As Mitt Romney stated recently, he will not be releasing any more tax returns to the American public because President Obama is mean. Mitt says he’s “simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.” (I know, right? Like last time I applied for a job, I just told the people who were responsible for hiring me, “Hell no, I’m not releasing my resume just so you can pick through it and find all sorts of reasons not to hire me.”)
Even a number of prominent Republicans and conservatives – Haley Barbour, George Will and Bill Kristol, among them – have called on Romney to release further tax returns. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) told POLITICO on Tuesday he also thinks it would help the presumptive GOP nominee “politically,” since “it looks like releasing tax returns is what the people want.”
Except… it would not be good for the Republicans politically. In fact, it would probably be terrible.
While no one knows for sure why Romney is refusing to release his tax returns, the most likely explanation seems to be that he paid no taxes or practically no taxes in 2009. This explains why the McCain camp reportedly never found anything alarming when they vetted him in 2008 (although, to be fair, they kind of sucked at the whole vetting process). It also makes sense given that Romney undoubtedly took a hit during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and many of his other holdings were in foreign bank accounts.
But here is why this revelation would be so damaging not only to Romney but to the entire Republican party: because what he did was probably 100% legal.
The key swing voters — middle- and working-class people in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania — are people who believe strongly in The American Dream. Up until now, the Republicans have been very successful at selling them the idea that the Democrats want to tax away and socialize that American Dream. Despite the fact that we have some of the lowest tax rates in the developed world, Republicans have successfully created this idea that if the Democrats get their way, the whole incentive-and-reward system that makes the American Dream possible will be taxed away. It will be all of the hard-working people like YOU who are harmed, and only the lazy, mooching Other People who will benefit.
But now, if the American people were to see in black and white what the Republicans’ platform truly means, that illusion might be removed. The elephant will have no clothes.