Friday, July 20, 2012

Taxing Our Patience

As the days go by and Mitt R-Money still won't release his back taxes, several wacky theories are emerging as to what he may be hiding: "In violation of SEC rules, privately invested in leading Michigan tree-trimming firm same week he was publicly touting how trees are just the right height there."

Yes, I know it's Photoshopped, but it tells a deeper truth. How's that for a rationalization? OK, then, it's just funny.

But it's not R money, it's Mitt's money and he doesn't want us into the details. And no matter how legal it all is -- because you know he can afford the best accountants -- the financial realities of a nine figure net worth are not going to endear Romney to people with five figures of W2 income.

The theories are flying, most revolving around a low or even zero tax liability. Rachel Maddow suggests possible fines: "If he tried to skirt American tax laws in the past and got caught, the returns might show penalties, fines, and/or back tax payments."

The Week offers several novel theories, including resistance to diverting attenton from Obama and the economy, sheer arrogance, or "Romney might actually have something to hide." One of their theories I'm not buying: "Each return provides a reminder of Romney's Mormonism." The Romney's annual tithe to their church is one of the few aspects of either their finances or their faith that Romney has been willing to talk about.

There's also the Friday Afternoon News Dump theory, which is that Romney will in fact release the returns -- strategically timed to be buried in a busy news day. Specifically, right when the Olympics open.

Personally, my only interest in the Olympics is in how the hell "London Calling" replaced "Rule Brittania" or "God Save The Queen" (the national anthem kind, not the Sex Pistols kind) as the default theme music for TV to set the scene in the UK. Much in the same inverse, perverse way that Jamaica is hawking tourism with the music of back to Africa Rastafarian Bob Marley. Here's hoping Joe Strummer's kids are getting big royalty checks.

Aaah, a much-needed spiritual cleansing after all this talk of Mitt Romney's taxes. All that musical class warfare came from the son of a diplomat; Joe Strummer went to upper-class boarding schools, just like Mitt Romney and in about the same era. Two young men experience the 60s and go opposite directions. One son embraced those upper-income values and pushed the outsourcing envelope; one son shattered those values and built something new.

I'd rather write more about the Clash but I've already done that, ages ago, and I'm supposed to be talking about Mitt Romney's taxes. I've got another hypothesis, not one that I'm confident in but just a possibility: the Ann Says No theory. Old timers like me recall how much pressure was on Geraldine Ferraro in `84 to release her family's finances, and how one aspect was that her husband didn't want his dealings out in the open. The hole in my theory is I can't think of a good "why."

True or not, Romney could take a page from Ferraro's book. When the finances were finally released, she held a no time limit, take every question press conference, accountant at her side, to exhaust further interest in the topic and get it off the table.

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