Romney’s new line of defense for not releasing the tax returns is that he is not a business. This is an odd line for a candidate who is running on his alleged business expertise — alleged because the records from the Salt Lake Olympics remain off-limits to the public, the hard drives from the Governor’s office were erased when he left office and he won’t release his tax returns. In order to claim business expertise, Romney would have to prove it by showing us how he did it, just as he demands that every supposition regarding his tax returns must be proven. Otherwise, he can hardly tell Harry Reid to stuff it if his own response continues to be “you don’t need the proof, just trust me.”
In an interview for Businessweek, Josh Tyrangiel put the question of the tax return releases into terms any investor could understand – before you invest, you demand the financials. No investor can deny the necessity of looking at a business’ financials, but to this, Romney claimed he is not a business (emphasis mine):
(Tyrangiel): Let’s frame the issue around your tax returns in a slightly different way. If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?
(Romney): I’m not a business. We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns.
So, corporations are people but people are clearly not corporations. A businessman runs on his business acumen but refuses to run like a business would run for office by releasing their financials.
Romney keeps repeating that he has given us two years, but in reality, he has given us one amended year, which reminds us all that he lied about his tax returns when running for governor and retroactively amended them to read according to his lie.
Romney did not release the value of his offshore accounts in countries like Ireland, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda on his single tax return.
Vanity Fair described the secrecy and weirdness of Mitt’s returns, “A full 55 pages in his 2010 return are devoted to reporting his transactions with foreign entities.” Romney says he has given us all of his financial disclosures regarding his investments, but he has been very selective in what he’s released.
Furthermore, his overseas investments and Cayman investments remain shrouded, in addition to which there are many legitimate questions regarding the allegedly “blind” trust he holds (this trust is run by his personal lawyer and invested in his son’s business, for example, lending a suggestion of not so blind management). In 1994, Mitt Romney said that a blind trust “was just a ruse.”
Another example is a secret Bermuda-based corporation that Romney shifted to a trust the day before becoming governor of Massachusetts. He then kept it off disclosure forms he was required to file in Massachusetts, but when he finally gave us his 2010 returns after much Republican primary pressure, it turned out that Ann and Mitt had full control of this corporation. Nicholas Shaxson of Vanity Fair detailed “but one example” (emphasis mine):
Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates.
Romney holds business assets in an individual retirement account invested in a Cayman Islands corporation, to the tune of between $20- $100 million. Of course, we don’t know for sure because Romney’s idea of a disclosure doesn’t tell us what assets he has in this account.
We haven’t seen his gift tax returns, how he handled the family trusts, or his IRA assets, which appear to have been grossly undervalued in order to grow to the current worth. Transparency for Romney then translates into one year of amended returns, which as his own father explained to us years ago, can be amended and therefor misleading.
An example, “A $3 million Swiss bank account appeared in the 2010 returns, then winked out of existence in 2011 after the trustee closed it, as if to remind us of George Romney’s warning that one or two tax returns can provide a misleading picture.”
The Vanity Fair expose explains that with this account, Mitt Romney bet against the US. That is just another reason why we need to see financials and tax returns from a presidential candidate.
It’s getting rather difficult to explain to Americans why Mitt Romney has all of this foreign money, having started Bain with money tied to Right wing death squads, but Mitt Romney and Republicans charge Barack Obama with not loving America.
Of course, Romney spox have denied that his Bain start-up money came from death squad money, but as the Huffington Post pointed out, no one with any knowledge of the area could believe that denial. Indeed:
By 1984, the media had thoroughly exposed connections between the death squads and the Salvadoran oligarchy, including the families that invested with Romney. The sitting U.S. ambassador to El Salvador charged that several families, including at least one that invested with Bain, were living in Miami and directly funding death squads.
Two years of returns is no better. That is why ten years has become the norm, because in ten years you can see patterns and also come to understand the candidate’s tax policy positions – is the candidate advocating for policy that would benefit himself? To what end? Is that policy really best for the country?
Mitt’s many dodges to giving us the tax returns and why it matters (replete with Mitt’s tell of the uncomfortably smug laugh):
Tax havens are estimated to cost the United States $100 billion a year. If Romney hasn’t paid all of the income tax due on the transference of his wealth, the American taxpayer makes up that difference. Romney has been dealing with shrouded money since he started Bain with money from El Salvador parked in money-laundering havens like Panama.
Does that seem fair?
Romney thinks he should have to disclose less than the Senate requires for confirmation to a cabinet or even a subcabinet post.
As for Romney’s assertion that he is not a business, look at the image above and tell me if your family money looks like that. Luxembourg and the Caymans?
Romney is obviously a business. Just as sure as corporations are people, Mitt Romney is in the business of getting wealthy, hiding money, increasing wealth, and transferring wealth while skimming as much away from the US government as he (legally, we are to take his word on this) can. And yet he won’t even show us the tax returns — but he knows he couldn’t get an investor without showing them the financials.
If Republicans really want to keep on trying to sell America as a business, they need to pony up and act the part. Wearing the suit and smug smile isn’t enough. If being President of America Corp is just like being a CEO or President of a mega successful corporation, then show us the financials. As any investor knows, only a fool buys into a company without reading their financials.
It looks like Mitt Romney is selling Americans fools gold for President.
Image: Obama campaign
Additional sources: http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/candlook.php?CID=N00000286
See Romney’s disclosures here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/95602925/Mitt-Romney-2012