“If the campaign is about issues, we win. If it’s about Mitt Romney’s record as a businessman, then we don’t win. If it’s about Mitt Romney’s tax returns, then we don’t win. If it’s about whether people like Mitt Romney more than Barack Obama, then we don’t win.” — Rick Santorum, in an interview with the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz
Joe. My. God. explains what this is about:
Gawker has posted 954 pages of previously unseen and labyrinthine Bain financial documents which they say may reveal proof of Mitt Romney’s attempt to cloak his massive holdings in tax-proof domestic and offshore accounts.
Bain isn’t a company so much as an intricate suite of steadily proliferating inter-related holding companies and limited partnerships, some based in Delaware and others in the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and elsewhere, designed to collectively house roughly $66 billion in wealth in its many crevices and chambers. When Romney left in 1999, he and his wife retained significant investments in many of those Bain vehicles—he claims they are “passive investments” and that they are managed in a blind trust (though the trustee isn’t blind enough to meet federal standards of independence). But aside from disparate snippets of information contained in his federal and Massachusetts financial disclosure forms, his 2010 tax returns, and SEC filings, the nature of those investments has been obfuscated by design.
Gawker says that the documents are so deliberately vague and complex that they cannot begin to decipher what they actually say. They are asking forensic accountants and their readers to dig in.
The private equity firm founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made use of arcane techniques in several of its Cayman Islands-based funds to avoid U.S. taxes, according to a trove of Bain Capital’s private audit and finance records made public on the website Gawker today.
The audited financial statements of one of the Cayman Islands funds make note of the use of “blocker” entities, which are used to help retirement accounts and nonprofit entities avoid some taxes. Financial statements for another fund note that it “intends to conduct its operations so it will … not be subject to United States federal income or withholding tax …”
Those details emerge on the statements of two funds in which Romney still holds a sizeable investment, according to the financial disclosure statements he filed when he announced his bid for president.
The publication of the Bain Documents on the Gawker website could rekindle debate about Romney’s role at the company, and specifically about Bain’s decision to domicile many of its funds in offshore locations known as tax havens.
Fortune‘s Dan Primack calls the documents “worthless” and says he had them months ago…
Alex Seitz-Wald homes in on one discovery:
[O]ne immediate revelation is that Sankaty fund, based in Delaware for tax purposes, lent over $3 million to Las Vegas Sands, the casino company owned by Adelson. The fund made two loans of $2.4 million and $600,000 in 2009 to the Sands. Romney’s IRA held between $250,000 and $500,000 in the partnership, and made $50,000 and $100,000 from it in 2011. Adelson has become the largest donor to the Republican Party and conservative outside groups, dropping at least $70 million.
“At a time when poverty is increasing, when public parks and public libraries are being closed and when public schools are shrinking their offerings and their hours, when the nation’s debt is immense, and when the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together — Romney’s 13 percent is shameful.” — Robert Reich
13% is a bad tip not a tax rate.
Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic calculated last week that under Ryan’s proposals Romney would have paid not 13.9 percent but .82 percent, or just $177,000 or so on $21 million earned. In fairness, I should note that the Ryan proposal isn’t the same thing as the Romney proposal–the Ryan plan eliminates all taxes on capital gains (the main source of Romney’s income), while Romney’s position is to continue to tax rich peoples’ capital gains, albeit at a lower rate than presently. So Romney under Romney’s plan would pay more, but less than 13.9. — Michael Tomasky
Mitt Romney may have a lower effective tax rate than many middle-class Americans, but he’s still dreaming of ways to pay even less… At a town hall-style event in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday he said: “So many friends here in New Hampshire. I feel like I’m almost a New Hampshire resident. … It would save me some tax dollars, I think.”
“If you know you’re running for president anyway, I think it’s just part of the price of running. … Obama did so Romney probably should do it. Look, it’s an interesting debate about what tax rates people should pay, how progressive the tax code should be. I personally, if I were designing the tax code, would have a tax code in which Mitt Romney paid more than 13 percent, I would say, given what I know about the kind of investments he made money from. I’m just not a believer that he needed — that there would have been any economic determent to paying more, and I think it just seems kinda weird that he pays a lower rate than an awful lot of middle-class people.” — Bill Kristol
“And when it comes to releasing taxes, that’s a precedent that was set decades ago, including by Governor Romney’s father. And for us to say that it makes sense to release your tax returns, as I did, as John McCain did, as Bill Clinton did, as the two President Bushes did, I don’t think is in any way out of bounds. I think that is what the American people would rightly expect… People want to know that, you know, everybody’s been playing by the same rules including people who are seeking the highest office in the land.” — President Obama
Steve Benen: Mitt Romney has released his tax returns for 2010, and promised to disclose the returns for 2011. When might we see the most recent year? Ed Gillespie told Fox News we’ll probably get them by Oct. 15 — still two months away. (My note: and about 3 weeks before the election!)
