Doubling down

R-money wasn’t managing a company of which he was president, CEO, and chairman of the board, and he’s not showing any more tax returns.

Mitt Romney made two things clear today:

1. He’s going to keep insisting that he had nothing to do with the management of a company of which he was the sole shareholder, president, CEO, and chairman. Good luck with that.

2. He’s not going to show any more tax returns. He showed 10 years to McCain, his father showed a dozen years, but he’s showing 2010 and (when it’s filed) 2011. Period.

Still not clear whether his stubbornness on the tax returns reflects just not wanting to answer a million more questions about offshore accounts and the carried interest tax loophole or whether there’s actually a smoking gun somewhere in there. With a bunch of Republicans now calling for disclosure, I’m slightly inclined toward the “smoking gun” theory, but then that’s what I thought about Saddam Hussein’s standoffishness about weapons inspections.

Update The full quote illustrates the limitlessness of Romney’s rich-kid arrogance:

The law requires us to put out a full financial disclosure. That I’ve done. I know there will always be calls for more, people always want to get more, and, you know, we’re putting out what is required plus more that is not required, and those are the two years that people are going to have. That’s all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances.

By “something,” of course, R-money means “as much as I want them to know.”

Will no reporter ask him why the American people are entitled to less information from someone who wants to be President than John McCain got when considering Romney for Vice-President?

 

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

35 thoughts on “Doubling down”

  1. Here is what I don’t understand. If Mitt Romney wasn’t running Bain Capital then someone else presumably was. If that person exists: Who was he? Why didn’t he put his name on the SEC filings and sign them? Why doesn’t Romney name him?

    1. Obviously is was one of the innumerable painfully shy, reticent shrinking violets who ascend to the heights of high finance and take no interest in job titles, in recognition, or in publicity. You know the type, they’re a dime a dozen, especially since they also have no interest in a lavish salary or in taking any part of an ownership stake in the company they head.

      1. Would have to be someone willing to participate in a fraud or conspiracy. Real corporate life and death decisions were made during that time, pensions were hijacked, companies were loaded with debt and liquidated, and a lot of people were fired, communities devastated. Who was responsible for all that and doing it in Mitt’s name?

        1. I don’t think it would have been difficult to find such a person considering that you can’t swing a dead cat on Wall St. without hitting a sociopath.

  2. Part of me really wants someone to charge Romney with perjury over his 2011 disclosure form.

    Part of me is worried that doing so would result in a minor but literal civil war.

    1. I wrote that comment before seeing your previous post but, yes, I’m not sure it would take a whole lot for a good number of the “No tears from me when my mortal enemies drop dead for any reason” crowd to decide that maybe they should take a more proactive role in liberals dropping dead.

  3. Smoking guns?

    Apart from a political-fallout review, what made 1999 a better year than 2002 to date a separation agreement? Given the dot.com experience, perhaps someone else got paid to accept poor returns as part of “their” oversight?

  4. It certainly helps tremendously that the Republicans have decided to nominate Eric Cartman for the Presidency, doesn’t it?

    As Mitt/Eric is now saying; “Respect my authoritah!”

    That should work as well for Mitt as it always had for Eric.

    (And thanks to wikipedia for spelling that one for me! – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Cartman)

  5. The emerging documentary evidence is really juicy, and catching romney in a lie that big makes it worth pressing the issue. But I can’t help thinking the more profitable way to squeeze his Bain statements for the long term is to focus pretty hard on his statement to the Massachusetts election commission in 2002. It’s getting overlooked when I think it’s tremendously telling about him.

    At that time, he wanted the commission to decide that he’d been enough of a resident during the Salt Lake years that he’d be eligible to run for governor. He said then that he was actively involved in Bain decisions and management in person, flying in for meetings when he could and on conference calls when he couldn’t. Based on what he said, they agreed that he’d kept enough residency to run.

    Now (and actually during the 2002 campaign, apparently) he says he wasn’t involved at all in Bain. The difference is that now, for obvious reasons, he wants us all to decide he has no responsibility for what Bain did in those years. So he says he had none.

