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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

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Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Senator Reid, and Romney's Taxes

H. Reid, of Nevada, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, insists that the Republican candidate for President, M. Romney, didn't pay any Federal taxes for 10 years. Reid says his sources for this charge are quite reliable. Disregarding for a moment the extreme outrage that this has sparked in the Repubs, a few who are normally on the better side of things, such as Jon Stewart and Field Negro, also think this is a dumb move, probably reasoning that this failure to pay taxes for that long is basically impossible, and therefore it leaves Romney with a golden chance to make Reid, and by extension the Democrats, look very bad, by simply releasing his returns for those years at some time purely of his own choosing.

But the more I think about it, the more that Reid's ploy looks like a brilliant move in this election game that is now in progress.

This accusation is in the context of the fact that M. Romney, unlike B. Obama and also unlike all previous candidates of either party, absolutely refuses to release any more than the one year (2010) of his tax returns that he has already shown. Said to be "worth" a quarter of a billion dollars (as if he or anyone like him could be really worth even a small fraction of that much money in any sense at all), Romney's great wealth seems to be a sore point with him, and he says he won't release any more of his returns simply because of what might be concocted out of them.

Instead of pushing their candidate to go ahead and release those returns and so leave Reid with total egg on his face, regardless of the timing, as quite a few Republicans have already urged, other Repub leaders have responded by vilifying Reid up, down, and sideways, with Romney himself thinking he's scoring quite a few homespun points by telling Reid "to put up or shut up." Instead of Romney showing those returns, in which everybody is more interested than anything else, they want Reid to reveal his sources of information, presumably so that those informants can be whipped on the stocks forthwith. On this past Sunday's TV talk shows, these leaders, having obviously conferred beforehand and decided upon using one key derogatory shot, uniformly accused Reid of "lying."

That struck me as being a bad misuse of language, though it's been a long time since any Republican could be accused of wanting to use the language accurately. Instead they seem happy to want to twist and pervert it in any way possible. To say that Reid "lied" means to me, in a context like this, that he had right in front of him some documents showing that Romney had in fact paid those taxes, but for some reason (are you suggesting political?), he chose instead to tell the world just the opposite.

But how could that be? That is really the thing that couldn't be true here, because why would Reid have put himself at such risk of being sunk right there without a bubble, by Romney's release of those returns at whatever moment?

And from what surefire source would Reid have gotten that information that was burning holes in his hands but about which he prefered to fib big time? From the tax monsters, the Internal Revenue Service, the efficient and therefore widely dreaded IRS?

That's one of the best questions here, because nothing is being made of the role of the IRS in this matter. As a plain, ordinary citizen I would've thought that they would be the best ones, even more dependable than Romney himself, to know whether or not he filed any returns fora whole decade. Doesn't the IRS know all that stuff about everybody, even one-quarter-of-the-way billionaires?

And so, if they know for a fact that Romney paid those taxes, even given Reid's high position in government the IRS wouldn't be disposed to have his back, and he wouldn't have depended on them to have it anyway, if he had been lying. Nobody has that much power over the IRS, do they? They're almost like the CIA, aren't they? A fully independent, free-standing government within a government?

But Reid can't be accused of lying, for the simple reason that he never said he knew for a fact that Romney hadn't paid those taxes. He said instead that he had been told that by highly reliable sources. Thus Romney's highly placed defenders should have told their Sunday listeners instead that Reid had been "misinformed" about those taxes, and that would've been the real truth about the matter -- that is, if indeed he was misinformed. But that wouldn't have been nearly vitriolic enough for Republicans, and therefore they had to make the much less polite and badly askew accusation that he was "lying."

It would seem that if Romney has nothing to hide, nothing could be simpler and more effective than to release those returns right now. His continuing refusal to do so suggests beyond all doubt that it's not that simple.

Joshua Holland of Alternet published a highly convincing article on 10 things that those returns could show that account for Romney's refusal to show them. At least one of those reasons is so certain that it can't be refuted by the release of the returns no matter what's in them, and that is that the supremely haughty Romney absolutely can't stand the idea of "the Help," (as in the celebrated movie about the rainbow kitchenmaids in Mississippi days of yore and maybe still now). poring over what he considers to be his purely personal and stratospherically elevated financial affairs.

Meanwhile others say that Romney has an often-demonstrated fetish for extreme secrecy. They say that, after he finished his stint as Massacusetts governor, he bought new computers and had all his records of what he had done there put on them, and now those computers no longer seem to exist. He doesn't seem to have given researchers much of a helping hand either in the details of what happened in other phases of his career, such his missionary work in France, his running the Winter Olympics in 2000, and his days as CEO of the Bain Corporation.

Others believe that there's method to his madness, and that it's like a gigantic tug of war, and that at a certain strategic point, if he suddenly lets go of his end of the rope by releasing those returns, say about six weeks before Election Day, the still fiercely pulling Democrats, though they will in one sense have won the contest, in another sense they will suddenly be sent reeling helplessly backward by their own momentum and so fatally off the cliff.

But I think it much more likely that thereupon there will be so much interest in finally seeing what's in those long-sought tax returns that the tug of war will be promptly forgotten, and there will be something in them that won't be right, including at least some of the things that Holland mentioned, because the man who made those returns is so far from being a straight-up kind of guy, as even many Republicans seem to know, and therefore, regardless of what those returns show, they'll be going to the polls with many a spring-loaded clothespin gripping their noses.

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