Romney said that when he looked back over his tax returns from the last ten years, he found that he had never paid less than 13 percent of his earnings and that we’re just going to have to trust him on that. However, [Rachel] Maddow said, in 2002 when Romney was running for governor of Massachusetts, it was demanded of him that he release tax returns to demonstrate a residency in that state of at least seven years. Romney refused and insisted that the public take his word for it. Eventually it came out that Romney had lied. He was forced to pay Massachusetts taxes retroactively, because when he said that the public would have to take his word that he had paid taxes for seven years as a Massachusetts resident, it simply wasn’t true. Now he wants us to take his word that he has paid at least 13 percent of his massive income over the last 10 years in taxes. Why should we take him at face value? He has demonstrated a willingness to prevaricate on this very subject in his career as a public figure. “The precedent for trusting them on this,” Maddow said, “is not good.” — Maddow: Romney’s history shows he’s willing to lie about his taxes
MS Bellows Jr. at the Guardian posits another ‘why Romney won’t release his tax returns’ theory: releasing them will prove he committed voter fraud:
“But the Romneys, arbitrarily, refuse to disclose a copy of the returns they filed in 2010 or 2009 (for tax years 2009 and 2008) – which, perhaps not coincidentally, bracket the time period when Romney allegedly committed fraud by voting in Massachusetts when he actually resided in California. So here’s the question: did Romney put his son’s basement’s address on the returns he filed in 2009 and 2010? Or did he truthfully use his real (non-Massachusetts) address, thus implicating himself in voter fraud?”
I’ll bet money that he doesn’t want to release his returns because of numerous, multiple reasons — and this could well be one of them.
“We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life.” — Ann Romney
Mitt Romney believes that the American people (the help) only need two years of his tax returns to know enough about his financial background to vote for him. Well, he doesn’t believe that — that’s just how it’s going to be, peasants. He’s said again and again we’re not getting more than two returns from him – “I’m not a business!” was his latest non-explanation explanation. Did Romney ask for only two tax returns from his potential running mates? Get real.
Buzzfeed: “Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign requested “several” years of tax returns from potential vice presidential picks, senior adviser Beth Myers, who ran the search, told reporters Saturday. Myers said vetting documents were stored in safes in a secure room at campaign headquarters for review by attorneys. Asked what was inside the safes, Myers replied “tax documents, everything we used.” And how many years? “Several” she said, declining to provide a more specific number.
“Mitt Romney reportedly provided 23 years of returns to John McCain’s vetters when he was up for the vice presidential nomination four years ago. He has said he fears that the Obama campaign and the media will distort the contents of any other returns he might release.”
Reuters: “Mitt Romney released two years of his own tax returns to the public but that didn’t appear to be enough when he vetted running-mate Paul Ryan and other vice presidential candidates. The campaign team for Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, reviewed several years of tax returns from Ryan and others, according to the head of Romney’s VP search process Beth Myers. But Romney – a former private equity executive with an estimated net worth of up to $250 million – has refused to publicly release more than two years of tax returns.
“Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who was a potential Romney running mate, said he also had to submit several years of tax returns during the search for a Republican vice presidential candidate. “So more than two?” asked George Stephanopoulos, the host of ABC’s “This Week.” “Well, we don’t get into the details of the vetting process, but I gave him a bunch of tax returns,” Pawlenty replied. “I don’t remember the exact number of years.”“
It’s as if Romney knows he’d need more than two tax returns to review a person’s financial history and background…
“Mr. Romney ought to square with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate.” — Jon Huntsman Sr., national finance chairman of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign
Greg Sargent spoke to Huntsman:
“…in a move that could be significant, Huntsman forcefully called on Romney to release his tax returns. This matters, because Huntsman is a longtime backer of Romney — he has long been close to Romney; he supported his early campaigns; he was the national finance chairman of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign; and he has raised a lot of money for him over the years. (He backed his own son in the latest GOP primary.) “I feel very badly that Mitt won’t release his taxes and won’t be fair with the American people,” Huntsman told me.”
