After months of being taunted on the issue by Democrats and even some of his Republican primary rivals, Mitt Romney is releasing more information on his tax returns this afternoon. The candidate’s 2011 return will be released in full along with a 20-year summary of his tax rates from 1990 through 2009 (he’s already released his 2010 returns). While you can bet this won’t satisfy partisan Democrats who will call for more information, it ought to not only put this issue to rest but give voters another reason to think well of the Republican.
Is it really possible to characterize a man who paid a tax rate of over 14 percent on his income in 2011 a cheat? Even more to the point, Romney gave away to charity double — $4,020,072 — the amount of his very hefty $1,935,708 tax bill in 2011. And since it is almost completely investment income, it needs to be pointed out that Romney had already paid tax on the money when it was first earned. Over the 20-year period, he paid an average of 20.2 percent in taxes and gave away 13.45 percent to charity.
This paints a picture of a man who is not only paying his fair share of taxes, but is also a model of civic virtue in his dedication to sharing his bounty with those who are less fortunate. That’s especially true when we realize that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden have ever given anywhere close to that percentage of their incomes to charity. The release also should give Romney a much-needed shot in the arm after a couple of shaky weeks. Having done their best to demonize Romney as a heartless plutocrat, Democrats have probably made his tax information a much bigger deal than it may have been.
Given that the answers to the questions the Democrats have been posing (and falsely rapping about) for so long actually make Romney look good, you might wonder why his campaign might dump this information to the press on a Friday afternoon, a time that is usually reserved for releasing bad news that will be swallowed up by the weekend and forgotten by Monday. But given the way things have been going for Romney lately, any opportunity to create some positive vibes had to be seized immediately.
A week that began with the Romney campaign playing defense on his 47 percent video gaffe can at least end by his showing the country that prominent Democrats like Senator Harry Reid have been lying about the Republican standard-bearer not paying taxes. Perhaps now that this is settled, Romney can go back on the offensive against the president rather than spinning his wheels explaining a foolish statement.