In July, Mitt Romney told ABC News' David Muir that he'd be "happy to go back and look" at his tax returns to see if, as Muir asked, he had ever paid less than the 13.9 percent tax rate he reported in 2010. On Thursday, at the end of a press conference in South Carolina, Romney had his reply: "I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent," he said, calling the "fascination" with his taxes "very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face" in the U.S. Romney then called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) unsubstantiated claim that the GOP presidential candidate paid zero taxes for a decade "totally false," insisting, "I paid taxes every single year." Does this put to rest the recent flap over Romney's taxes, or did he just make things worse for himself?
Yes. He's just digging himself deeper: Romney's 13 percent claim "is woefully unacceptable," and probably just "makes his tax-return troubles worse," says Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog. For starters, unless he forks over his returns, his answer boils down to "trust me," and based on his history of misleading claims, "Romney isn't in a position to say 'trust me'." Also, 13 percent of what? Taxable income? Total income? He doesn't say. Finally, how can a multimillionaire like Romney not get that "13 percent isn't a tax burden worth bragging about"?
"Romney makes his tax-return troubles worse"
Romney at least shifted the debate: Well, 13 percent is better than zero, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. "Romney's answer won't satisfy everyone," but his on-the-record insistence that he has paid at least that much "has changed the game": To keep the no taxes story alive, it's now Reid, Obama, and other Democrats who have to "put up or shut up." And without their own evidence, they're asking the American public to take the "leap" to believing "a major party presidential candidate willingly lied about his financial past." Good luck with that.
"Mitt Romney seeks to shift the tax return debate"
Welcome to the new politics: Romney even addressing the tax issue "is a huge victory for the Obama campaign," says Michael Scherer at TIME, as well as "for all those who believe in smarmy politics." By responding to Reid's "baseless allegation," Romney has guaranteed another round of speculation about what's so damaging in his tax returns. If it seems unfair that Romney has to disprove "absurd accusations," it is. And nobody knows that better than Obama, who has spent his whole presidency battling the same "Show-Me-Your-Papers politics" from the Right.
"Another win for show-me-your-papers politics"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- The best books we read in 2014
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How I lost all my money
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
Subscribe to the Week