For a party that prides itself on representing big business, Republicans' last two leaders seem to have had little business acumen when it comes close to home.
Former Governor Mitt Romney does not know where his investments are. Former presidential candidate Senator John McCain did not know how many houses he owned.
Romney's responses to questions about his 'unusual' (for a presidential wannabe) financial behavior are rather curious. On the one hand, he claims with all righteousness that he pays all his U.S. taxes "as appropriate" and that everything is legal and proper. On the other hand, he alleges he knows nothing about his investments at all.
How, exactly, is Romney so certain that he pays all his U.S. taxes if he does not even know where his funds are located? For that matter, how can he not know where they are located if he signs his tax returns that detail all of his holdings?
And what does the qualifier "as appropriate" mean?
Romney's trusts may, indeed, be "blind." But, they are certainly not deaf.
Romney's Swiss bank account, closed in 2010, raises troubling questions. Had this been the only overseas account he had, one might have concluded that the trustee, Romney's personal lawyer, had some inkling that Romney might run for president, and that a Swiss bank account might not be the greatest idea.
But having other secret accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, also very well-known tax dodges, is no great shakes for a presidential candidate either. So, why did they just close the Swiss account?
Under President Obama, the stock market has grown by more than 50%, and profits for many firms are at all-time highs, yet he is constantly vilified by those who have prospered. Although he has taken a few swipes at Wall Street behavior, so did President George W. Bush, yet they still love him despite the economic collapse.
One reason that Wall Street does not show the president much love is that his administration and Senator Carl Levin have successfully pressed Switzerland to open its secretive banking. It would not be surprising if many of the "vilifiers" were those who can no longer hide their funds in a numbered (no-name) account in Switzerland.
President George W. Bush, on the other hand, served them well. President Clinton was close to concluding an international agreement to prevent tax havens from hiding income and wealth. When the Supreme Court installed Bush as president, he withdrew the US from that agreement.
Thanks to Bush, his wealthy friends were able to enjoy another nine years of hiding their income and forcing the rest of us to make up what they were hiding.
Many of those accounts, and the income from them, are now subject to U.S. taxation. Those who had hidden, undeclared accounts first were given until October 15, 2010, to reveal their accounts' existence, pay the taxes they owed and a modest penalty, but are not subject to criminal prosecution.
That is, they received an amnesty.
If Romney's tax returns revealed that he were one of those who received amnesty, he could still properly claim that "all taxes were paid, and that he complied with U.S. laws" on the basis of his not having been charged with a crime after he revealed his prior wrongdoing.
But, if it ever became known that he received amnesty, the American people would utterly reject him for two reasons: amnesty means he had been breaking the law for many years and putting extra tax burdens on honest Americans and that he was accorded special treatment only the wealthy receive.
Even the Kochs could not save his hide. It would be as if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had not run in 2008, John Edwards had thus won the primaries and then his Rielle affair became public.
It is very clear that Romney is willing to lose rather than make several years of his tax returns public. One can only wonder how the Republicans -- who do not much like Romney anyhow -- feel about him putting himself in front of the interests of the party.
That raises a provocative question for Republicans.
No one, except the Romney family, his trustee and the IRS, knows whether Romney received amnesty. Are Republicans willing to risk that enterprising investigative reporters or WikiLeaks, which appears be able to get almost anything, may discover this prior to the election, dooming not only his candidacy but, likely, taking the party down with him?
Or are they just stuck with him, no matter what happens?
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