Saturday, August 4, 2012

Political Backbone Award: Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s firm, persistent criticism of Romney's refusal to release his tax returns deserves commendation:
“There is a controversy because the Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, refuses to release his tax returns. As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
Last weekend, Governor Romney promised that he would check his tax returns and let the American people know whether he ever paid a rate lower than 13.9 percent. One day later, his campaign raced to say he had no intention of putting out any further information…
I understand Romney is concerned that many people, Democrats and Republicans, have been calling on him to release his tax returns. He has so far refused. There is only one thing he can do to clear this up, and that’s release his tax returns.”
Of course, Reid is doing it for political horse race purposes, not out of political principle: Romney is either hiding something damaging or expressing contempt for regular taxpayers, either of which makes him politically vulnerable on this issue, so Reid is pressing his advantage:  
“It’s clear Romney is hiding something, and the American people deserve to know what it is. Whatever Romney’s hiding probably speaks volumes about how he would approach issues that directly impact middle-class families, like tax reform and the economy. When you are running for president, you should be an open book.
Reid’s stance on government transparency here is highly admirable -- I wish I could be assured that he believed it deeply as a matter of principle, and see him commit the Senate to overturning Citizens United and make campaign finance entirely open and transparent to the public -- when you’re running for Congress you should be a open book, too.  Or better yet, Reid could press for a constitutional amendment to fund campaigns entirely from the public treasury.  But at least maybe Reid and other centrists will learn a lesson from this success: taking the initiative and keeping your opponent on the defensive is a lot better than the reverse.  I hope to see things like this for the rest of the campaign.

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