Commentary Magazine


Reid: Romney Needs to Prove He Paid Taxes

Sen. Harry Reid’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s tax history are becoming increasingly shrill and outlandish. On Wednesday, he doubled down on his claim that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years, telling reporters that “a number of people” have told him that Romney was a long-time tax cheat. The Senate majority leader probably thought his claims would be enough to pressure Romney into releasing additional tax returns — instead, Reid is looking more and more like a joke:

On Wednesday, Reid stuck to his story, and broadened it.

“I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. “I have had a number of people tell me that.”

Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.”

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” Reid said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

Actually, that’s not how these things work. Reid is the one making the accusations, and he should provide at least some shred of evidence that his claims weren’t completely fabricated — something more than just his word that he’s “not basing this on some figment of my imagination.” Why should the burden of proof be on Romney to show that Reid’s completely unsourced allegations are false? If Reid has talked to a number of people about this, why haven’t any of them gone to the media? Why is Reid the first person we’re hearing this from?

Amazingly, after telling a huddle of reporters that he couldn’t reveal any of his sources, Reid insisted that they begin poking around in Romney’s financial history and write stories about the tax accusations:

Reid challenged the media to be more aggressive in digging into Romney’s finances.

“What if he has paid no taxes, like I am saying he hasn’t,” Reid said. “What if he has all these moneys as we already know … in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Swiss banks. I mean, gee whiz, rather than ask me why I should do this, that is a story you should be writing.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is apparently used to Reid’s outbursts, concluded that “If nothing else, Reid’s remarks could be entered onto a list of other head-turning comments he has made over the years, including calling President George W. Bush a liar and a ‘loser’ on separate occasions.” Very true — this isn’t the first time Reid has taken attacks on Republican candidates too far. At least in this instance it doesn’t seem like the press is taking him very seriously.