From time to time Newsmax offers editorials to its readers on important matters. Our editorial on Mitt Romney and his tax returns follows.
Mitt Romney owes it to Republican primary voters, not to mention the American people, to release his tax returns — now!
After declining to release his returns, Romney has reluctantly agreed this week to release his tax returns.
But he wants to release them in April. That immediately raised the question: Why wait until April? For sure, Mitt’s critics and some voters are also asking, “What is Mitt hiding?”
It is not out of the ordinary for a presidential candidate to release tax returns in April.
But Romney’s financial dealings have become a major issue in this campaign. Newsmax believes he needs to face head-on any questions about his finances before primary voters cast their ballots in South Carolina and Florida. These races will be crucial for the Republican nomination, and Republicans need to know today if their candidate will pass muster with general election voters come November.
Americans expect candor from candidates and appreciate honesty and disclosure.
Barack Obama vowed disclosure and transparency during his 2008 campaign, only to disappoint supporters with an administration that has been anything but transparent.
Now Romney has raised questions about his candor and openness by first declining to release his tax returns – then putting off disclosure of his returns until after most key primaries are completed.
Mitt Romney has promised the nation leadership. A real leader must be willing to stand up and be counted.
In contrast to Romney, his GOP presidential rival Newt Gingrich has been surprisingly candid about not only his finances, but his personal life and shortcomings.
On Thursday, Gingrich disclosed that he paid $994,708 in income tax on earnings of more than $3.1 million in 2010, paying a rate of 31.6 percent — twice the marginal 15 percent rate Romney says he “probably” has paid on his earnings.
Gingrich hit the nail on the head when he said on CBS on Tuesday: “It’s interesting that Romney agreed that he ought to release his income taxes but he doesn’t want to do it until April. I think the people of South Carolina ought to know now — if there’s nothing there, why hide it until April, and if there’s something there, don’t the people of South Carolina deserve to know before Saturday?
“We want people to be able to withstand the attack of the Obama machine this fall. We better understand before the nomination whether or not our candidates are capable of withstanding that kind of attack. The worst thing for us to do would be to nominate somebody and then have them disintegrate in September because Obama found some weakness and went after it relentlessly.”
On this point, Gingrich is right.
Former presidential candidate Rick Perry — who said he has released all of his returns over 30 years — also called on Romney to release his returns, saying: “Mitt, we need you to release your income tax returns so the people of this country can see how you made your money. We cannot fire our nominee in September. By then it’s too late.”
Ironically, it was Romney’s father George Romney who set the precedent for presidential candidates to release their tax returns: During his 1968 campaign, he disclosed a dozen years of returns.
In March 2008, Barack Obama released tax returns dating to 2000. John Kerry released returns for 10 years. John McCain released returns for two years.
Newsmax strongly believes that Romney should immediately release his tax returns — and we are not alone.
When Romney said at Thursday’s debate that he would release his returns in April, he was greeted by a resounding chorus of boos from the audience.
“They ought to have released all the tax stuff a year ago, had the fracas and popped the bubble early,” said Florida GOP operative Rick Wilson, who worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 campaign.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has endorsed Romney for president, declared on NBC’s “Today” show that Romney should release his returns “sooner rather than later,” adding: “It’s always better, in my view, to have complete disclosure, especially when you’re the front-runner.”
CNN ran an opinion piece from Paul Caron, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law: “Mitt Romney’s fumbling response to questions about his tax returns threatens to destroy the central premise of his candidacy: That his business acumen will help him lead the country out of its current economic troubles. Why is Romney so defensive about the tax issue?”
In a similar vein, The New York Times opined: “Despite Mr. Romney’s claim that ‘people will want to see the most recent year,’ his 2011 taxes would not be enough. Voters have a right to know how presidential aspirants made their money — not just in the year before the election. This is especially true in Mr. Romney’s case because he says his business success qualifies him to be president.”
Political observers have pointed to several reasons why the release of Romney’s tax returns could hurt his candidacy. For one thing, they could disclose the extent to which he has used a “notorious Caribbean tax haven,” the Cayman Islands, to minimize his tax bill, The Week website pointed out.
His returns could also shine a light on Romney’s use of the “carried interest” loophole. Romney’s private equity portfolio contains dozens of funds managed by his former firm, Bain Capital, and “it is entirely possible that Romney didn’t personally invest a dime into any of those funds,” said Dan Primack at Fortune magazine.
Whenever these funds complete a successful investment, Romney likely gets paid the “carried interest” — a share of the profits — which is then taxed at just 15 percent.
These questions need to be resolved in a forthright and timely manner by any candidate aspiring to be the next president of the United States — and before the Obama machine can exploit them in the run-up to the November elections.
Governor Romney, do the right thing and release your tax returns today!
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