Romney's Tax Returns: A Test of Leadership
Any sane person living in a country plagued by chronic unemployment, a stagnant economy, and an exploding national debt would question whether the failure of Mitt Romney to release ten years of tax returns should command so much attention during a presidential campaign. The fact that it does is proof of the ability of the Democrats and their allies in the liberal media to guide the national conversation. We've seen this before. Four years ago, while our nation's leaders were holding a secret James Bond-like meeting to discuss the imminent collapse of our financial system, the Democrats and the liberal media felt it was more important to discuss whether Sarah Palin could really see Russia from her back yard.
The controversy over Romney's tax returns is a textbook example of this liberal method of attack. When attacking their opponents, liberals generally ignore a substantive consideration of the issues, preferring instead to focus on insignificant matters that can be understood on a simple level. The Romney tax return issue is simple. Romney is rich. The federal government is broke. Romney's tax rate is about 13%. He could pay more. The average person pays more. It's not fair. That's a simple argument that people can understand.
Of course, any serious discussion of our federal deficit and national debt would be complex. The proper rate of taxation is just one of many issues that would be considered. Should Romney and other high income taxpayers pay more? Maybe they should or maybe they shouldn't but simply taxing these people at a higher rate wouldn't have much of an effect on the federal deficit. As Randall Hoven pointed out in an article in the American Thinker , a 100% tax rate on all taxpayers with incomes of over $10 million, which would include Mitt Romney, would only raise $30 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to annual deficits of over $1 trillion.
The liberals' failure to seriously discuss issues such as this one is a shame because no true consensus on a solution can ever be reached without a thorough understanding of the problem. I seriously doubt though if liberals will change any time soon and that's the real problem for Romney. If we're all lucky enough to see the Obama reign of terror ended this year, President Romney will be subjected to unrelenting pressure from attacks just like this one for the next four years. If he caves in and releases his tax returns, the liberals will smell blood in the water. They'll realize that he can be beat down, that he'll give in if they can just keep pouring on the fire. And considering the magnitude of the problems we face, we need a leader strong enough to stand up for his beliefs and fight for what he thinks is right.
So far, Romney's response to the controversy has not been encouraging. A few days ago, he disclosed that his federal tax rate was at least 13% for the past ten years. This revelation shows that the attacks are affecting him and he's trying to mollify the liberals. Ann Romney's response to this controversy is that they aren't releasing the tax returns because it would just give the Democrats more fuel to use in attacking her husband. This argument is inherently weak because the obvious response is that Romney must be hiding something. Even Harry Reid was smart enough to figure that out.
The time has arrived for Romney to take a stand and explain clearly and forcefully why he is not going to release his tax returns. One such explanation would be that his tax returns are private, there's no public interest served in their disclosure, and he's not going to discuss the matter further. The reasons for his lack of this voluntary disclosure are not as important as Romney proving he will not be intimidated by petty liberal attacks. Some conservatives, such as George Will, have criticized Romney for not releasing his returns, speculating that there is damaging information contained within these filings. To such friendly critics Romney's stance may seem unreasonable but what they are missing is sometimes a leader has to take strong positions, even unreasonable ones, in order to achieve their goals. This controversy has dragged on for such a long time that now it is less about the disclosure of these tax returns and more directly a test of the ability of liberals to influence Romney's actions.