Mitt Romney is once again on the attack against Donald Trump. This time, Romney claims that if Trump won’t release his income tax forms, it will disqualify him from being President. He also suggested that the only reason for not releasing them is that there must be some “bombshell” hidden in them.
I supported Romney, just as I will Trump, despite having serious differences with both. I believe that if you’re a Republican, then you respect the voters’ choice. But I am especially disappointed in Mitt for this latest attack. He’s not only trying to sink his own party’s presumptive nominee, but he’s factually incorrect and he’s making the same unfair attack on Trump that was launched against him in 2012.
Back then, Mitt also came under fire for not releasing his tax returns swiftly enough. Harry Reid took advantage of that to deliberately lie from the Senate floor that Romney might be trying to hide his own bombshell: that he hadn’t paid any taxes in 10 years. Reid knew that accusation was a blatant falsehood, but when asked about it two years later, he expressed no regrets for his slander. Instead, Reid smirked, “He didn’t win, did he?” The only revelation to come from that story was that Harry Reid was an unrepentant liar, hardly a “bombshell” to anyone who’d been paying attention for the past 20 or so years.
I have long argued that all candidates should resist the fairly-recent demand that they release their personal tax forms. First, it is an invasion of privacy that’s not a requirement for office. The qualifications for the Presidency are clear-cut, and there are specific financial disclosure forms you must file. But no law requires a candidate to release his or her personal tax forms.
Secondly, what would the average voter learn from seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns? He obviously doesn’t do them himself. He has a platoon of accountants filling out hundreds of pages of complicated forms to comply with (and if he’s smart, avoid) our massive, baffling tax code. You’d have to be a CPA to even vaguely understand Trump’s tax return. But it’s a treasure trove for opponents to lift items out of context to make him look shady. And lest you think that’s unique to Trump, it happens to everyone.
Early in my political career, I volunteered to release all my tax returns. Why not? I had nothing to hide. If anything, I was probably too honest and paid too much tax. It sure felt like it! But I learned that honesty and good intentions don’t count for squat in politics. My opponents still twisted things out of context to try to make me look like a tax cheat. You can do that to anyone because nobody understands the tax code, not even the IRS agents in charge of enforcing it.
If Mitt Romney wants to talk about taxes while showing the world what a real Republican stands for, he should stop trying to destroy the party’s presumptive nominee and instead aim his fire at a more appropriate target: the 70,000-plus-page tax code.