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Look, Romney's Failure To Disclose Is a Disqualifier

letsgetitdone's picture

For me this is simple. We have a giant problem in this country. It's the elephant in the room! We're a Democracy on the edge. We're in great danger of transitioning to a plutocracy: a society, economy and polity controlled by the rich.

Corporations and rich Americans buy elections, by flooding the air waves with ads that are largely lies or distortions. They buy elections by flooding the coffers of candidates with contributions on the tacit understanding that these contributions will buy them access or even obesiance to the interests of the contributors. They buy the marketplace of ideas by funding think tanks, periodicals, newspapers and TV and cable stations to ensure that the public is bathed in propaganda. They manipulate the vote by buying State legislators and influencing them to pass voter suppression bills disguised as anti-voter fraud laws. They influence politics by running for the highest offices themselves openly promising to legislate policies that will net them additional millions of dollars. They commit control frauds in the banking system and in running big businesses, costing millions of homeowners their homes and their dreams. They manipulate interest rates all over the world costing borrowers hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions of dollars. They protect themselves from punishment and enforcement of the rule of law by using their political connections to prevent investigations, indictments, and convictions. They influence pubic policy to ensure that Federal policies will maintain high unemployment. They influence it to prevent passage of Medicare for All, against the will of the majority of Americans and condemning many, many thousands to dying quickly after they get ill. And finally, when they make errors in their own business affairs they influence the Federal government to practice lemon socialism by bailing them out, all the while insisting that the Government must avoid the moral hazard of bailing out people who work for a living.

This transition from democracy to plutocracy is the broader context of our times and of the current Presidential campaign. Now comes Mitt Romney, a very rich man, who became so rich by engaging in business activities whose ethics are at best questionable, and, at worst, disloyal to the broader interests of almost all American employees of whatever class, and he says to us, I largely refuse to disclose my tax returns to you, the American public, because I don't think it would be good for me to give the Press and yourselves a chance to evaluate them and draw your own conclusions about my business and political activities based on what they reveal.

Nevertheless, I still want you to trust me to be a President who will represent you and will act in your interest rather than in the interests of the very, very rich people like me and the large corporations and financial interests I have been so closely connected with for my whole life. That is, I don't trust you to evaluate me fairly; but I still ask that you trust me to act in your interest and be your President for at least four years, during this critical time of possible transition from a democracy to a plutocracy.

I can be trusted to see to it that we do not complete this transition, and that when my presidency is finished you will still have your democracy, not only more prosperous than it is today; but also more free and more democratic.

Do you believe that Mitt Romney can be trusted to deliver on such a promise or not? I don't believe it. There are many reasons why I don't.

A big reason why is that he won't trust we, the people, to see and evaluate those tax returns. He is already "dissing" us.

He is already saying through his actions that he doesn't believe in democracy; that he doesn't believe in the good sense and fairness of the American people, and that as President he will keep anything from us that he can, as long as he believes that we cannot be trusted to evaluate that information in a way that is good for him.

So, that's one reason why Mitt's refusal to release his tax returns is a disqualifier for the presidency. But there is another reason, as well.

Over many years now, transparency in the economic life of the presidential candidates of both major parties is something we've required of people running for president. We've come to believe that before we vote for a person we have to know what economic interests he is connected to and beholden to, so we can tell which he is likely to favor in his presidency. Previous presidential candidates, most notably George Romney, have recognized the public's right to know about the economic life of presidential candidates, and he acted to make himself an open book in this respect. Since then, other Presidential candidates have followed his example.

Now, what happens if the American people let Mitt Romney off the hook on his tax returns? What happens if we let him deny our right to know what the economic interests of a major party presidential candidate have been in the past and who his major business interactions have been with?

Then Mitt will have succeeded in establishing a precedent denying this right to know, and every future presidential candidate will follow his lead, knowing that there is no reason to give up his/her own economic privacy for the privilege of serving the American people in the nation's highest office.

Forever after, we will never be able to force candidates to reveal the details of their economic life to see whether they are in economic collaboration and collusion with criminals, foreign governments, foreign agents, unsavory domestic economic interests, and corporations and people, who have demonstrably acted in such a way as to do harm to the American people. Forever, after we will have to tolerate allowing candidates to invent fictitious details about their economic lives with very little ability to check on these details. Forever after, we will have no option but to trust what candidates say to us about what they've done in their business lives before they've run for President.

So, setting this precedent is perhaps the most important reason for disqualifying Mitt Romney as a candidate for President. That is, he is not just asking us to trust him. He is also asking us to trust everyone after him, and to proceed into that good plutocratic night without even the freedom to evaluate whether a presidential candidate, based on his/her economic record, is likely to lead us there or not.

