President Harry Truman repeatedly warned, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And in America’s pressure-cooker political arena, circa 2012, that means taking the heat for how much you have — and haven’t — paid in taxes.
Yet the most powerful Democratic legislator in the land has again taxed not just fairness but logic in his absurd critique of the Republican presidential nominee’s taxpaying record.
Early last month, Majority Leader Harry Reid made this unsubstantiated accusation against Mitt Romney from the Senate floor: “The word is out he hasn’t paid taxes for 10 years.”
A few days later, the fifth-term Nevada senator, who has become a multimillionaire while working in public office for the last 44 years, rejected calls that he release any of his own tax returns.
Last Friday, though, Mr. Romney filed — and released — his 2011 tax return. It showed that he and his wife paid $1.94 million in federal income taxes on nearly $13.7 million in income, an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent — slightly higher than the 13.9 percent rate they paid on their 2010 income.
Mr. Romney also released a letter from Pricewaterhouse Coopers accountants, reporting that he and his wife paid an average annual effective federal-income-tax rate of 20.2 percent (and never lower than 13.6 percent) on their incomes from 1990 through 2009.
So did Sen. Reid then apologize for his false accusation?
No. He simply reversed the charge.
In a written statement issued Friday, Sen. Reid decried the Romneys’ decision to claim only $2.25 million of their nearly $4 million in 2011 charitable contributions as deductions on their income. He contended that it “reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he’s seen fit to show the American people — and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements. That raises the question: What else in those returns has Romney manipulated?”
Gee. First Sen. Reid accuses Mr. Romney of not paying enough federal income tax.
Now he accuses him of paying too much.
That sounds like what’s known in Sen. Reid’s casino-haven home state as a rigged game:
Heads Harry wins, tails Mitt loses.
As for raising questions about “revealing” financial percentages, here’s one that’s far more pertinent than any politician’s tax tab:
How much longer will Washington persist in the increasingly high-risk gamble of spending 29 percent of the federal budget with borrowed money?