07/15/2012 08:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

BOTH SIDES NOW : Will Romney Produce Long-form Tax Returns From His Bain Years?

Based on Mitt Romney's statement to Fox News that "if you're responding you're losing," he's had a losing week. As the campaigns hurl charges of 'felony,' 'liar' and "outsourcer-in-chief" liberally around, the former governor has to fend off numerous media investigations documenting Cayman bank accounts and outsourcing to China. The author of No Apologies then demands an apology from a president who he said apologizes too much.

On Bush Tax Cuts. The week begins with Obama proposing tax hikes of four percentage points on the rich, which Eliot thinks is good economics because of the deficit and good politics in an era of inequality. Mary disparages that as "spurious and specious" since "tax rates don't create revenue, taxpayers do." She elaborates that when rates fell in the '20s, '60s and '80s, revenues rose; when asked about the '90s, she argues that factors other than Clinton's higher marginal rates were responsible for job growth.

But since rates on "job creators" are now historically low, Spitzer wonders why then is the economy so lousy? As the head now of a major residential real estate firm in NYC, he agrees with fellow businessman Warren Buffett who said that he's never made an investment based on tax rates. "You invest based on markets, not rates", says the BSN panelist.

On Caymans & China. The week ended with Mitt Romney backpedaling about overseas investments and outsourced jobs based on a slew of newspaper investigations -- Washington Post ("pioneer" in outsourcing), Vanity Fair, AP, Boston Globe, Mother Jones -- and on SEC documents reporting that he was the CEO, Chairman and President of Bain from 1999 to 2002 when much of the alleged outsourcing occurred.


Both commentators agree that a) Team Obama hit this issue hard to divert attention away from June's weak jobs numbers and b) a culprit is the global macro-economy where private equity guys move money around for a legal return, whether it's Swiss banks or Chinese manufacturers.

But politically and optically, Eliot thinks that Romney is getting an "indelible image" as an out-of-touch rich guy which may influence some swing white working class voters in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Mary doesn't flinch, concluding it's not an enduring problem since "Romney spent private funds legally while Obama is spending taxpayer money on green scams." The articles attacking him are full of innuendo based on the reality that "Romney was a "successful man." Also, she notes that some leading fact-checking sites have said that the accusations are false or exaggerated.

On Releasing Tax Returns. One way to answer or mitigate such criticism is for Romney to release tax returns for more than 2010 and 201. Won't he have to since George Romney disclosed 12 years of them in his own 1968 presidential bid and his son has already shared 23 years of tax filings with John McCain in the 2008 VP vetting process? What's good for VPOTUS should be good for POTUS.

Mary says that Romney won't and shouldn't release these returns -- there's no law requiring it and fathers don't set rules for sons. Eliot, however, though not believing that such filings would show anything illegal or unethical, thinks that disclosure is the only way to stop this "distraction" from further undermining Romney's candidacy. For now, his problem "is metastasizing." (Update: Post-show, Bill Kristol, George Will, Matthew Dowd, GOP Alabama Governor Robert Bentley argued that Romney had no choice but to release more returns.)

(Host: The assault on Romney's finances is now so bi-partisan, sustained and convincing that this coming week he will do something dramatic to try to change the subject; with the Condi card already played, watch for announcement of his VP pick or the release a few years of truncated returns to feed the beast... or more fancifully an earlier-than-planned October surprise like Barry's grades in high school. But something.)

On Governors Refusing Obamacare. The Roberts majority opinion held that states have the option of accepting or rejecting additional Medicaid Funds under Obamacare. While governors Perry, Jindal and Scott say they'll decline to do so, will they really in the end refuse 100 percent funding for three years, declining to 90 percent funding by 2019, to cover millions of residents? Former Governor Spitzer thinks they'll likely cave in since local hospitals agreed to cover more patients in the expectation they'll get more funding -- and "free riders" will have to be covered either with federal funds or with higher local taxes for charity care.

Mary sees this as another "redistributionist" plan. "Eliot, wouldn't you rather spend this money in your own state without sending it to Washington to be skimmed by bureaucrats?" But since Texas and Florida, for examples, have 25 percent and 21 percent of their populations uninsured, notes the Host, apparently state governors haven't and won't provide coverage on their own. And it surely is redistributionist, like other safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Remember how the phrase "Mission Accomplished" went from a triumph to derision? Now that "Obamacare" has been constitutionally upheld and polls show it gaining popularity, will it also do a 180 to end up regarded positively? Mary can't see it -- it's been a negative for two years, those who dislike it dislike it intensely and it won't provide better health care coverage. Eliot is not sure whether it can make a comeback by November but doesn't doubt that in 30 years "people will appreciate how Obama did something risky but great."

*Quick Takes: Football. Soda. Abortion. Finally, consensus: While each loves pro football, they agree with Tom Brady's father who said that today he wouldn't allow his son to play football because of the data correlating concussions and higher mortality rates; and they agree that while obesity is a national problem, banning 32-ounce super-sized soft drinks in movie theaters, as Mayor Bloomberg has proposed in New York City, is not a serious solution.

What about the state of Mississippi attempting to shut down its last abortion clinic? Mary thinks that it should since the law requiring attending doctors to be admitted to local hospitals is for the safety of those who go there. The Host wonders about making abortion clinics so safe that there are none. Eliot concludes that not safety but elimination was the intent of the Mississippi law. He supports the federal judge who stayed the closure since, whether one is pro-choice or pro-life, abortion is a constitutionally protected right under Roe v. Wade.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now, which is powered by the American Federation of Teachers.

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