The only thing Mitt Romney can't hide anymore is that he's hiding something.
Unlike President Obama, and unlike Romney's own father when he ran for president, Romney is refusing to release many of his recent tax returns. What is it he's afraid to show us? That something in his returns will help voters finally see him for the candidate he is -- the candidate who would raid the poor and middle class to transfer wealth to the 1%?
Maybe it's that Romney's returns would tell us more about his involvement in Bain Capital's bankrupting of American companies and offshoring of American jobs -- contrary to his assertions that he wasn't there when all of that happened. Just yesterday the Boston Globe broke an explosive story indicating Romney was involved with Bain years after he claims he left. The returns could shed more light on Romney's questionable statements about his Bain departure.
Or Romney's returns could tell us more about he got his tax rate down to 14% -- well below that of most middle-class families. We already know Romney stashed millions in a Swiss bank account, and that he invested in shell corporations in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. His returns might help us learn more about other investments in offshore tax havens.
We could also get new information about how Romney stands to benefit from the policies he's proposing. Romney's hardly the only 1%er to take advantage of a tax code tilted in his direction. Warren Buffett famously paid a lower tax rate than his secretary. But Buffett wants to close the loophole that allows him to do so; Romney wants to keep it in place. A recent analysis found that Romney stands to reap a personal gain of $5 million if the tax policies he's pushing are implemented. Maybe his hidden tax returns show Romney would actually gain far more. That's something voters have a right to know.
In the 1960s, when Mitt Romney's father ran for president, he released 12 years of tax returns, proclaiming: "one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show." President Obama has released a decade of returns. But Romney has only released his 2010 return, with a promise to release 2011 when it's ready. So what is he hiding?
When Romney vied to become John McCain's running mate in 2008, and was considered by many to be a favorite to join the ticket, he provided the McCain campaign with 23 years of his returns. Call it coincidence, but McCain then passed over Romney and picked Sarah Palin instead. As Joe Trippi recently argued on FoxNews.com, there's no way in hell the Romney campaign would let one of his potential Veeps get away with forking over only one year's return during the vetting process.
Today, MoveOn members in swing states and across the country are visiting Romney campaign offices to demand he stop keeping the truth from voters. If you're on Twitter, you can join in via #ReleaseTheReturns. We're also having a little fun with Mitt by flying a 99airlines banner over his Boston headquarters. The banner compares the solitary return Mitt has released to his father's 12 and reads: "ROMNEY: 1/12 THE MAN HIS FATHER WAS."
Any way you cut it, Romney should release his tax returns so that Americans left, right, and center can see what he's all about.
A veil of secrecy about taxes should not conceal from voters the real choice they are making this election: the choice between a candidate running for President of the 1% versus a candidate for President of the United States. Mitt Romney, put your money where your mouth is and release your tax returns!
Image by Mark Howard