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Friday, August 3, 2012

Anonymous CNN Source Says Harry Reid's Anonymous Romney Tax Source Is a Good Source

Posted by on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 10:27 AM

This is getting delightfully convoluted:

A second source, said to be "close to Senator [Harry] Reid," has told CNN's Dana Bash that Reid's original source for the claim that Mitt Romney "didn't pay any taxes for 10 years" exists, is a "Bain investor" and a "credible person."

They're having a hard time keeping up at Daily Kos. I wonder if Romney will tell CNN to "put up or shut up," too. Apparently, this is Reid's plan: Build a case against Romney on the word of an anonymous source, and then back the story up with an army of anonymous sources. It'll keep the story alive for another day into the weekend, and now the Sunday news shows will spend the bulk of their time talking about whether or not Mitt Romney paid taxes for a decade. It's nasty, effective politicking, and it appears to be working. Romney still won't release his taxes, so he looks ineffective, creepy, and secretive.

Let's just allow ourselves to imagine for a moment that this story is true, and think about the implications of that. If this story is true, that would mean that not only did Romney not pay taxes for a decade, but it would mean that he was bragging about not paying his taxes for a decade. Would that help him or hurt him with the Republican base? I honestly have no idea, but I know how it would play with independents.

(Thanks to Slog tipper Joe, who writes, "Uh oh. All aboard the Cain Train?")


Comments (31) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
While stiffing the United States, he was, according to Ann, giving at least 10% of his income to the Mormon Church. Faith before country is a popular idea among Republicans, but I'd like to see them try to spin it when the faith is Mormonism and the contrast is so stark.
Posted by Erica Tarrant on August 3, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Or it could backfire. Suppose that Rmoney finally does bow to pressure and release X years of returns that show he DID pay taxes? Then the narrative becomes "the Dems are liars!" instead of "Holy shit, look how much that bastard made and what a small percentage he paid on it."

Hopefully Ried has thought of this and has a good source who is not actually a Bain patriot who is setting him up for fall.
Posted by WFM on August 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 3
Please!...please bring back Herman Cain. More Pokemon songs! *toot toot!*

More surreal hilariousness...and less creepy "invasion of the body snatchers".
Posted by ArtBasketSara on August 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
why is this "nasty"?

reporters use anonymous sources all the time, and reid is saying "someone told me this" not "I personally know this is true."

truly nasty comments also would be defamation. i don't see romney suing for defamation. truth is a defense to a defamation charge.
Posted by also huuugeass 401K on August 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
Was anyone in the McCain campaign a Bain investor?
Posted by searunner on August 3, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
"It's nasty, effective politicking,"

Romney brought it upon himself. When you hold back on such a simple piece of information for this long, you invite all manner of hearsay to take its place. The best antidote to rumor is exposition.

In other words, the floodgates are going to open anyway, no reason why your opponents shouldn't swim in the pool that you basically dug for them.

The only hope for Romney is that he finally shows his tax returns and there's nothing there, or even better (for him), hundreds of thousands of charitable deductions that explain away his lack of tax payments. He lets the chatter over his taxes increase to a violent roar, and then he exterminates it all in one fell swoop.

Frankly, it sounds like exactly the sort of thing a lesson-teaching moralist would do. If you want to cut a lot of hair, you want to wait for it to get long before you cut. The more "hair" (angry rumor) Romney cuts in one swoop, the longer his "hair" will stay short. And everyone insisting he has a toupee looks like fools.
Posted by K on August 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Minor quibble: there is a difference between "not paying taxes" and "not paying HIS taxes". The first implies there were no taxes to pay; the second implies that he was legally required to pay taxes but didn't. I think everyone agrees we're talking about the first scenario.

My guess is that the next semantic game they're going to play is talking about how of COURSE he paid taxes: he paid sales taxes and gasoline taxes and property taxes...
Posted by Big Adventure Steve on August 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
Is it just me or is anyone else amused by the fact the CNN reporter running with this is named Bash?

