By M. Ulric Killion
Photo Source: Sam Stein, Romney Won't Say Whether He Would Have Signed Lilly Ledbetter Act, Huffington Post, April 16, 2012; AP.
The saga of Willard Mitt Romney and his tax returns and financial disclosures continues. In the meanwhile, Willard is not helping to boost his image public image or public perceptions, as he continues to avoid, delay or possibly deny full routine disclosures that the public expects in presidential elections.
Earlier there was the controversy concerning Romney’s financial disclosure reports. As Stephanie Condon (CBS news) reported, he used an obscure legal loophole to provide a limited picture of his assets, which leaves it unclear whether his wealth is invested in controversial companies. While doing so, he also “declined to identify the underlying assets in 48 accounts with Bain Capital because they are covered by a confidentiality agreement with the company.”
For many, Romney’s disclosure reports present serious questions about the nature of his investments. In a larger context, for many his actions foster issues of ethics, law, and the level of transparency that should be required of politicians.
There is also the issue of Romney’s tax returns. Here again, Willard earlier offered a very limited amount of information regarding his holdings, which were only his 2010 tax return and tax estimates for 2011. Recently, he filed for an extension of time to file his 2011 tax returns, which lets us know that he may not be disclosing his tax returns in the very near future.
Marc Thiessen, a former White House speechwriter for President George W. Bush, (Washington Post), writes,
On taxes, it is simply inexplicable why the Romney campaign still cannot get a handle on an issue they should have seen coming years ago. Did they learn nothing from the tax-return debacle he went through during the South Carolina primary? Romney had a double-digit lead until he fumbled the tax issue in not one, but two, Republican debates. His evasive answers, and refusal to commit to releasing his returns, drew boos from the GOP crowd and helped Newt Gingrich win an upset victory.
Even Republicans are starting to ask: What could possibly be in his old tax returns that is worse than creating the impression he has something to hide?
In his article titled, How to Predict When Mitt Romney Will Release His Tax Returns, Chris Kelly makes, though seemingly obvious to many people, an interesting point about Willard and his money. Kelly writes, “To get on board with Mitt Romney, you have to hold two ideas in your head. 1) You should vote for him, because he's made a lot of money and 2) You must never, ever ask about his money.”
The problem is that Willard is making a poor case against himself in the domain of public opinion, because by now one would think that he would want to disclose his tax returns, and by that there is an implicit understanding of a sufficient number of years of his tax returns.
Nonetheless, and as Kelly also observed, “For reasons unknowable, for months now, Mitt Romney has been fighting against releasing his past tax returns. So it's not really surprising -- just pretty ballsy -- that he's filled for an extension on his 2011 taxes, and we may not see them before mid-October.”
Then more recently, there is the criticism of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who “ripped Mitt Romney for benefiting from the same tax loopholes as foreign despots.” By tax loopholes, Clyburn is also focusing on the issues of Romney’s Swiss bank accounts and offshore accounts.
Additionally, for those who are unaware, colloquially speaking, the term, despot, “has been applied pejoratively to a person, particularly a head of state or government, who abuses his power and authority to oppress his people, subjects or subordinates.”
In the analogy that Clyburn presents for our consideration, there are real life examples of depots. For instance, according to George B. N. Ayittey (Foreign Policy), Robert Mugabe of Zimbawe funneled off portions of public funds by using currency manipulation and offshore accounts. Ayittey also mentioned the example of Meles Zenawai of Ethiopia, who “stashed millions in foreign banks and acquired mansions in Maryland and London in his wife's name.”
The point that Clyburn is making, as mentioned in an earlier article, is that there is an inherent danger to his concealing, hiding, and using offshore bank accounts rather than, as Warren Buffet suggested, “good banks in the United States.”
As earlier mentioned, the problem for Romney is that he is not helping his public image by appearing to avoid routine disclosures that we have come to expect of politicians. Moreover, and contrary to what Willard Mitt Romney may be thinking, I suspect that many potential voters will find his practices and secrecies concerning his money as unforgiving. Here again, Romney leaves himself struggling with issues of likability, trust, and genuineness.
See also The Republican Conundrum
All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.