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Reid Quadruples and Quintuples Down on Romney Tax Return Comments

I don’t have a whole lot to add to this whole Harry Reid/Mitt Romney tax returns conversation outside of Mr. Bogg’s assessment. The liberal squishes deeply concerned with Reid “playing dirty” are sadly typical, but it’s not going to change Reid’s position. He released a statement last night quadrupling down on the allegation:

There is a controversy because the Republican presidential nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, refuses to release his tax returns. As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Last weekend, Governor Romney promised that he would check his tax returns and let the American people know whether he ever paid a rate lower than 13.9 percent. One day later, his campaign raced to say he had no intention of putting out any further information.

When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it’s his obligation to put up, and release several years’ worth of tax returns just like nominees of both parties have done for decades.

Exactly what’s anyone on the right going to do to Harry Reid? Threaten to run Sharron Angle against him in four years?

The Romney campaign will go for a media play, attempting to rain down criticism on Reid for “crossing the line.” They’ll get some people who play liberals on TV to play along. It fundamentally won’t matter. The public knows that this can go away simply by Romney releasing his tax returns, and that will be the ready answer every time the outrage-fest bubbles up. And some Republicans understand this.

GOP Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said Thursday that Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns could hurt him in the presidential election.

“I don’t think this will go away,” Jones told The Hill. “And if we’re still talking about this in September, he’s in deep trouble.”

In yet ANOTHER comment (quintupling down?), Reid welcomed Romney to Nevada by reiterating that he couldn’t be confirmed by the Senate to a Presidential appointment without releasing more tax returns, adding that “The contents of the one year of returns he has released would probably be enough to tank his nomination anyway: secret overseas bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, tax avoidance tricks and a lower tax rate than middle-class families pay.” He also connected the tax plan Romney has put out, the subject of a damning Tax Policy Center report this week, to the tax returns issue. Not only is the very rich Romney hiding his tax exposure, he’s planning as President to make millionaires pay less and the middle class pay more. “In short, Romney’s message to Nevadans is this: he won’t release his taxes, but he wants to raise yours.” That’s a winning slogan.

My final point is, and I’ve said this before, you can stop talking about Democrats being “weak.” They know how to play politics; none of them got into office as idealistic rubes. They can be tough. They can play dirty. They just don’t want to do that for things like genuine universal health care or increasing Social Security benefits or protecting the climate or ensuring workers’ rights to collective bargaining. When it’s about getting their guy re-elected, sure they’ll get tough. Just not on, you know, liberal policy, which isn’t really their main focus.

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David Dayen

David Dayen