President Obama is hardly the candidate who’s anywhere near “soft” on welfare. Did you know the Boston Herald used to call Governor Romney’s welfare program in Massachusetts “Welfare Wheels“? Joe Klein has the details:
The theme of the day for the Romney campaign was, as Alex Rogers notes below, that Obama’s Soft on Welfare. It sort of flopped. The factoid planted at the microscopic center of the non-story is that the Obama campaign allegedly granted states the right to request waivers from the current welfare work requirements…which is true, except for the following things:
1. The waivers would be granted only if states came up with alternative ideas to create jobs for people on welfare.
2. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney himself asked for such a waiver in 2005.
And, this third bit is just too good…
3. As governor, Romney offered welfare recipients free auto insurance, registration, inspections and memberships in AAA.
Mitt lies and withholds information like this EVERY SINGLE DAY just to convince the feeble minded Fox / Rush fans to vote for him. I can only imagine what those tax returns he’s hiding would really tell us.
source image: paxamericana
Source: Democratic Underground
From a TPM reader: “…It’s entirely possible Romney paid zero income taxes, and possibly nominal capital gains taxes (i.e. less than 15 percent). In fact, since he wasn’t being paid income but presumably was liquidating his stake in Bain Capital, in the perspective of the IRS, he wasn’t earning any income — just selling assets (Bain management company back to his other partners).”
Meanwhile, Slippery Mitt told Fox “News” that Harry Reid has “lost a lot of credibility” because he won’t reveal his source.
Yes. Everyone is worried that Reid is losing credibility because he’s running for president… oh, wait.
“Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact. Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.” — Nancy Pelosi on Sunday
Harry Reid won’t stop until Romney’s tax returns are in hand—Romney CLEARLY has something to hide:
The fierce pushback from Republicans against Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) appears to only be fueling his quest to tear down Mitt Romney over his finances. The Senate majority leader is telegraphing that he has no interest in letting up.
The latest salvo in the intensifying spat comes from Reid’s chief of staff David Krone, who upped the taunts by calling Republicans “a bunch of cowards” and “henchmen for Romney” in an interview with Politico late Sunday night.
“To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ‘liar’ and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth,” Krone told the paper.
Top Republicans on Sunday flatly accused the Senate majority leader of lying when he claimed Romney didn’t pay taxes for a decade, something he says he learned of from an as-yet-unnamed investor to Bain Capital. Reflecting the frustrations of his party, an incensed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar,” and has since repeated the epithet.
The allegation irritated the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board, which called it “a smear from the fever swamps that say more about Mr. Reid’s ethics than they do about Mr. Romney’s taxes.” But Reid isn’t on the ballot this year; Romney is. And as the Journal argued, “Mr. Romney’s problem is that he can only disprove the charge by releasing his tax returns.”
For Romney, it’s a lose-lose proposition because doing so comes with its own risk. The Republican nominee has amassed a fortune, mostly via investment income that allows him to pay a lower tax rate than many working Americans, and Democrats are eager to turn that into a liability with middle class voters.
Do the Romney apologists really think name calling will obscure the fact that their man Mitt Romney refuses to reveal his financial situation to the American public?
Buzzfeed reports that “Mitt Romney’s top advisor and longtime confidant Eric Fehnrstrom didn’t take kindly to unsourced allegations by Harry Reid that the former Massachusetts Governor hadn’t paid any taxes for 10 years saying: “Have you no decency sir?”"
“”I don’t think there is anything behind it. He hasn’t produced any evidence,” Fehrnstrom told Fox News yesterday. “I’m telling you speaking on behalf of the governor that those charges are untrue, they are baseless and there is nothing to back them up. This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s,” Fehnstrom said.
“It may also remind people in Massachusetts about something more recent. In fact, Fehrnstrom himself didn’t always think the burden of proof fell on the accuser. In 2002, Mitt Romney’s gubernatorial run Fehnrstrom was Romney’s attack dog, hitting his opponent Shannon O’Brien for not releasing her husband’s tax returns.
“Fehrnstrom accused O’Brien, who released her tax returns every year since 1998, of being disingenuous by releasing her but not her husband’s returns, a former lobbyist who had worked with Enron implying the returns would show wrongdoing.”
It’s always a different story for Willard when the shoe’s on the other foot.