    This contradiction in what he actually said at two different times, when he wanted people to believe two different things about him, is another instance of what has always been his central weakness– he’ll say anything. People understood it during the republican primaries and they’ll understand it during the campaign, but it has to be hammered on.

    Of course it’s damaging and gratifying to catch him in such obvious whoppers and to link him to what Bain did, and he should be pressed hard on them. In the bigger picture, though, it doesn’t actually matter so much whether he’s telling a lie, a partial truth, a complete truth, or a fantasy. He will say whatever he thinks he needs to say at any given time and in any given circumstance. And that’s something that sits wrong with lots and lots of people, even plenty who don’t care so much about outsourcing.

    1. I thunk you’ve hit (one of the) nails on the head here.

      Romney is an insanely wealthy finance guy. The public has a perception of finance guys as reptilian and slimy–think Gordon Gekko. Romney’s campaign has been trying to portay him as an upstanding family man who made his fortune through hard work and good old American values. But the more he spills these half-truths, opportunistic lies and hidden facts, the more he seems to all of America like a venal, careerist Wall Streeter: the unethical corporate raider who foreclosed on your house and depleted your 401K only to enrich himself. Your retirement went to buy one of Ann Romney’s Cadillacs or dressage horses, it bought one of the tennis courts at one of Romney’s mansions.

      This is the narrative that’s shaping up, and it plays heavily in the Democrats’ favor.

    2. I suspect that Romney’s response to this would be to deny that he was ever governor of Massachusetts.

  6. And it looks like our naif, after being raked over coals for four “bipartisan” years, is finally waking to the rude reality he swims in (800 million Rove dollars!)…
    “The buck stops with you” and “absolutely” it is relevant, puts “presidential” pressure on the Wall Street Music Man. Well done Mr. Obama.

  7. But I can’t help thinking the more profitable way to squeeze his Bain statements for the long term is to focus pretty hard on his statement to the Massachusetts election commission in 2002. It’s getting overlooked when I think it’s tremendously telling about him.

    I agree.

    And by the way, shouldn’t his attendance, as well as what was discussed, show up in the minutes of Bain board meetings?

    1. Bain is a privately-held entity. SFAIK, there is no obligation on Bain to make its board minutes public, or even to keep board minutes. Now, I don’t believe for an instant that something the size of Bain doesn’t keep minutes. Simultaneously, I wouldn’t believe for an instant anything that Bain released purporting to be minutes. I wouldn’t believe it even if (as is likely) the thing came directly from a Court Reporter with a notarized attestation that these are the full and complete minutes.

  8. He actually gave 23 years of tax returns to McCain, and John passed on him for a total incompetent. That says toe that there’s something embarrasing in the returns, like paying no taxes in some years.

    Also, if he had 23 returns to provide in 2008, he has 27 returns available now, covering most of his Bain years and ALL of the years since then when he’s still getting Bain salary and dividends.

    What do you have to hide, Mitt? It’s something worse for you than the non-disclosure is.

  9. The standoffishness could be a calculated ploy to foment a backlash against mainstream media. If the media devotes a larger amount of time and energy into pressuring the campaign into releasing the tax returns than the returns warrant, it would continue to whip up antipathy among conservative activists. Nothing seems to motivate the Republican base like the erosion of its privileged position in society.

    On the one hand, if the Romney campaign were self-aware, they would know that there isn’t a large constituency of conservatives that are sympathetic to Romney. That would be a reason to discount the idea that this could be strategic obstinance. On the other hand, the Romney campaign has not evinced much self-aware behavior, so the possibility survivies.

    1. = = = The standoffishness could be a calculated ploy to foment a backlash against mainstream media. If the media devotes a larger amount of time and energy into pressuring the campaign into releasing the tax returns than the returns warrant, it would continue to whip up antipathy among conservative activists. Nothing seems to motivate the Republican base like the erosion of its privileged position in society. = = =

      That’s a concern, but the $100 million IRA is very, very difficult to explain away to the mushy middle no matter how much anger one whips up at the librul MSM amongst the members of the Radical Right. The Radicals are going to vote for Romney no matter what, after all.