Haven't we had enough of lies and manipulations from our presidents and other officeholders? Haven't we had enough of sell-outs to powerful and illicit interests, in recent decades increasingly betraying the interests of American democracy?

I think we have. And that's why I believe that a refusal to release tax returns that may be of interest to the American people, coupled with a plea to “trust me” and an implicit plea to “trust everyone after me,” must be seen as a disqualifier making Mitt Romney and anyone else who engages in such shenanigans unfit for the presidency.

If Mitt Romney wants to continue to run for the presidency, then he should stop disrespecting the people whose votes he seeks. He should reveal every tax return to the public that he previously revealed to John McCain's campaign. If the second highest office in the land was worth that price to him, then the highest office demands at least as much transparency.

If he doesn't trust us enough to reveal those tax returns, then I believe that every American, regardless of political persuasion, should vote against him in November, because there is a minimum we must insist upon from every candidate for public office including the presidency. And that minimum is respect for we, the people, as the ultimate sovereigns of this nation, whose free, and therefore unmanipulated and uncoerced, consent must be sought and gained for someone to hold public office!

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Submitted by Hugh on

I think Romney's history of buying up companies, gutting them, firing their employees, loading them up with debt, and then selling them off already disqualifies him, just as Obama's history of being a servant of Wall Street, multiplying wars aboard, and murdering US citizens without charge or due process also disqualifies him for office.

The simple truth is that the top echelons of our elites not only should not be enjoying wealth and privilege they should be gracing a cell in America's overbuilt prison system.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But I wanted to address the current fuss, from a perspective I haven't seen others use. Soon enough, I'll be back to talking about the things Obama's done.

Dario's picture
Submitted by Dario on

Being rich doesn't determine how good or bad a president will be. Clinton was middle class, but he did a very good job. Reagan too, was middle class. He put us in the wrong "new trajectory". FDR, a rich man, put us in the right trajectory.

The tax return issue is an attack to stop voters from asking about the coming spending cuts. It will happen whether Obama or Romney is elected. It's what Wall Street wants, nay, demanding it.

The past tax returns from Romney will confirm the same thing: Romney is rich and pays tax rates that are lower than many working people who live from pay check to pay check. But there's nothing illegal about that. The IRS audits tax returns that are suspect. And let's not forget the codes were written by the two political parties in congress.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

The issue is letting all politicians from here on out to lie to us about what's in their tax returns because we're not requiring them to disclose.

Dario's picture
Submitted by Dario on

I have no problem attacking a candidate with truth, but I do have a problem with people assuming criminality with no support whatsoever. Not disclosing tax returns is not wrong and it's not a crime. It's a choice a candidate makes, and every voter should decide what that means. For me, because I know enough about taxes, I know it doesn't mean anything. I'm satisfied that Romney makes tons of money and pays a low tax rate. A bank that's about to give out a loan can ask for more than one year to see the earning potential of the borrower. That makes sense. But Romney's earnings are already so high that it won't make a difference to me if in prior years he earned less or more. The tax rate he paid, is low because his income is from investments (unearned). By law, the tax rate for investments is 15% (Bush tax cut rate) Is that too low? I think so. Congress is responsible for passing the law and G.W.B. signed it. The tax would have increased to 18%-20% on 1/1/2011, but Obama and the lame duck Democratic congress extended the Bush tax cuts after the 2010 elections. Blaming Romney is hypocrisy. Is he supposed to use the wrong tax rate?

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

(despite the comment above) nor is it “disrespecting”—the issue (or one of them) is closer to what lambert says below: “disclosure would make it much easier to talk about what the class of all rich guys do.”

In fact, I’d surmise that Mr Romney has made his decision not to disclose more based on the legality of his tax arrangements than on any illegal actions. He doesn’t want to address the issues raised by the low tax rate on capital gains, offshore investments, and other tax policies that favor the super-rich.

Is he supposed to have used the wrong tax rate? No, of course not. But it’s better for a Presidential candidate to be transparent about his financial dealings and, if he has availed himself of the tax advantages open to him—as we suppose he has—to give some account of how he views those tax advantages, rather than hide behind a veil of nondisclosure.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I've observed his unethical behavior in business over may years. I've also observed the lies he tells in his political campaign. So I'm inferring that he's likely to have lied on his tax returns. Why wouldn't he? The IRS may or may not catch it. Even if they do catch it, they'd probably negotiate about it. He's lawyered up. His lawyers probably cost less than he would pay if just paid everything he really owed. He also can refuse to disclose his tax return. Finally, there are plenty who will say that you can't draw conclusions about whether he lied or not without seeing his returns.

