. It’s also completely and totally without ANY help from the GOP controlled Congress (yes, Democrats hold the Senate, but by making every vote of substance require 60 votes just to pass, the Senate minority has ensured that virtually no economic bills pass.) Despite the good jobs numbers… or more accurately BECAUSE of it, more long-term unemployed, suddenly more optimistic about their chances of finding a job, poured back into the labor market, pushing unemployment up from 8.2% to 8.3%. Well, actually, that’s rounded up from “8.254%”. But I’m not here to nit-pick a tenth of a point. Republicans are in full-stop panic mode, unable to explain why Romney won’t just release his taxes and prove that all his critics (at the very least) don’t know what they’re talking about or (at best) are flat-out “liars”. As Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz so simply put it on yesterday’s Face the Nation, “Romney could shut everybody up in ten seconds by just releasing the 23-years worth of returns he gave John McCain, or even 12 years like his father did.” I mean, how sweet would it be if you’re one of Romney’s defenders, to prove all his critics dead wrong and expose them all as “liars” if Mitt would simply just release his tax returns? But they can’t because he won’t. He can’t. Which just leaves them with three pathetic defenses that aren’t fooling anyone: 1) ”If he releases 10, they’ll want 12.” 2) ”He paid his taxes, trust us.” and 3) ”Democrats are just trying to distract you from Obama’s failed economy.” None of those arguments hold water. Here’s why:
Taking them in order, 1) President Obama has released 11 years of returns. Romney could release the same number and no one could ask for more without looking as hypocritical as Romney. Even better, he could one-up Obama by releasing twelve years like his father did, then turn the tables on Obama and ask, “Why did he stop at 11?” If people are always going to “ask for more”, why not have Obama be the one they’re asking?
2) “He paid his taxes, trust us.” The Romney camp (and the media) have repeatedly played the clip of an indignant Romney responding to Harry Reid’s accusations that “he [Romney] hasn’t paid ANY taxes in ten years!”, saying it’s “an outright lie” that he hasn’t paid ANY taxes. “I’ve paid a lot in taxes!”, insists Romney, careful not to differentiate “state & local” taxes (for which there are no exemptions) from “Federal Income” taxes… which is what Reid meant. RNC Chairman Reince Prebus (“RNC-PR-BS” with vowels removed) called Harry Reid “a dirty liar” and a “hypocrite” for not releasing his own taxes on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday because: “We know just from the [one] return Romney did release  that he paid $3-Million dollars in taxes”. Of course, that’s his taxes just for the one year he WANTED us to see, after he knew he’d be running for president again (Romney may have done the same in 2007, but since he failed to win the nomination, he never reached the point where he felt he had to release his taxes), where he didn’t take advantage of every loophole known to man, pulled some money out of a few overseas tax shelters, and gave big to “charity” (ie: “The Mormon Church”), and yet STILL paid less than the 15% he’d pay if he earned all of his money just off Capital Gains.
On last Friday’s Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel documented all the times Romney himself pulled a ”Harry Reid”, demanding others to release THEIR taxes while refusing to release his own:
In his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy, Romney demanded Kennedy release his taxes even though Mitt had not released his own. When Romney was asked about this apparent inconsistency, he said, “I will when Ted does.” Kennedy never released his returns, so neither did Mitt.
Then in his 2002 bid for Governor, even though his Democratic opponent Shannon O’Brien had released five years of her own taxes, Romney pointed out that her husband had not released his taxes. Romney’s then (and now) campaign manager Eric ”Etch-a-Sketch” Fehrnstrom even asked, “What is she trying to hide?”, when it was pointed out at the debate that Romney himself had not released his taxes, he brought up Kennedy again, saying Kennedy refused to release his taxes on “privacy” grounds, “He was right and I was wrong” (so O’Brien’s husband didn’t have that same privacy right?), and again repeated his challenge that if Kennedy… his opponent from eight years before… were to release his taxes, then he would. Neither ever did.