I'm sticking with my original position, if and when Romney finally release 10 years worth of returns they'll show his effective tax rate as under 10% for most years and maybe under 5% for a few. Nothing illegal, but there will very likely be some questionable valuations placed on investments shifted into IRAs and the Trusts for his kids.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on August 3, 2012 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Can't some IRS employee or hacker break a law or three and get his tax information out to the media?
Posted by Subdued Excitement on August 3, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 10
Although "a little bird told me" is hardly a credible source (or in any way not sleazy Rovian politics), this whole story is just too delicious, and the fact that Romney still won't release his records is telling. If he could prove Reid wrong, he would and should. Reid is one of the GOP's top targets for discrediting, and making a fool of him over this rumor mongering would be the easiest way to do it.

And yet... still no tax records.
Posted by MacCrocodile on August 3, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
This story isn't about the exact percentage that Romney paid in his taxes. If and when he is finally forced to release his returns, we'll all see that he paid some obscenely low tax rate (whether that's 10% or 5% or 2%, doesn't matter (unless it really is 0 and then it's a whole new ballgame)).

Mitt Romney's tax returns are the catalyst that could turn the entire political discourse to the (un)fairness of the current tax system. They will be poison to the Republicans' constant message of cutting taxes. They will illustrate the insanity of giving the plutocrats a pass on funding our country while Romney's own tax plan is to raise taxes on the middle class.

tl/dr: The Republicans are about to nominate a candidate who could personally destroy their 3 decade long campaign to defund the federal government.
Posted by MR M on August 3, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 12
The simple fact is that absolutely nobody gives a shit about Romney's tax returns. The people who will vote for him aren't voting for Romney; they're voting against Obama.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on August 3, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
wisepunk 13
@Machiavelli was framed thanks for all of the great comments this week, I find most everything you've typed lately has been topical and cogent.

What the hell are you doing on SLOG?
Posted by wisepunk on August 3, 2012 at 11:18 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 14
Yeah, if you're politically hosed by a total limp-dick like Harry Reid, you might as well just start the concession speech.

Rmoney must not have anything bigger than a light switch between his legs, jus' sayin.'
Posted by Original Andrew on August 3, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
OuterCow 15
@12 What definition of "absolutely nobody" are you using, 5280? Cuz' I sure ain't familiar with it.
Posted by OuterCow on August 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
LaPuerta 16
I'm convinced he got refunds. They could be perfectly legal, loop-hole-taking-advantage-of-refunds, but no one will like it. If he had just paid 10%, which "were all the taxes he was obligated to pay for by law" I think he would have released them.
Posted by LaPuerta on August 3, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 17
@12: and they generally have no cogent rationale for that choice. obama's done as well as anyone could have with the pile of shit he got handed. & no, fast and furious or extrajudicial drone assassinations is not why they're against obama.

this entire thing keeps the rmoney campaign on its heels, appearing defensive, whinging, and petulant, and that's the point.

remember, mitt hasn't even released ALL of the ONE year he did provide, and 2011's just an "estimate". but if/when "independent" flibberdigibbets and blue collar GOP voters see a rich fuck like willard getting away with legal murder on his taxes while they're paying 25%, 30% like a bunch of schmucks, they sure as shit will give a fuck as @11 contends.

Posted by Max Solomon on August 3, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this

It has more to do with the Republican talking point that half of all people don't pay taxes. They hammer this point home all the time. They insinuate that the people who aren't paying taxes are the poor freeloaders who are voting for Democrats and talking money away from the hardworking tax paying people.

Now this is all a fantasy. Most of the people not paying taxes are either super poor, old retirees, or the super rich. But as long as no one can see all the returns their fantasy can continue to live. But as soon as people see Romney paid no taxes, it's hard to use that as a talking point.
Posted by arbeck on August 3, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is

He ain't gonna let those two escape justice

He makes his living off other people's taxes…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Considering how much money Rmoney has stuffed into off-shore tax havens, that's not an inappropriate reference...
Posted by COMTE on August 3, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
During the primaries all of Romney's opponents said that his refusal to release his tax returns would let the Democrats run roughshod over him in the general election. They must be pretty bad or he would have gotten it over with then.
Posted by bitwise on August 3, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Cascadian 22
5280 @12, an election is always a choice, not a referendum. The alternative to Obama isn't nothing, or some idealized opposition candidate. The alternative is Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign is doing a good job of pointing out that this election is a choice, and that President Obama is clearly superior to the alternative.
Posted by Cascadian on August 3, 2012 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 23
5280 is right in one regard; republicans will vote for Romney no matter what. Romney could be revealed as a child molesting hitler fanatic and the republicans would still vote for him. Same with the dems and Obama. I don't care who the dem candidate is, it could be a goat, I'd still vote democrat. I vote for the message, not the messenger. Republicans likely do the same.

