Mitt Digs In Deeper

I have no idea who is advising Mitt Romney on how to handle questions about his history of paying or not paying taxes. But whoever it is should probably get fired.

Perhaps Harry Reid’s taunts about hearing from a reliable source that Romney stiffed Uncle Sam entirely over the last decade had an impact after all. Otherwise why would he go out of his way to let it be known he paid “no less” than a 13% tax rate during the years for which he is refusing to release his returns?

I mean, 13% is not a high rate for a guy with Mitt’s wealth; certainly nothing approaching the allegedly confiscatory rates the poor job-creators of America are toiling under, making them wonder each and every day if it’s time to Go Gault. And the number raises the rather obvious question: 13% of what? Total income? Adjusted Gross Income? Taxable income? Ezra Klein suggests it may be that last measurement, which may be the only one under which he can claim a double-digit tax burden.

If he intends to gut it out and never release his tax returns, he might be better off just saying “It’s none of your damn business, and if I’d done anything wrong, the IRS would have locked me in leg-irons by now.” This drip-drip-drip of undocumented assertions raises a lot more questions than it answers.

Mitt reminds me of a guy I once knew who was asked in a job interview about his religious practices, which were somewhere between non-existent and hey-I-listen-to-Christmas-music! Instead of admitting that, he kept making excuses to the interviewer (who pretty much thought everyone should be forced to go to church weekly) about his busy schedule and good intentions and so on and so forth. He didn’t get the job, but talked about the interview, and soon gained the nickname of “Digger.” Mitt’s a “digger,” too.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.