      Cranky

  10. An added point: Mitt can’t win this argument in either direction. Either he’s lying about how much involvement he had in Bain from 1999 to 2002, which makes him unfit for the presidency because he’s a liar. Or he’s being honest about his lack of involvement, which makes him a bad and unaccountable CEO–again appearing unfit for the presidency because he doesn’t take responsibility for those things over which he presides.

    1. Yeah, he’s describing himself as a CEO like the Barclay’s guy, or Rupert Murdoch, or Jamie Dimon– gives himself the big bucks, the big office, the big title, the big public face, but golly gee, has no idea what anyone in his outfit is doing and no responsibility for anything. Now *that’s* got to be a winning stance–

      1. To be fair to Rupert, Jamie and Bob (Barclays’s guy) they are quite capable fellows, helping their respective vampire squids grow, whereby Mitt has evinced no such ability. He’s just a strip miner.

  11. It’s been the case for decades that aspirants for higher office should have no expectation of privacy about their personal lives, let alone their professional lives. What makes this arrogant jerk think that he can get away with disclosing so little information about his past professional activities and his income sources and taxes? And after he made so many enemies in his own party, it should make for a very interesting Republican convention.

    1. The answer to your question is embedded in your question: he is an “arrogant jerk.”

      That’s really all you need to know about him, other than the fact that he is apparently also a compulsive liar, who will lie even when it’s not to his advantage to do so. Lying comes more naturally to him than truth-telling, and yes, this qualifies as arrested development, from about age 3.

    2. MikeM: It’s been the case for decades that aspirants for higher office should have no expectation of privacy about their personal lives, let alone their professional lives.

      Yes, and I have to say that I don’t think that this is a good thing.

      I understand that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy this time around, but as a general practice it cheapens and devalues our political discourse. Not necessarily because politicians running for office are entitled to a lot of privacy when it comes to their professional record (their private lives are a different story altogether), but because it cheapens and devalues political discourse. There is no talking about policy issues when the news channels are being blanketed with talk about Mitt Romney’s performance at Bain or John Kerry’s military record or Barack Obama’s pastor.

      Tax records, in particular, tend to be almost exclusively fodder for attack ads, not valuable insights on matters of policy.

      I don’t think it’s fixable (at least not in the short term), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  12. This reminds me of the drumbeat in 2000 about then-Vice President Gore’s alleged habit of exaggerating: e.g., Love Canal, “invent[ing] the Internet”, etc. The difference is that here, there is actual substance to the charges of prevaricating.

    1. “Gore’s alleged habit of exaggerating: e.g., Love Canal”

      Did Al claim to have single handedly remidiated Love Canal?

      Or did you mean Love Story?

  13. It seems fairly clear that Mitt Romney is a control freak. He is also one who makes darn sure he has all the upside with little personal downside risk. This is part of the founding story of Bain Capital – his bargain with Bill Bain to hold him harmless if the new venture did not pan out. Taken together,it is completely in character for Romney to have maintained his position within the firm and inconceivable he would not have retained some control over the firm he started and from which he was (and still is) receiving compensation.

  14. Please share this with your readership:

    If you feel this letter has value, please share it with at least 5 others and ask them to share it also. We may not have millions of dollars to spread a message, but we all have at least 5 friends and acquaintances. Ask them to also send it to 5 more people, chain-letter style. In fact, I encourage you to spread it as far as you can, eMails to friends, Facebook, Blogs, op-ed pieces and letters to the editor in your local paper. If the subject matter of the letter is not deemed worthy of coverage, the way the message is being spread may well be. It is not political in supporting any candidate, it just asks: Where is America headed? This is something we should all be interested in. Below is the letter I believe all Americans should see, and please let me know me what you think.
    Charles Gallo (AnInnerVoice@gmail.com)
    ++++++
    I am an expatriate in a “poor” country. Therefore, I have a unique view of what is happening in the United States. We are told we live in an age of austerity, so the United States must move in the direction of a smaller government, which provides less services, but taxes income less. This is the type of government the country that I now live in has: small government with few services. Please read this with an open mind and heart. Do not be blinded by a pre-existent theoretical ideology. Question everything, research and use your common sense. We are not just bystanders. The future is in our hands.

