Rep. Nancy Pelosi was emphatic. Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal tax returns, she said, makes him unfit to win confirmation as a member of the president’s Cabinet, let alone to hold the high office himself.
Sen. Harry Reid went farther: Romney’s refusal to make public more of his tax records makes him unfit to be a dogcatcher.
They do not, however, think that standard of transparency should apply to them. The two Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives are among hundreds of senators and representatives from both parties who refused to release their tax records. Just 17 out of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities in response to requests from McClatchy over the last three months. Another 19 replied that they wouldn’t release the information, and the remainder never responded to the query.
The widespread secrecy in one branch of the government suggests a self-imposed double standard. Yet while American politics has come to expect candidates for the presidency to release their tax returns, the president isn’t alone in having a say over the nation’s tax laws. Congress also stands to gain or lose by the very tax policies it enacts, and tax records – more than any broad financial disclosure rules now in place – offer the chance to see whether the leaders of the government stand to benefit from their own actions.
To Pelosi and some other top Democrats, the focus is on Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, who’s released his 2010 return and 2011 estimates and plans to release his 2011 return when it’s completed, but refuses to release any more. They say the very refusal to release more suggests that he’s hiding something.
“He could not even become a Cabinet member for that lack of disclosure, and now with that lack of disclosure he wants to be president of the United States,” said Pelosi, the House minority leader, who’s from California.
“We’d like to know what’s in those tax returns that he refuses to show to the American public. Did he pay any taxes?” Reid asked in an impassioned speech to the Senate on July 11. Days later, Reid, who’s from Nevada, suggested that Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns would make him ineligible to serve even as dogcatcher.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, also has harangued Romney for refusing to release more tax returns, calling it a “penchant for secrecy.”
All three refused repeated requests from McClatchy to release their own returns, requests that started before the flap over Romney’s records.
What are they hiding???
Seriously, that would be some useful information. Imagine if you could review a congressman’s taxes from before they took office until now. Congressional spouses should be fair game too. I wonder how many congressional spouses got high-paying new jobs or promotions when their significant other got elected?
Like Michelle Obama, for example.