My Turn: The case for Romney to release his tax returns

  • Posted: Monday, September 3, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, September 3, 2012 11:26 a.m.

By Mary James
Mitt Romney and his supporters say there are so many more important things to focus on than his tax returns. Like the economy and jobs. I agree — the economy and jobs ARE important. But here’s why I feel the two issues go together. And why they tell me whether Romney has the knowledge, vision or passion to fix the economy and create jobs.
I could not be a bigger believer in capitalism, private enterprise and individual initiative. Heck, my dad stood on those principles when he was Barry Goldwater’s vice presidential running mate in 1964. I believe Mitt Romney embodies those principles. In spades. I applaud him for that. I do not begrudge his wealth. (I wish I had it!) What disappoints me is the lack of evidence that he has ever translated those principles into helping the rest of us. And this is critical, in my view, to running the country.
Romney’s tax returns would at least tell us where his money goes. And that, to me, is not a frivolous issue. It says everything about a person, goes to the heart of what’s important to him, what he values. It seems this should be especially significant for a man who wants to be my president.
Absent those returns, we know a couple things. He tithes 10 percent to his Mormon Church. This must be a sizeable amount. Though I’ve never heard that Mormons — who comprise 1.7 percent of the American population — are particularly needy, no one could criticize his supporting his church.
He says he gives lots to charity. That’s great, but where’s the proof? And how does this “charitable giving” help the economy? Perhaps it does, but we don’t know.
We also know he shelters large portions of his vast wealth overseas. This is what troubles me most, and strikes me as somehow un-American, for a man who claims to believe so much in America and has wanted to lead it for so long. It’s also ironic, in my view, in light of the fact that Romney and Republicans constantly imply that Barack Obama is not quite “American” enough. Why doesn’t Romney invest this money here at home? God knows there’s no end to worthwhile opportunities.
I’m not an economist, but I do know private companies don’t hire people out of the goodness of their hearts. Why should they? They hire when they have customers, when they have people with enough disposable income to buy their products; when product demand increases, companies hire more employees to meet it. And that’s the way it should be.
This is why, in poor economic times, government has traditionally been the employer of last resort. But if you don’t like government creating jobs, and you want the private sector to do it, as Romney does, why hasn’t he done more of it himself over the years?
It rings hollow to me to hear his vague talk about corporate tax cuts and regulation reduction as ways to stimulate the economy. Why hasn’t Romney put his money in American banks? Wouldn’t that provide them a greater financial cushion to lend more money to entrepreneurs, or give beleaguered homeowners a bigger break in mortgage re-financing? Why isn’t there a Mitt & Ann Romney Foundation that gives money to any number of worthy organizations, as, for example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does? Why hasn’t he invested in job retraining programs for the millions of hurting folks whose only skills can no longer be used in fields that have gone away? Why hasn’t he established an education fund to give scholarships to qualifying young people who’d love to go to college but can’t afford it? Perhaps he has done all of this and more, but his tax returns would prove it. Why is he not willing to trumpet them?
Romney has shown me he knows very well how to make money for himself. Lots of it. He has not shown me that he knows how to create a better economy for the rest of the country, or that he even has the passion to care.
Mary James lives in Salisbury. Her father, William Miller, was Barry Goldwater’s running mate in 1964.
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