    I am a retired expatriate in the tourist area of the Dominican Republic. So I am not touched by the local economic conditions; but I can observe them. In this country, there are a few very wealthy people who are the political elite, and can give unlimited funds to their chosen candidate’s political campaigns during elections. There is also a small middle class which is concentrated in the tourist areas and large cities. However most people, outside of the tourist areas, are extremely poor. This may be my tropical island paradise, but for the average local person, the economy here represents Hell far more then Paradise. A Hell few have any hope of escaping. I am concerned by the growing parallels between the US economy and the economy of this country.

    Many poor children in the Dominican Republic cannot go to public school. Their parents cannot afford to pay for their books or required school uniforms. So few of these children will ever be better off economically then their parents are. These children can never dream of having a better future then their parents. The “Dominican Dream” does not exist.

    The United States economy has become more technology dependent. The jobs of the future will demand greater skills. Just a High School education is no longer sufficient to get a good well-paying job. Yet, I read some Americans cannot now go to College unless they, or their families, are able to take out loans for up to $50,000 or more. This is a trend that is increasing, as governments cut their support to the State University systems. The “free” and low-cost open colleges and universities, such as found in New York City, California, and many other states in the past, no longer exist. These were the true levelers of the economic playing field. They are the key ingredient to achieving the “American Dream.” Education has always been the way to advance up the economic ladder. But is it now being restricted to only those who can afford it? Will future generations of ordinary Americans be able to climb that ladder and be better off then their parents were? We must ask “is the ‘American Dream’ disappearing for the children of ordinary working class Americans?”

    The Dominican men who live in small towns cannot find jobs. In some cases, the adult men have never had a steady or stable job. Their yearly work is limited to seasonal harvesting of Bananas and Plantains. Yet, they still have children. Birth control seems to be unknown, unaffordable, or most likely, frowned upon in this Catholic and machismo culture. Sadly, in desperation, all too many of their wives or daughters, who often are single mothers, flock to the tourist areas in order to sell themselves for a night; just so their family can survive. While this behavior is not applauded, it is accepted by many, as doing what is necessary.

    Now I read there are Americans who have been unemployed for more then a year, and the “Food Banks” are empty because the demand for food is greater then the donations of food they receive. Yet, some in congress want to end extended unemployment benefits, and food stamps. I doubt that anyone in congress who is saying this, has ever tried to support a family with children on an “unemployment check” or had to beg for food. Those “unemployment checks” and “food stamps” are what enables these ordinary Americans to feed their children, and buy the things which give other Americans their jobs. Doesn’t the “American Dream” include being able to feed your children?

    At the same time, hundreds of thousands of these same American families face the chance that they will lose their homes. No job means that the banks threaten them with the possibility of their homes being foreclosed. Unlike what some politicians tell us, most of these Americans could afford those homes, until they lost their jobs. There are “news reports” of middle class families who lost their jobs, savings, and homes, who are now living in cars. They believe it is safer then living in a homeless shelter. Like you, they never thought the possibility of their being homeless ever existed. This is a strange new world for them, it keeps them awake at night hoping their nightmare will soon end.

    The statistics we read about unemployment and foreclosures are not just numbers. They represent real men, women, and children, who maybe for the first time in their lives question: “Will I eat tonight and where will I sleep?” They are more afraid then they have ever been before in their lives. Without any government help, what will those families be forced to do in order to survive?

