You know the 47% comment must be polling abysmally when Romney is attempting to release some version of his tax returns as a political distraction.
Earlier today, the Romney campaign announced that they would be releasing Mitt’s 2011 tax returns and a prepared summary of the candidate’s 1990-2009 returns.
A few thoughts:
First, the fact that they’re releasing any new tax returns at all is a victory for the Obama camp. Romney HQ knows that they’ll get slammed for this no matter what comes out. Romney’s rates are well below what many folks magnitudes poorer than him pay as a percentage of their income and Obama for America won’t hold back to remind everyone of that for the next 45 days.
Second, the donation numbers make Romney look more like a scheming political candidate, which is not something he needs. As The New York Times pointed out, Romney took a smaller deduction on his taxes for charitable giving than he could have, leaving $1.75 million in deductions unclaimed.
Now, this could be because Romney felt the patriotic duty to pay more in taxes. Considering the rest of his tax returns, this is unlikely to be true. Instead, what many will soon realize is that Romney can claim those deductions against future taxes – meaning he can take those $1.75 million in deductions after the election. Why wait? Because it makes his obnoxiously low actual tax rate look somewhat higher during his presidential run. Smart politics? Absolutely. Will it play well with independents? Unlikely.
Third, the fact that Romney absolutely refuses to release any tax returns prior to 2009 leads many speculators to even more adamantly believe that what Mitt is so scared of revealing is the fact that he took advantage of the 2009 Tax Amnesty program. That program allowed those hiding money illegally in accounts abroad to claim that money and pay taxes on it without facing fees and potential criminal charges.
The Romney campaign is attempting to side-step this issue by extending their “summary” all the way back to 1990, but the fact remains that they won’t release Romney’s actual tax returns. Claiming his lowest rate was 13.66% is one thing, showing how we got there is quite the other.
Many questions still remain about Mr. Romney’s tax history. How deeply is Romney still tied into Bain investments? What offshore accounting gimmicks did he use before he was concerned about cleaning up his taxes for a presidential run? How did he get to his average tax rate – trick accounting or actually higher tax rates?
In the end, this release will probably have its intended effect of shifting the dialogue away from his 47% remark. Whether the shift helps or hurts the Romney campaign remains to be seen.
Click on Mitt Romney's full 2011 tax return below.