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Lisa Wexler

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Does Mitt Romney Want to Be President?

Posted: 07/11/2012 2:04 pm

You don't have to be a professional psychiatrist to recognize that Mitt Romney's refusal to fully disclose his finances and remove his money from offshore tax havens represent a classic case of self-sabotage. It's obvious to me that, deep down, the man does not want to be President.

Look at the evidence: As opposed to events out of a single politician's control, like the European debt crisis and the unemployment rate, Mitt's problems are problems of his own making! Mitt could resolve the doubts about his patriotism and finances with the snap of his finger. With one telephone call to his accountants, he could repatriate all of his money to a U.S. bank, disclose his tax returns for the last few years, and answer any lingering questions about his money. Yet he refuses to. It took goading by Newt Gingrich to even get Mitt to give us his 2010 return and a draft of 2011, documents which raise more questions than they answer.

If I were Mitt's shrink, here's how I imagine the conversation would go:

"So, I understand you want to be President."
"Yes, I do."
"For how long have you wanted this?"
"At least a dozen years, maybe longer".
"It sounds like you really want to win, like you've been working on this goal for a long time."
"I really, really, really want to win."
"You know that the campaign is going to demand to know everything about you, including where you got all your money from, how you spent it, and who you pay taxes to".
"Hmmm."
"I sense some hesitation here Mitt".
"Hmmm." Squirm.
"Mitt, are you prepared to let the public know everything about you? Even about all your money?"
"I don't see why they have to."
"Mitt, I'm not arguing the why, I'm telling you what will happen." (in the shrink world, we call this a Reality Check)
"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."
"Mitt, what's your problem? It looks like you have something to hide. It looks bad."
"I just don't think it's anybody's business. Besides, if I lose, I'll have to put all that money offshore again after the election. It's not worth all that aggravation."
"Mitt, you realize that you are creating an issue that might make you lose, and you said you really, really, really wanted to win. Maybe you don't want it as much as you say you do."
"Hmmm. I'll think about it. Let me ask Ann."

This issue of offshore accounts is not a made-up issue created merely to attack Mitt Romney. On the contrary, the way I see it, there are only four reasons to move your money offshore. None of them befit a person who seeks to be President of the United States:

1. You are a criminal and you need to get the money out of the country.

2. You seek to avoid paying should a judgment be found against you. You are betting the long arm of the law won't reach to the Grand Caymans.

3. You want to pay less taxes than you would have to pay if the money stayed here.

4. You fundamentally distrust the strength of the American economy. In case of economic Armageddon, you want to make sure your money is in a different currency and in a different country.

No one accuses Mitt Romney of using offshore tax havens to avoid criminal conduct, but avoiding the possibility of having to pay out legal judgments is the cautious man's approach to life. A veteran of big business understands just how damaging one lawsuit can be. It may be perfectly legal to plan to avoid judgments against you, but it's not moral. It does not befit a President.

Without doubt, Mitt Romney placed money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Notice that the money was not placed in Germany or France, but rather in three notable tax havens, sophisticated pockets of secret wealth, hidden behind trusts and a spider web of interlocking corporate interests. Just google them yourself and discover the advantages they offer, including drastically lower corporate and transactional tax rates. If you want to be President, you should not be avoiding US taxes, corporate or otherwise. You should pay the same rates as everybody else.

People also place their money offshore to hedge against catastrophe, to insure themselves against a failing U.S. dollar and economy. This is perhaps the most unpatriotic reason of all to have your money offshore. How can you expect to lead this great nation unless you believe in it, with every fiber of your being and bank account?

In the case of Mitt Romney, we are not talking about a person who has one small account overseas. We are talking about a financial tycoon who made a business decision to put millions of dollars to work to benefit countries other than ours. In Mitt's 2010 tax return, the only complete tax return he has submitted, 55 pages of the return were devoted to offshore assets. Millions are held in Switzerland, the Grand Cayman Islands and Bermuda. A three million dollar foreign account appears in one year and disappears the next, in the 2011 "draft" return. We honestly do not know exactly how much money is held offshore. It could be 20 million. It could be 100 million. The intentional opacity of Mitt Romney's finances makes it impossible to know for certain.

Who benefits from the capital and fees that flow to these nations? Not us. Not our cities, our schools, our roads or our citizens. Not our tellers, accountants, financial wizards or lawyers. Those millions are working night and day to make other countries richer, while we are suffering through the greatest recession most of us have ever lived through.

Does this behavior sound patriotic to you? Does this represent a portrait of a person you would have lead you into battle, with heart and soul? Not to me, it doesn't. The offshore accounts tell me that Mitt Romney is a cautious and selfish man, one who put his own small economic interests ahead of the larger economic interests of this country. His reluctance to disclose, and the knowledge that he himself could have avoided this issue YEARS ago by putting his money back into the U.S. economy, tells me, in poker parlance, that Mitt is not "All In" to this race to the White House. Despite his public pleas for money and votes, Mitt is sabotaging his own chance to win, having created and perpetuated a good reason not to vote for him.

Every president comes to the office with human flaws. But to lead this greatest nation in the world, you need to be All In, in every possible way, with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, and even ALL your money, contributing whatever you can to make this nation great. Mitt Romney, a/ka/, the "Self Saboteur", is clearly not All In. And until he is, he doesn't deserve my vote.

 

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