Good afternoon: It’s Sunday, August 5, 2012, and Mitt Romney has still not released more than two-years’ worth of tax returns. Why is that? Only Mitt and Rafalca know for sure. The rest of us poor souls must continue to sit here and speculate, potentially forever. As you are perhaps aware, Harry Reid has floated one improbable explanation for the secrecy surrounding the documents, which is that Romney did not pay taxes for a decade. The candidate has, of course, denied this, but Reid keeps pushing back, forcing Romney’s surrogates to attack him and thereby ensuring that the story — and the general tax return theme — remain in the news.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus got particularly feisty on ABC’s This Week, calling Reid a “dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself, complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street.” Senator Lindsey Graham called Reid’s accusations “out of bounds,” while Virginia governor Bob McDonnell said they were “reckless and slanderous.” McDonnell added that, “People don’t care about Mitt Romney’s tax returns. They are [worried] about their own tax returns,” which would probably be mostly true in a world in which Mitt Romney had released more tax returns.
Meanwhile, the Democrats did their best to contain their glee over the situation, with varying degrees of success. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell gently peer pressured Romney to share his filings, saying, “We all do it. It’s become commonplace in American politics … Mitt, go ahead and do it.” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs suggested that Romney “go to Kinko’s,” where he could “put this to rest” by making copies of the documents for “a nickel a page.” (Gibbs was nice enough to offer to send him the nickels.):
“The whole world would know exactly what loopholes he’s taking advantage of,” alluding to Romney’s having placed some of his money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.Asked repeatedly whether the Obama campaign in Chicago had told Reid to stop making those tax claims, Gibbs would only reply: “I don’t think anybody controls Harry Reid.
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz was more subdued: “This question is not just generated by Harry Reid,” she said. “It’s been asked by countless reporters, by voters that want to know more about Mitt Romney’s finances.” And David Axelrod stuck to what has become an Obama campaign mantra, asking, “Why don’t they just put this to rest? What is it that he’s hiding?”
Finally, Reid himself weighed in once again via a statement sent to Talking Points Memo this morning which read, in part, “It is sad that the most secretive candidate since Richard Nixon has forced his party to defend his decision to hide the truth about his tax returns.” Sad is one word for it.