Commentary Magazine


DC Gimmickry Is All Romney’s Fault

Seth Mandel wrote this morning regarding the Obama campaign letter to Romney offering not to ask for more if he releases five years’ worth of  tax returns, “What the Obama campaign letter meant, of course, is that they will criticize Romney for whatever they find in those five years of tax returns relentlessly, while their allies ‘outside’ the campaign, like Harry Reid, continue to attack the Romney campaign—uncoordinated, they swear!—for not releasing more.”

Robert Gibbs, Obama campaign senior advisor and former White House press secretary, on Fox News Sunday yesterday morning, confirmed that almost in so many words. He said,

And I think if Mitt Romney proposes to be president of the United States and lead us through tax reform, shouldn’t the American people understand the offshoring and the outsourcing, and the tax havens that he takes advantage of in his tax return and understand how those values would govern the tax reform decisions he might make as president?

I have no doubt that Mitt Romney takes advantage of every one of the deductions, credits, havens, and what-have-yous in the tax code that minimize his tax obligation. So does everyone else, including, surely, Robert Gibbs and Barack Obama. After all, that’s what why Congress put those provisions in the tax code: to be taken advantage of. So what possible use could the Obama campaign have for the specific information except to use it for demagogic purposes and to stir up envy of economic success fairly earned?

Mitt Romney, after all,  has never held a federal job. So how, exactly is he responsible for the special interest tax fiddles with which the tax code is riddled? Isn’t that the fault of Congress, which amends the tax code hundreds, sometimes thousands, of times a year with obscure provisions most of which benefit only the well-connected few?

And why should the corruption of Congress have corrupted Mitt Romney, and “govern his tax reform decisions?” Gibbs here is essentially accusing Romney of a priori misfeasance.