Mitt Romney finally sat down for an interview with the mainstream media (insert clapping here; this is a huge step for a Fox Republican). In his ABC World News interview with Diane Sawyer, Mitt took the opportunity to side step her questions about his refusal to release his tax returns and blamed Obama for his decision.
Mitt Romney isn’t going to turn over more than one year of tax returns (maybe two, but the second won’t be unveiled until weeks before the election) because… Obama.
It’s all Obama’s fault. Mitt claims that Obama wants to avoid discussing the Bush economy (that is also Obama’s fault, according to Mitt) and so Obama brought up Mitt’s tax returns for no good reason. Never mind that releasing tax returns is long-standing precedent of transparency; itself a tenet of our system of government. Heck, Mitt’s own father released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President, former President Bush released 17 years and Obama has released over a decade’s worth of returns…
Mitt doesn’t have to because… Obama!
Partial transcript courtesy of ABC (emphasis mine):
DIANE SAWYER: Moving on. President Obama threw down a kind of gauntlet to you over the weekend. And he said, “Release 12 years of your tax returns. I’m releasing them. Release 12 years. If you have nothing to hide why not release 12 years as your father did?”
MITT ROMNEY: Well, the president is going to try and do everything possible to divert from the attention being focused upon his record as president and the failure of his economic policies. So he’s going to try and make this campaign about the fact that I’ve been successful, that I’ve made a lot of money. So he wants to be able to get all the details on each year and how much money I made this year and that year. I’m not going to get into that.
I’m going to focus on getting America strong again. And we’ve released all the information required by law and then some. And both John Kerry and John McCain and– and President Obama– they released two years of r– of records. (Not true, Obama released over a decade worth of returns, but nice try MittRo). I’m happy to release two years of records– and that’s– plenty for people to understand how I paid my taxes and– the fact that I’ve been highly successful.
DIANE SAWYER: And John McCain said they gave him 23 years of tax returns when he was considering you for the vice presidency. If John McCain can get 23 should– for transparency’s sake the rest of the American public get 23 years?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, actually the American public has through legislation determined that we need a extraordinary dis– set of disclosure of financial records of people running for president and I have complied with all that and then in addition put out two more years of tax returns.
(One year, actually, and the extension filed this week.)
And exactly as John McCain and– and– John Kerry had, and– I know the Obama people want to get us to do something that will cause a lot of attention to be drawn to the fact that I’ve been successful. John McCain wasn’t worried about diverting from the issues of– of the– of the day, but I understand that the Democrats are going to try and do everything in their power to keep this election from being about the failure of President Obama to turn around our economy.
Ah, yes. It all makes sense now. Romney gave two years (but not really) and that is enough because of Obama. Yes, see, Obama expects Mitt to comply with the same rules as the rest of the candidates, but somehow Romney sees this as Obama wanting to distract the public with Romney’s success.
It’s not that Romney has anything to hide; it’s just that he doesn’t want you knowing all about his success because then mean Obama would make him talk about what it means to be the elite of the 1%. Also, you might get peeved when you saw how much money he made and how he pays a much lower percentage of taxes on his overall haul than you do, which would make you agree that the Buffett Rule would be cool, and that would be bad for Mitt.
Without Romney’s Republican opponents also demanding that Romney release his tax return for 2010, we might still know nothing about Romney’s tax rate or what he stands to gain personally by the tax policies he is proposing.
The American people would like to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns, just like any other candidate discloses theirs. We’d particularly like to see the years when he was governor and when he ran Bain Capital. But Mitt Romney thinks he’s above transparency. Notice how he tripped over the section where he explain his way out of the question?
“Well, actually the American public has through legislation determined that we need a extraordinary dis– set of disclosure of financial records of people running for president and I have complied with all that and then in addition put out two more years of tax returns.”
We have determined through legislation that we need extraordinary disclosure of financial records — in other words, this request is “extraordinary”, even though it is a precedent followed by even his own father. What is the big deal, if he has nothing to hide?
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called attention to that very question in a statement, “Mitt Romney’s defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question – what does he have to hide? Did he exploit loopholes in the tax code by keeping his investments offshore and is that why he’s protecting those loopholes now? Why did he open a Swiss bank account instead of an American bank account and establish a corporation in Bermuda instead of on our shores? Did he pay a lower income tax rate than the 13.9 percent he paid in 2010 and is that why he opposes the Buffett Rule to ensure millionaires don’t pay less taxes than middle-class families?”
Messina continued, “Governor Romney may try once again to play by his own set of rules, but Americans will hold him accountable for trying to hide his record.”
The Obama’s paid 20.5 percent of their gross adjusted income in taxes. The one year of returns Romney made available to the public (2010) showed he paid 13.9 percent in taxes, but also opened the door to more questions by listing a Swiss bank account and other overseas funds not listed on his previous financial disclosures.
Romney got in a few other odes to his precarious grasp on reality when he said Obama better start packing and Ann and Mitt claimed it was their “turn” and their “time” to be President.
Y’all need to stop asking Mitt to do the same things any other candidate, including George W Bush, has done. After all, do you KNOW who he is?
Don’t worry, he doesn’t either. You know whose fault it is that Mitt Romney doesn’t know who he is or what he stands for? Obama’s, of course.
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Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.