Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, and Income Taxes!

Dear Commons Community,

Mitt Romney is not having the best of weeks on the presidential campaign trail.  President Barack Obama has been hammering away at him for outsourcing jobs while at Bain Capital.  Romney denies this and has indicated that he was not in the employ of Bain when jobs were supposedly outsourced.  Today two New York Times columnists (Gail Collins and Charles Blow) are trying to analyze these issues and both come up on the side that Romney is either hiding something or he is fudging the truth.

First, Collins on Bain Capital:

“Let’s see if we can get this straight. In 1999, Mitt Romney quit his hypersuccessful financial career at the private-equity firm in order to run the troubled Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. “I would walk away from my leadership at Bain Capital at the height of its profitability and take a position without compensation,” he wrote in his book “Turnaround…”

Romney gave five network television interviews on the subject on Friday. While it was true that a bunch of Securities and Exchange Commission filings submitted into the new millennium described Romney as Bain Capital’s boss, that was a technicality, he told CNN.

Well, actually, he said, “I was the owner of an entity that is filing that information.” Also that there’s a difference between an owner and “a person who’s running an entity…”

In the period between 1999 and 2002, Bain Capital engaged in a certain amount of activity along the steel-mill-closing, toymaker-killing, job-exporting lines. But Romney says he wasn’t responsible because he had walked away.   Sort of. While he was in Utah getting the luge runs [working on the Olympics] in shape, Romney was also still getting a six-figure salary for being a Bain “executive.” Perhaps for Mitt, that was just the going-away equivalent of a monogrammed briefcase. Although it does sort of take the steam out of his principled refusal to accept any money from the Olympics until his turnaround was successfully completed.

So to summarize: Romney was at Bain after 1999, but not necessarily in the sense of occupying physical space. He was employed by folks in Utah, but not in the sense of the people who made out his paycheck.

If we ever manage to really get our heads around Higgs boson, perhaps we will also be able to understand the Mitt Romney Olympics period.”

Charles Blow after reviewing a bit more briefly the Bain connection focuses on the issue that all of this could be cleared up if Romney would just release his income tax returns to show the source of his earnings.  Blow does not hold back:

“Romney has only released a complete return for 2010 and an unfinished estimate for 2011. This is less than any other presidential candidate in recent history. As The Times put it in a scathing editorial this week, “what information he did release provides a fuzzy glimpse at a concerted effort to park much of his wealth in overseas tax shelters, suggesting a widespread pattern of tax avoidance unlike that of any previous candidate.”

Blind trusts, Swiss bank accounts and Bermuda accounts designed to shield your money from the taxing agency of the country you want to lead just doesn’t sound right. And Romney’s reluctance to reveal more suggests that there is more that’s distasteful… Romney’s tax return defense is that, “all the taxes are paid, as appropriate.” Propriety is a matter of perspective.

My [Charles Blow] mother used to say: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.” The simple truth makes sense, stands on its own and can be proved. Nine times out of 10, things that require constant clarification and endless appending aren’t the simple truth.

That’s mother’s wit, and everyone has a mother.”

Romney, Bain Capital and his tax returns are not going away anytime soon.




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