Just this morning, I noted that Mitt Romney publicly gave his word, on camera, that he would “go back and look” to let us know what tax rates he paid over the last decade. The good news is, Romney really did “go back and look,” and elaborated on the findings today.
The bad news is, his answer was horrible.
For those who can’t watch clips online:
“…I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.”
Let’s walk through the top five reasons this answer is woefully unacceptable.
1. Romney can prove this claim is accurate, and also prove that Reid is wrong, by releasing his tax returns (the tax returns he already turned over to John McCain). For reasons he can’t explain, Romney still refuses. Today’s response, at its root, comes down to, “trust me.”
2. Romney isn’t in a position to say “trust me” since he has a track record of making similar claims that turned out to be completely wrong.
3. Romney’s answer only leads to more questions. He claims, without proof, to have paid “at least 13 percent” every year. But 13 percent of what? Does that cover total or taxable income? Maybe Romney would be happy to “go back and look” again?
4. Romney may not understand this, but 13 percent isn’t a tax burden worth bragging about. Most of the middle class are not, by definition, multi multi-millionaires with car elevators, and they’re paying a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes than Romney is. (Romney, if elected, intends to make sure he and his wealthy buddies continue to pay less than working people.)
And 5. Romney, by addressing the story in detail again today, keeps the story alive and steps on every other part of his message.
Bonus! 6. If you watch the clip, Romney describes interest in this issue as “very small-minded.” He just insulted nearly two-thirds of the country.