Kevin Drum on Reid’s gambit on Romney’s taxes
Kevin Drum has an opinion on election tactics:
Come on, folks. Reid didn’t say I’ll bet Romney didn’t pay any taxes. He didn’t say he talked to someone familiar with high earners who told him Maybe Romney won’t release his returns because he didn’t pay any taxes. He made a flat statement of fact. He said he has an “extremely credible source,” which in this context means someone with direct knowledge of Romney’s taxes who decided to pick up the phone and dish about it to Harry Reid. Does anyone really believe this? Really? Then, as if that weren’t enough, Reid made his little bluff even less plausible by deciding that Romney didn’t just avoid all taxes for one year, he avoided them for ten years. Yeah, baby, that’s the ticket! Put these two things together with the fact that Reid hasn’t even tried to make his fairy tale sound believable (it’s just some guy he talked to) and this is not a story that a five-year-old would credit. It’s just Reid making stuff up in order to put pressure on Romney, and I think we all know it.
Can I prove this? Of course not. Given the epistemological limits of proof, I can’t prove Barack Obama was born in the United States either. Nevertheless, I feel safe saying that anyone who claims to have an “extremely credible source” that Obama was born elsewhere is either crazy or lying. The same is true for Reid, and Reid isn’t crazy. It’s simply vanishingly unlikely that he’s telling the truth, and no one — not liberal or conservative — would spend even ten seconds on a story so patently far-fetched if it were anybody but Reid and the background were anything but the frenzy of a presidential campaign.
Politically, of course, Reid’s ploy has worked like a charm. Romney’s taxes are back in the news and Romney’s ham-handed handling of the whole affair has kept it there. And that gives everyone a fifth reason to cheer on Reid: the end justifies the means.
Take a deep breath, folks. This is contemptible stuff and it’s not just business as usual. We’ve spent too many years berating the tea partiers for getting on bandwagons like this to get sucked into it ourselves the first time it’s convenient. It’s time to quit cheering on Reid and get off this particular bus.
And this is why anyone with any sense stopped reading Kevin Drum.
Because the safest bet over those ten years is that Romney, on total, paid no taxes.
Not that he didn’t pay anything–but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts he got it all back, and then some, with his 2009 return. (Note that he has a taxloss carryforward as part of his 2010 return. You don’t get that unless you’ve taken all the credit you can for 2009, which includes restating previous years.)
On the evidence presented, Kevin is just wrong. But he’s Sensible…
People who get paid for having an “opinion” seem ever so likely to get caught up in the notion that they should not just tell us their opinions, but tell we should have their opinions. Douthat pretends he can know what’s going on in the head of people in fly-over country who have degrees from public universities – I must be enraptured with Sarah Palin, Douthat tells me.
Drum’s approach is different, more like George Will of the Samuelson who doesn’t understand economics. Drum dismisses views he doesn’t like to bully his readers into thinking what he thinks. And he was so right about Iraq, why would anybody doubt him on lesser issues?
Is Reid lying? Oh, he may well be. Is it “contemptible”. Well, it’s politics, so maybe, but isn’t “contemptible” already a little shop-worn in this particular story? Isn’t that the word pundits in the Drum school have pretty much all adopted for Reid’s behavior. Like “shrill” for Krugman or “balanced” for budget plans that get 75% of their savings from spending cuts, and most of their new tax revenue from the middle class.
Isn’t Romney’s twisting of Obama’s welfare policy contemptible? His twisting of “you didn’t build that”? His twisting of the economic views of Auerback, Bordo, et al comtemptible?
If Drum wants to call a spade a spade, why the special attention to just one spade?
Lots of typos there. Sorry.
kharris and Ken,
Why this spade is so right! Such an odd post.
“Can I prove this? Of course not. Given the epistemological limits of proof, I can’t prove Barack Obama was born in the United States either. Nevertheless, I feel safe saying that anyone who claims to have an “extremely credible source” that Obama was born elsewhere is either crazy or lying. The same is true for Reid, and Reid isn’t crazy. It’s simply vanishingly unlikely that he’s telling the truth,…”
This comparison is particularly disingenuous. After all, the reason that “anyone who claims to have an “extremely credible source” that Obama was born elsewhere is either crazy or lying” is that we already have pretty conclusive evidence that the claim is not true. In the case of Romney’s taxes, on the other hand, there is (so far as I’m aware) no evidence available that conflicts with Reid’s claim. Which means, as well, that there is no way to determine how “likely” it is that he is telling the truth.
actually, your comment was pretty good, typos and all.
don’t know if blogger allows a “edit and replace” but it might be worth doing in this case, as a few commas would help the reader out a bit.
Ken gets to the essence of the available evidence. We know from the one tax return for 2010 Romney has released that almost all his income is structured as capital gains. That is how he gets his 13% tax rate.
Second we know that he had a capital loss carry-forward from 2009. The only way you can have a carry-forward is if you zeroed out all of your capital gains in 2009.
Since almost all of his income is capital gains and since he must have zeroed out all capital gains, he effectively zeroed his income and paid little or not income taxes in 2009.
That is at least one reason he doesn’t want to release his 2009 return.
We also know from Statement 3 of the 2010 tax return that Romney received signifcant state tax refunds in 2009 and going back to at least 2008. To me this points to $0 tax for 2008 and 2009.
Drum sounds way too sure of himself –