OPINION: Horse trading: Swap taxes for transcripts
04.24.12 | Daily Inter Lake
April 22–President Obama and the elves cobbling together his re-election campaign in the basement of the White House annex in Chicago have challenged GOP candidate Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
It would make a great melodrama, wouldn’t it? With Romney playing the role of villainous Snidely Whiplash and the oh so prim and proper Barack Obama performing the part of Dudley Do-Right, the script could write itself. The part of the love interest, Nell, would be played by the unreleased tax records.
“Unhand those tax returns, Snidely! And put down the White-out!”
It almost seems surreal. After all, Romney did already make public his 2010 tax return, and even an estimate of his 2011 taxes, which thanks to the complexity of being a multi-millionaire are not quite ready to be sent to the IRS yet.
Now, that’s a problem I would pay to have!
If President Obama just wanted to prove that Mitt Romney is richer than him, he could already have done that. According to the 2010 tax returns released by both men, President Obama made $1,795,614 while Mitt Romney made $21,646,507, meaning they both comfortably sailed into the “1 percent zone” — which further means that 99 percent of us are envious of their big bucks.
I get that, and I get the fact that President Obama can make some people think that Mitt Romney made “too much” money because some people are “socialists” who believe in “redistribution of wealth.” But those people are already going to vote for Obama anyway, so what’s the point of playing this out till November?
Some politicos say it is because Mitt Romney paid a lower tax rate than Barack Obama. You know what? Who cares? They both followed the law, and paid what they were supposed to pay. Did Mitt Romney write the tax code? No. Would we think he would be a better president if he were so stupid that he paid twice as much in taxes as he was legally required to do? Um, I hope not. Even Warren Buffet is smart enough not to pay taxes he doesn’t owe!
So this whole thing is a phony issue. I have no idea when the press became so powerful that journalists could demand to see private documents held by candidates. But basically what we are dealing with now is a national media monster that feeds on digging up anything that can be spun into a scandal, particularly but not exclusively if the scandal reflects badly on conservatives.
And we’ve got candidates who enjoy throwing doggy biscuits at the press to whet their appetite for scandal. I mean I can hardly believe the next bit I am about to report to you, but hey, it was in the Washington Post, so it must be true, right?
Turns out that Barack Obama — yes, PRESIDENT Barack Obama — sent out three messages from his personal Twitter account in early April challenging Mitt Romney to come clean with his financial records. The last Tweet in particular said #WhatsRomneyHiding.”
It is hard to find irony any deeper or richer than that! This president really thinks he can make transparency an issue? For four years now, reporters have been asking the president to release his college transcripts, and they have been met with nothing but the stony silence of “I don’t have to.”
Now, think about it. What’s more likely to reflect on one’s performance as president — How much money you made? Or how good a student you were? Don’t mean to offend anyone, but lots of folks make piles of money without being very smart. On the other hand, if President Obama was getting straight A’s at Columbia University and Harvard Law School, then that would suggest he is a problem solver who knows how to use the old noodle.
So Mr. Romney ought to double down on the president’s challenge: “I’ll see your tax returns, and I’ll raise you three college transcripts!”
Romney can make a big show out of releasing his transcripts from Stanford, Brigham Young University, Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Then challenge the president to release his transcripts from Occidental College, Columbia and Harvard Law, including grades, financial aid received and anything else that might shed light on his background.
After that, get the old Twitter account warmed up, and start sending out the snide tweets patterned after the president’s own insults, ending with #WhatsObamaHiding.
No, there’s really no reason why candidates or presidents should have to release their college transcripts, any more than tax returns. But that didn’t stop people from demanding to see George W. Bush’s transcripts. He finally released his, and it turned out that he was an average student — as in “C average.”
We already know that Barack Obama didn’t make as much money as Mitt Romney. But what we don’t know is whether he is smarter than George Bush. Inquiring minds want to know.