Romney responded to Reid by criticizing his “anonymous source”, saying Reid should “put up or shut up”. Of course, that would settle nothing because the Romney Camp would simply just call the source a liar anyway. No, the simplest solution… the one that would prove Reid wrong without question… would be for Romney to just release his returns. “He could do that in ten seconds”, said Wasserman-Schultz on Sunday. And what great incentive: expose Reid as a ”liar” making false claims based upon a rumor from an untrustworthy source. No one would ever trust Reid again. That’s just too sweet a deal to pass up… if it were a lie. But the fact Mitt won’t do that only seems to suggest Harry is right. Whatever the case may be, George Will was right when he surmised that, “Whatever is in those returns has to be worse than all the rumors and negative press he’s receiving over them or he’d just release them.” But he won’t. He can’t.
(ADDENDUM: Someone pointed out recently that John McCain has seen Romney’s tax returns, yet has not rushed to Romney’s defense or called Harry Reid a “liar”.)
Two weeks ago, I surmised myself that when we find out Romney paid “No taxes”, will anyone remember all the Right-Wing outrage last year over a report claiming “[almost] half of all Americans paid no [Federal Income] taxes last year”? Republican Strategist Ed Rollins on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday pointed out that, “the top 20% pay 94% of all incomes taxes in this country.” (Rollins didn’t bother to point out that that’s because they also control 94% of all the wealth). Wonder what Rollins and all those Republicans defending Romney will have to say when we find out Romney is one of those people who didn’t pay any Income Taxes either? Kiss another Romney defense down the toilet if he releases his returns.
But primarily, #3) the idea Democrats are talking about Romney’s taxes because they’re “trying to change the subject” from Obama’s economic record, is just silly. This, after a great jobs reports that shows more people have rejoined the workforce, if not working then optimistic about their chances now of finding a job. Republicans have been desperately running around this past week telling everyone that the President “can’t run on his [economic] record” because he hasn’t been able to turn the economy around. Really? Let’s look at the facts:
In October of 2009, nine months into his presidency and the end of the last Bush Budget, unemployment peaked at 10.0%. By April of this year, unemployment had fallen to 8.1%… that’s a decline of nearly TWO FULL POINTS in just over a year-and-a-half. And without a lick of help from the GOP Controlled Congress. That’s pretty incredible. I went back and checked. The last time unemployment fell that far that quickly was under St. Ronnie, when unemployment fell from 10.8% in the middle of his first term to 8.8% ten months later following a public-sector firing freeze and the largest tax hike of the past 50 years. And Reagan didn’t have anywhere’s NEAR as deep a hole to climb out of as President Obama did.
As I said repeatedly and wrote about one month ago, the GOP desperately needs you to forget that the last election wasn’t 2008. It was 2010, following a Republican landslide where they promised that if you put them in charge, they’d “focus like a laser” on “jobs, jobs, jobs”. And now, 19 months later, with unemployment “stuck above 8-percent”, they say you need to “vote Republican” and put THEM back in charge because President Obama’s policies have failed. “It’s all his fault! Don’t blame us! Blame the guy that blames everyone but himself!”
Sorry Republicans, but an economy that’s growing despite unprecedented GOP obstruction, unemployment falling nearly two full points in just under a year-and-a-half, you should be thrilled this president isn’t out there reminding everyone what miserable failures this do nothing Congress has been thus far. This is more YOUR economy, GOP, than it’s President Obama’s. If I were him, I’d be reminding everyone of these facts day & night between now and the election. #JobsJobsJobs.
ADDENDUM: This exchange took place last Sunday between former PA Gov Ed Rendell and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, putting to rest the nonsense Talking Point that President Obama has been avoiding talking about the economy. I didn’t have a clip or link at the time. Here it is now:
Rendell does push back on the idea that Obama is not talking about the economy, but sadly, he allows Diaz to get away with a slew of other ridiculous Right-Wing Talking Points. Most notably, the claim, “Gas is nearly twice as expensive now as the day Obama took office.” Before Bush, gas had NEVER been above $2/gal before. And by July of his last year, it was up over $4/gal. Yes, the price of gas in January of ’09 was almost half what it is now, but that’s only because THE ECONOMY COLLAPSED after the price of gas TRIPPLED under Bush. Is THAT their prescription for “economic recovery”? To attack President Obama on “gas prices” is the most disingenuous Talking Point there is (just above growth of the Debt/Deficit), and letting them get away with it is unforgivable.
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