Donald Trump joined the birthers and demanded that President Obama show his birth certificate to prove his U.S. citizenship. Trump repeatedly called on the president to produce his papers. Where’s Donald Trump when you need him to demand that Mitt Romney produce a sufficient number of past tax returns? So far, Romney and Trump are silent on the tax return issue. Romney has produced one tax year-2010 and estimates of his taxes for 2011. That’s hardly a sufficient amount of tax returns for someone who is running for President of the U.S. Producing tax returns is not a requirement but being transparent should be a requirement.
Republicans are good at asking persons for their papers but are bad when it comes to showing their papers. Republican lawmakers across the country have enacted voter ID laws in over half the states requiring citizens to produce some form of government issued ID in order to vote. Every citizen in a state requiring voter ID must produce one. Alabama and Arizona under Republican lawmakers passed strict immigration laws that require those suspected of being illegal immigrants to show their papers. Yet, when it comes to Mitt Romney producing his papers, his tax returns, he flat out refuses.
Even some Republicans are joining on the side that Romney should produce his papers. Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman Michael Steele and Alabama governor Robert Bentley have called on Romney to produce his tax returns to show “total transparency.” Alabama GOP governor Bentley said “If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong.” “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Obama administration White House chief of staff, states that Romney released 23 years of returns to the John McCain campaign when he was being vetted for vice president. Now that he’s running for president, he will only release one year. Like Donald Trump said about President Obama’s birth certificate, there’s something on it, he doesn’t like. There was nothing on the President Obama’s birth certificate that he didn’t like. But there’s probably something on Romney’s tax returns that he doesn’t like.
There is no requirement that a presidential candidate release his tax returns. Ironically the first presidential candidate to release tax returns was George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father for the 1968 election. George Romney produced more than a decade of tax returns. In late March, 2008, then Democratic candidate Barack Obama released 6 years of his tax returns from 2000-2006. In December, 2011, Mitt Romney said he might release his returns in April, 2012, if he became the nominee. Well April has come and gone. During the 2008 campaign year, Romney did not publicly release his tax returns. There have been former presidential candidates who did not release any tax returns. However, they did not become president. Past presidents since 1964 have disclosed their tax returns.
Being in the 1% elitist and having off shore accounts is one reason for Romney to show his tax returns. Everyone knows that Mitt Romney is wealthy. In a sense of transparency, his release of tax returns would show that he’s not above the former presidential candidates, including his father, who released their tax returns. By not releasing the returns, it shows a sense of arrogance and privilege. It also brings back the issue of what doesn’t he want us to see. If citizens are required to produce voter ID to prevent fraud, shouldn’t Romney release his tax returns to prevent committing a fraud on the American people? Where is Donald Trump when you need him to demand that Mitt’s papers be produced?
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.