However, there definitely are some people out there who either A) really do vote for different parties or, B) don't vote at all unless they feel really strongly.

I think both parties try to get those non-voters to either feel really happy about them (to get their vote) or really unhappy about the opponent (to get them to not vote at all).

That's where romney's tax returns can make a difference.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM · Report this
I'm sure Rmoney will try to justify paying no or very little income tax based on the perfectly legal "charitable deductions" he made - though most of the deductions will probably be more self-serving and/or agenda-driven than altruistically "charitable."

The one that'll most likely hurt him is paying a larger percentage of his income to his church than his country. I'll bet he 'rendered unto god that which is gods' and then said "screw you, Ceaser."

The other possibility is that he DIDN'T tith as much as he was supposed to - though if he were going to lie to the church, he'd certainly lie to the IRS as well.
Posted by SuperSteve on August 3, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 25
Maybe he really did pay a normal amount of taxes, but he's refusing to release his returns to convince the Republican base that he didn't and therefore is a free enterprise capitalist genius.

After a couple months of whipping up the base with this, he'll release them and everyone will calm down, and it will bring the independents back.

Just kidding.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
DavidC 26
My theories:

1. He really didn't tithe the full 10% and wants to hide his taxes fro the Mormon church

2. The Bain investor is a mole and they are trying to do the Overton Window thing where the story becomes he paid nothing when the reality is he paid 10% and thus its not his low tax rate that's the story - just that the Democrats were spreading false rumours.
Posted by DavidC on August 3, 2012 at 1:14 PM · Report this
@26 The Mo church is much better than the IRS at collecting what they feel they are due. I had a friend who was out of work, going to school, and about to lose his house. He asked for a break from his tithing and was refused, When he was unable to pay, he was ostracized by the people in his ward and felt horrific guilt every time the bishop and other elders made home visits. Luckily he got a job in Michigan and did not give his new address to the church.
Posted by StuckInUtah on August 3, 2012 at 1:26 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 28

Regarding theory number 2, it doesn't matter if he paid 10% or nothing. The fact is is that he pays a lot less in taxes than the average American.

And the more people are reminded of that fact the less likely he is to get elected.
Posted by passionate_jus on August 3, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
@9 I keep seeing this story that Anonymous *did* hack the IRS and found Romney paid less than $500 in 2008.
Either the source is a joke news site and I don't know it, or Slog/the Stranger is waiting for some kind of confirmation?
Posted by bobbie-sue on August 3, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
So, one of Reid's flunkies went to CNN and said - anonymously! - that's Reid's anonymous source is credible and they just bought it?

If this flunky knew who the anonymous source was, couldn't he have shared it with Dana Bash - who can obviously be trusted to keep anonymous sources anonymous - and let her figure out whether the guy is credible?

I'm not buying it. Until someone impartial finds out who the original source is and deems him credible, I'm going to assume Reid is playing dirty politics. But I don't really blame him, because c'est la guerre, and the Republicans do worse all the time. Also, Romney's reaction is quite revealing - whatever's in there must be REALLY bad if it still looks bad when compared to the insinuation that he paid nothing for a decade.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on August 3, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
lauramae 31
There are various filing options that very well let rich fucks write off depreciation and other virtual losses as if they are real. It is perfectly legal and usually out of the minds of most of us who would never have enough resources to take advantage of those write offs. It becomes more real when it is the presidential candidate, I'm guessing. Maybe it is all just too much and people will gloss over it just assuming that such absurdity cannot be true in "America."

When I was a college financial aid counselor, I was amazed to run across the tax returns of some very well-off families who had enough exemptions to have an adjusted gross income of zero. Of course, it wasn't because they REALLY didn't have money or resources or million dollar homes. It was only because the tax code allows this sort of bull shit. Those families qualified for maximum financial aid.

I didn't run across it very often, maybe 1 or 2 times a year. I think most families in that situation knew they didn't need the grants to send their kid to college. But there's always a few assholes that are going to go for it.

My guess is that Romney had enough tax shelters and write offs that he managed to report a zero AGI and doesn't want people to know how very unlike an American Romney really is.
Posted by lauramae on August 4, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this

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