Well, yes I can draw conclusions. I'm not in a court of law and he's not in trial. But I have a message for anyone who believes it's not likely he lied on his tax returns and that message is: "I got a nice big bridge to sell you."

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

And it is relevant to his candidacy for us to know whether he did or not. What are the chances that Romney was lying on his tax returns. I'd say very, very good. He lies without compunction every day he's campaigning. Why wouldn't he lie about taxes?

katiebird's picture
Submitted by katiebird on

Romney's taxes, Obama's drones.

There are more than enough disqualifiers to make both candidates unelectable. The fact that each of them will get their party's nominations (note that they are NOT actually the official nominees at this point) makes it clear that both parties are a sham.

They are not actually allowing for a true vetting process.

As voters, we should be insisting (while there is still a little time) for a choice. That delegates be released from their pledges. That nominations be open on the floor of the conventions. And that we get a do-over. New candidates from each party.

I know, not gonna happen. Still, a girl's gotta try.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But a good start on this is for the idea that Romney is unfit for office because he won't release these returns is a good start. If that could go viral, then maybe the Rs would open things up rather than march off the cliff with him.

mtngun's picture
Submitted by mtngun on

I'd like to see Obama's academic records.

I'd like to know more about what he did at the CIA front company, BIC.

I'd like to know more about Obama's involvement with shady real estate deals in Chicago.

I think Obama has more to hide than Romney.

But I'm not going to vote for either SOB !!!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I'm not asking people to vote for Obama, just to disqualify Romney until he gives up those 'effin returns. Once he does, that's certainly going to pay in the economy and jobs.

lizpolaris's picture
Submitted by lizpolaris on

Someone told me he's been beating his wife for the last 10 years. But my source is confidential and I'm sure it's a fact. Nancy Pelosi says it's a fact too because I told her what someone told me, without my telling her the source of my information either.

Can we just admit that Romney is rich, plays the rules to his advantage like every other rich person in the US and move on? There's a lot bigger shit to discuss. Like what damage would Romney's actual stated positions do to the country? Or not? How do they differ from what Obama has done (not what Obama says he's going to do), if at all?

Ditto Katiebird and mtngun regarding Obama's opaqueness about his past (that means total lack of transparency, again contrary to his campaign theme), his deceptions in his autobiography, and oh yah, his sucky record as president.

tom allen's picture
Submitted by tom allen on

Big shiny thing is shiny. Big shiny thing is big. Ooooh, look at the shiny!

Pay no attention to unemployment. Pay no attention to the wars, overt and covert. Pay no attention to the ever-growing security state. Pay no attention to crooked bankers and financiers.

Some say big shiny thing is shiny.* Some say big shiny thing is dull. In November you get to vote on the big shiny thing. Hooray!

*Go to Daily Kos NOW for 24/7 coverage of the big shiny. Romney is dumb. Obama is smart. Obama is winning horse race. Ha ha ha! Boy, Romney sure is dumb!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But there's also the democracy issue. That's not a big shiny. It's real. Voter suppression, the rich buying the elections, and also the right Romney is claiming not to disclose. These are all real. Most of the time I write about the economy, and very frequently, I write about how to solve the jobs problem. But this is an issue too.

Dario's picture
Submitted by Dario on

You want to see a candidate's tax return for several years. That's your prerogative. I don't want or need to see Romney's tax returns. And I don't care how much money he made and what tax rate are in the returns. I would much rather have the IRS issue a statement that it has reviewed and accepts as submitted the candidate's tax return for the past 7 years (that's all a person is supposed to keep). I do want to know from the IRS if his returns are in full compliance with the law.

Submitted by lambert on

... what rich guys do. Neither campaign can focus on what the class of rich guys does, so it becomes about Romney the personality, which is trivializing and deceptive. So I sympathize with the "bright shiny object" classification, because it is a bright shiny object.

On the other hand, disclosure would make it much easier to talk about what the class of all rich guys do.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

But rules are important. Until now no one's questioned that if they run, then they need to disclose. Romney's doing it! That's a big issue for me; and yes it does disqualify him on grounds anyone can understand. We need to force him to uncover those taxes; then it will be much easier to talk about his stated positions most of which relate to his desire for he and his cronies to get wealthier, while the rest of us sink into quasi-slavery.

Submitted by lambert on


Adding, and to be fair, yes, this is a new and better way of framing the issue.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

yeah, they are! Then we could elect Jill Stein!

Submitted by lambert on

Since my choice is between a guarantee that the Wurlitzer will keep playing, and a chance that some day it won't, I'm going to think positive and take the chance.