Republicans circle the wagons on Romney's tax returns
Mitt Romney continues to refuse to release any more of his tax returns, remaining curiously secretive and prompting more and more speculation as to why, and to what he's hiding.
And the issue isn't going away, not just because there's so much curiosity and speculation, which is all quite understandable given the sense that Romney is hiding all sorts of things and isn't being honest not just about this but about any number of things, but because of Harry Reid, who suggested last week, citing an anonymous source, that what Romney's hiding is the fact that he didn't pay any taxes for ten years.
Reid's claim is possibly baseless, but it's kept Romney's taxes in the spotlight, and Republicans, judging by the Sunday talk shows, are pissed.
As Politico reports, RNC Chair Reince Priebus called Reid a "dirty liar" yesterday, while Senator and McCain sidekick Lindsey Graham accused him of "lying," adding, "I think he's making things up."
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor and Romney Veepstakes member Bob McDonnell called it "a reckless and slanderous charge" and went on to attack Reid directly: "This is a guy who hasn't released his own returns and for three years, can't get a budget passed in the United States Senate." Last time I checked, Reid isn't running for president and can't get much done in the Senate because of relentless and all-out Republican obstructionism led by Leader of the Disloyal Opposition Mitch McConnell, but no matter. Did I mention Republicans are pissed?
Romney responsed to Reid's claim by challenging him to "put up or shut up." That, of course, misses the point. It doesn't really matter if Reid reveals his source. What matters are Romney's tax returns -- and whether he releases them or not. The ball isn't in Reid's court, it's in Romney's. And while I hope that Reid does indeed have a credible source, his point about Romney, responding to the "put up or shut up" line, hits the mark:
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.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.
Romney and his surrogates can try to make Reid the issue, and try to pin the blame on the White House (which Romney accused of being Reid's source), but this is all about Romney. Even prominent Republicans have called on him to come clean and release more of his returns. And until he does, there is every reason to wonder just what he's hiding.