Dear Madame L,
The big question seems to be WHY Mitt Romney won't release any tax returns beyond the one year he's already released and the other one he says he'll release soon.
What's He Hiding?
Madame L, of course, does not know what Mitt Romney is or is not hiding in his past tax returns.
Others have made lots of guesses, including this one. And of course the problems with his hiding his financial information include the following, as enumerated in that article:
"A Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of Americans and 43 percent of Republicans think households with more than $1 million in income should be required to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. A different CNN poll showed 70 percent of voters and 53 percent of Republicans supporting the Buffett Rule. Anything that further highlights the extent of the shenanigans used under current law will further highlight this super-popular aspect of the president's agenda.
"What's more, though traditionally even liberal economists have favored light taxation of capital income, there's something of a backlash against this that Romney personifies quite well. The issue is that though you can certainly construct a model in which you stipulate a sharp distinction between labor income and investment income, in the real world things get fuzzy. A business owner can choose at the margin whether revenue will flow to himself as salary or as profit. A CEO is paid a wage, but paid in large part in the form of equity shares, and in practice is deriving compensation in part from operational control over the enterprise. And through what's known as the "carried interest loophole" hedge fund and private equity managers have contrived to get a large share of their compensation for management classified for tax purposes as capital gains. Normal people probably don't care at all whether Romney's Bain income was in some metaphysical sense really labor income or capital income, but the fact that he and others in his industry are doing this is exactly what a certain swathe of Democratic Party wonks need to point to in order to justify a "Buffett Rule"-style policy."
The only people who know are himself, his wife (and possibly other family members), his various accountants and money managers, and, of course:
John McCain and all the members of McCain's staff who looked at more-than-20-years-worth-of-documents Mitt Romney gave to them in 2008, when he was hoping to get the call to be McCain's vice-presidential running mate.
All of this certainly makes it appear that Mitt Romney agrees with his wife that there's a big distinction between the Romneys and McCains and other rich folk, on the one hand, and all the rest of us, you know, the "you people" of America.
Or maybe it just means that Mitt Romney is hiding something, for instance, more details about exactly how rich he is, or how little he paid in taxes in all those years.
Madame L does not believe and sees no evidence for anyone to believe that Mitt Romney is dishonest on this front. But his refusal to release his tax information makes him look dodgy, at best.