    The average Dominican family is large because their children act as the parent’s only old age security. There is no “Social Security” type old age pension. Retirement is unknown because the average person has to work until the day they die. The average Dominican seldom earns more then what is required for the day-to-day necessities of life. They do not have bank accounts to help support themselves when they become old or disabled. It makes perfect sense to have a lot of children to help support themselves in their old age. When a parent is too old or sick to work, they live with one of their children, and all the children split the responsibility for supporting them. It is not uncommon to see three and sometimes four generations of a family living in the same small home.

    In the United States Congress some say “entitlement programs” such as Social Security should be cut back and made voluntary. They say these programs make up most of the budget of the United States and the deficit cannot be dealt with unless we change these programs. These programs are called “entitlement programs” because people pay a special tax in order to be “entitled” to them. In the case of “Social Security” it is the “FICA Payroll Tax.” This tax can be thought of as being the equivalent to an insurance premium.

    These Congressmen say the retirement age should be extended to age 72, the cost of living adjustment should be eliminated, or the benefits paid should be reduced. For many Americans, Social Security is the biggest part of their post-retirement income. Under the present “FICA Payroll Tax” system, the person who earns $110,000 pays the same exact amount in taxes as the person who earns $1,100,000, or $10,000,000. Mitt Romney had an income of $21.6 million in 2010; instead of a FICA tax of $1,404,000 without the cap, he paid $7,150. President Obama had an income of $1,728,096 in 2010; instead of a FICA tax of $112,327 without the cap, he paid $7,150. The actual FICA tax rate for the ditch-digger, garbageman, or teacher is 10 or 100 or 1000 times that for a CEO, corporate financier, or government official. Rather then reducing benefits or delaying the retirement age, shouldn’t we be talking about ending the $110,000 cap on incomes that are taxed, while capping the present maximum benefit, and maintaining the cost of living adjustment? Adopting this program would mean the system would be fairer since the tax would then become a defined flat tax for all Americans rather then the present regressive tax. The Social Security trust fund should be put in a “locked box” which is not counted as part of the General Federal Government Budget. The new taxes collected would help reduce budget deficit by relieving the problem with the Social Security trust fund in the future.

    We all know Social Security gives workers an old age pension. But it also provides some income to make up for income lost, in the case of a permanent disability of a worker. Should Social Security be made voluntary for young workers? Should it be replaced with an “Individual Retirement Account” of some type? This idea would be the death of Social Security as we now know it. Would this “new social security system” solve the deficit crisis we now face? Would this IRA be the equal to Social Security, in any case of disability? Will there be some type of guarantee against “market risk” for this replacement IRA? How would this change effect low pay workers? How should our children deal with old age and retirement?

    There are health insurance programs in the Dominican Republic, but few can afford them. Those who have health insurance and can pay, will obtain fine medical care at modern hospitals which are often partnered with US hospitals. However, for the average person, they must go to the free or low-cost government sponsored and charity related hospitals; where, if they have a stroke or heart attack, they are only stabilized and sent home in a day or two. Their care is the responsibility of the family, and all drugs must be paid for by the family with no help from the government. Transplants, Dialysis, major surgery, CAT scans, MRI’s, and other advance procedures which we take for granted in our medical care are just not available to the average family here. Is this the type of health care system some in Congress feel we should be headed towards?

    In the United States, until recently, the Dominican model is exactly the type of health care a person would receive if they could not pay for it, and had no insurance. Because of the Hippocratic oath, a doctor or hospital could not turn a person away. However, all they were required to do was stabilize patients, end the immediate danger, not cure them. The cost of treating these patients were added to the bills that other patients received. In some cases, where the patient qualified, the hospital would apply for Medicaid on behalf of the patient, and then try to cure them. Other then this, hospitals would do the minimum as required the Hippocratic oath.

