I don’t think Mitt really gets it…well, that’s the understatement of the century. Today, the Romney campaign released his 2011 tax returns. The returns show that he paid a 14.1 percent effective tax rate. The problem is that he manipulated his taxes, effectively overpaying so that his actual taxes conformed to his earlier claims about how much he paid. He did this by not claiming some of his charitable contributions. Before any conservatives try to say that this shows that he is a great guy…don’t be fooled. First, it is obviously a political ploy meant to keep him from looking like a fool for overstating how much he pays in taxes. Second, he has the ability to claim a deduction on the charitable donations he didn’t claim for 2011. He can claim this deduction after the election, making the current rate meaningless.
But what he really missed is that it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the dishonesty. He released a “summary” of his taxes dating back to 1990. Why a summary? Why not just publish the returns? Because there is something there to hide. That is the only possible reason he would allow the speculation and accusations to continue. What he is hiding is obviously still the hot topic of debate. Is it his tax shelters? His close ties to Bain investments? Questionable tax practices? We don’t know because he won’t do what every candidate has done since his father released 12 years of returns in 1968.
I think that Romney believes releasing a few numbers to the public will make us all forget that he is still very obviously hiding something. I also imagine that he’ll be very surprised over the next month and a half when he is still on the receiving end of continued attacks about his suspicious, and likely unethical, tax activities.