Commentary: Privilege, Power and Mitt Romney

Why Mitt Romney’s refusal to come clean on his taxes matters in his quest for the presidency.

Posted: 07/20/2012 09:30 AM EDT
Mitt Romney

The problem with some privileged people is that they tend to have a sense of entitlement. They think the rules that apply to everybody else do not apply to them, especially when those rules pose an inconvenience to them achieving their goals and objectives. And whenever they are confronted with the harsh reality that the rules do indeed apply to them, they bristle at the very thought of such an idea. To them, part of the perks of being rich is having the power to skirt, bend or even break the rules with impunity. 

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has recently come under fire over his tax returns. Romney was reluctant to release his tax returns when he was running in the GOP primaries. After he had won his party’s nomination, Romney still didn’t release his tax returns, despite the fact that the media and several of his fellow Republicans, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour urged him to do so. Only after it became clear that Romney’s stubborn refusal to come clean on his taxes was helping the Obama campaign did he finally relent by releasing two years of his returns.

Unfortunately, his actions only fueled further suspicion. As CNN’s Edward D. Kleinbard and Peter C. Canellos write, “Romney's 2010 tax return, when combined with his FEC disclosure, reveals red flags that raise serious tax compliance questions with respect to his possible tax minimization strategies in earlier years.” These issues could easily be clarified by Romney releasing more tax records. Keep in mind that for the last 40 years, it’s been customary for a presidential candidate to release multiple tax returns. This precedent was set by Romney’s father, George.

Honestly, I can understand why Romney is reluctant to publicly release his tax returns because to do so is like letting some one look inside your wallet. I know I wouldn’t want someone doing that. But I’m not running for president, Mitt Romney is, and in doing so, he forfeits his rights to certain privacy. Instead of following the rules and releasing more returns, Mitt Romney does what most men of privilege do—pretends that the rules don’t apply to him. If Romney’s acting like this now, then what will he do if he becomes president and the Constitution prevents him from doing something he wants to do? That’s something to think about on your way to the polls this November.   

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(Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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