    Most Americans have health insurance. Sometimes it is targeted government sponsored programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare. Most often, health insurance is a benefit provided by their employer. However as its cost goes up, many employers can no longer afford it and are dropping it. Also, if a person loses a job, they do not automatically qualify for Medicaid, the health care program for the indigent. The affluent can buy their own private health insurance. But there were millions of Americans who had no health insurance, and could not afford to receive medical care if they got sick. Medical costs were the biggest reason people filed for bankruptcy in the past.

    The United States was the only nation in the developed world that did not have some type of national health insurance for all its citizens. Should medical care in case of illness be considered a “human right” beyond just stabilizing a patient? Why was the recently passed health insurance law not a single payer system, based on Medicare? Why maintain the hodgepodge of insurance companies, each with their own administrative costs and policies, trying to maximize profits? Why not limit these companies to offering a Medic-gap type and gold plated wrap-around policies? Why is the cost of medical care and drugs in the United States almost twice that of any other developed country? Why allow lawyers to advertise on TV for clients to sue medical companies and doctors? Shouldn’t the lawyer, if he loses, be responsible for all costs; thereby eliminating nuisance suits which raise the cost of medical care?

    I pay my housekeeper/cook $250 per month, which is twice the going rate for 6 days a week, 6 hours per day. She is very thankful, and brags to her friends because I treat her so well. When I first got here I paid more, but my neighbors asked me to lessen the amount I paid because I was causing discord and problems with their household help. There is no minimum wage, nor private sector unions here. And now, I read some US presidential candidates say we should do away with the minimum wage, and weaken unions, in order to compete in the world economy. These candidates say employers are moving to other countries or not hiring, because they have to pay their employees too much, and the US must be competitive. But at what price? Should we emulate a country like this?

    The economic inequity here is extreme and horrific. The economic elite, including expatriates, live like royalty in a tropical paradise while the great mass of people, not in the tourist areas, struggle to just survive every day. The family status in the economy is passed down from generation to generation, because of the advantages being a part of the economic elite affords them. Yet, the people just accept this because that is the way it has always been. I do not want to see the United States be like the country I am presently living in. The people here are docile because this is what they are used to, but the economic conditions here are not what the average American aspires to. Yet, this is the path we seem to be following, because we are told there is no other way.

    Those who advocate a new age of austerity, cite Greece with an unemployment rate of 22.6% as a nation we are sure to follow if we do not tighten our belt and reduce government services. They also cite Spain’s 24.3%, Portugal’s 15.2% and Italy’s 10.2% unemployment rate. However, what they do not say is that in each of these countries tax avoidance seems to be a national sport. These countries have also had austerity budgets for a number of years, even as their economic problems have only gotten worse. Many economists now feel that, in fact, the austerity programs are the main cause of the economic problems.

    On the other hand, economies in many countries are doing quite well, such as: Germany which has un-employment rate of 5.4%, Austria 4.3%, Norway 3.0%, Netherlands 4.2%, Switzerland 2.9%, Japan 4.1%, Australia 4.9% and so on. So what do they have in common, and what are they doing differently when compared to the United States?

    1- They have Universal socialized health care, and while all their people have health care they spend a small fraction of what US businesses and Government spend on health care.
    2- They have Universal Education, which means you can get an education up to your PhD pretty much for FREE.
    3- They have MUCH higher taxes than in United States on someone making more than 250 thousand dollars, for example in Germany 45%.
    4- They have MUCH MORE generous unemployment benefits than in US.
    5- They have MUCH more unionized workforce than US.
    6- They do not spend Trillions of dollars on a gargantuan military, and unnecessary wars, which drains their budgets and keeps needed infrastructure from being repaired and built.

    So maybe these countries should be our models for the future, rather then Greece and the Dominican Republic.

    1. This overlooks one little problem, and that is that the rich (and they are the ones in power) want to stay that way and enjoy the vast chasm separating them from the hoi polloi.

      It is that very separation that the rich like best about being rich; therefore the rich always want to be richer AND they always want the poor to be poorer. Otherwise, where will they be able to find desperate and obsequious lackeys who know their place in the “natural order” of things, and how could they continue to revel in their own privilege that proves they’re special?

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