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Ear to the Ground

Krugman: What Is Wealthy Mitt Hiding?

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Posted on Jul 9, 2012
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“Like father, like son” the old saying goes. But according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s latest Op-Ed, Mitt Romney is nothing like George Romney, at least as far as wealth and the disclosure of it are concerned.

George Romney, a former governor of Michigan, made his fortune by running an auto company. Unlike his son, he believed in financial transparency, releasing not one but 12 years’ worth of tax returns. Through those records, we know that the elder Romney paid quite a bit in taxes—about 37 percent during that time period. And unlike his son, George largely avoided the tax loopholes afforded the rich in this country.

Now, if you take the opposite of what George did in terms of disclosing his finances, you have his son.

The younger Romney so far has released only one of his tax returns—and grudgingly at that—which revealed that he paid a ridiculously low tax rate that year. That’s because, unlike his daddy, Mitt seems to be trying to take advantage of every single tax loophole he can. Multimillion dollar Swiss bank account? Check. Tens of millions invested in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven? Check. An individual retirement account, which is supposed to be, as Krugman put it, a “tax-advantaged vehicle for middle-class savers”? Check.

All of this is quite disconcerting to Krugman, who questions what Romney is really hiding beneath all his money and secrecy and believes it points to something bad for many Americans. 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom

Paul Krugman in The New York Times:

This refusal to come clean suggests that he and his advisers believe that voters would be less likely to support him if they knew the truth about his investments.

And that is precisely why voters have a right to know that truth. Elections are, after all, in part about the perceived character of the candidates — and what a man does with his money is surely a major clue to his character.

One more thing: To the extent that Mr. Romney has a coherent policy agenda, it involves cutting tax rates on the very rich — which are already, as I said, down by about half since his father’s time. Surely a man advocating such policies has a special obligation to level with voters about the extent to which he would personally benefit from the policies he advocates.

Yet obviously that’s something Mr. Romney doesn’t want to do. And unless he does reveal the truth about his investments, we can only assume that he’s hiding something seriously damaging.

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