Romney should just release his tax returns

Yes, Gov. Romney, that subtitle to my memoir concerning the rules we learned the hard way at the Clinton White House in 1996-98 about getting the truth out yourself proactively, even if it is a bad-news story, applies to you and the issue of your tax returns.

It applies to everyone facing bad news — in business, politics and life.

The only exception is if putting the facts out can land you in jail. In that case, I recommend forgetting about crisis management rules and relying on the advice of a good criminal lawyer.

If you stay where you are, you are defying history — in both parties. As my favorite source of truth, Glenn Kessler, pointed out in his Monday “Fact-Checker” column for The Washington Post, virtually every other presidential candidate in both parties going back to FDR released many years of tax returns when they ran for president against the incumbent. Why wouldn’t you too?

Here’s what I am betting you are worried about: that your tax returns show you broke the Buffett Rule in some years and, thanks to various legal devices and tax loopholes, you managed to avoid paying more taxes than you were legally required to do.


So, I ask you — after the Obama campaign denounces you for paying lower taxes than your secretary, or using tax loopholes legally, or depositing your money legally in Swiss bank accounts, or in Cayman Islands bank accounts, or storing your cash under your bed, or whatever, my question to you, to your campaign manager, to everyone, including my fellow liberal, Obama-supporting Democrats, is:


Let’s assume the possible worst case (which I must assume is at least partially true, or why else are you violating Crisis Management Rule 101?):

Let’s assume you paid NO taxes in some years, or got a REFUND in others, on hundreds of millions of dollars of income, taking advantage of all the loopholes, deductions, write-offs, tax shelters, etc. — but again, ALL LEGALLY.

My question again — knowing that my fellow liberal supporters of President Obama (and maybe I too!) will make fun of you, mock you, accuse you of being wealthy and not paying your “fair share” (a favorite expression of us progressives, who don’t like wealthy people paying too little in taxes, albeit legally), my question still is —


Ultimately, you have to believe — you just have to — that the American people have common sense and can see through hypocrisy and humbug in politics.

And what would be hypocrisy and humbug? When (not if) we liberals (and President Obama’s campaign) make a big deal in the media and in paid negative ads out of someone choosing not to voluntarily pay more in taxes than he was legally required to.