Can I just point how absurd Harry Reid’s comments have been the last few days? He’s been saying that Romney has not paid any taxes for ten years. Okay, I don’t think anyone possibly believes this, but Reid claims to have “extremely credible sources.” Uh huh, sure you do, Harry. It’s very unlikely that Romney did not pay anything in taxes the past decade.
Here’s Reid’s full statement:
“There is a controversy because the Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, refuses to release his tax returns. As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
“Last weekend, Governor Romney promised that he would check his tax returns and let the American people know whether he ever paid a rate lower than 13.9 percent. One day later, his campaign raced to say he had no intention of putting out any further information.
“When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it’s his obligation to put up, and release several years’ worth of tax returns just like nominees of both parties have done for decades.
“It’s clear Romney is hiding something, and the American people deserve to know what it is. Whatever Romney’s hiding probably speaks volumes about how he would approach issues that directly impact middle-class families, like tax reform and the economy. When you are running for president, you should be an open book.
“I understand Romney is concerned that many people, Democrats and Republicans, have been calling on him to release his tax returns. He has so far refused. There is only one thing he can do to clear this up, and that’s release his tax returns.”
Yes, Mitt Romney should release his tax returns. But Reid is taking an outlandish position for calling on him to do so. Not to mention, the Democratic Senate Majority leader calling on Romney to release his returns isn’t going to surprise anyone. Reid’s hyperbole just further reduces the (small) potential persuasiveness of his comments.
James Downie had a bit of a different take on this than me:
I know Greg isn’t sure how this helps, but I think it’s a smart play from Reid: It keeps Bain in the headlines. And ask yourself this: If there’s nothing damaging in his returns, Romney could now, in one stroke, annihilate Harry Reid’s reputation in Washington. So why hasn’t he released them?
Well, I think Reid made a (very) calculated play here. Just because Romney has the ability to “annihilate Harry Reid’s reputation in Washington” doesn’t mean it changes any of the calculations Romney made about the impact releasing his tax returns would have on his presidential chances. If it was a bad play to release them before Reid spoke, it’s still a bad play now. Harry Reid knew Romney wouldn’t call him on it. As for keeping Bain in the headlines, I still think the hyperbolic nature of his comments will cause many people to immediately disregard them, but we can agree to disagree there.