Human Events Blog

Harry Reid and the Romney tax slander

Harry Reid and the Romney tax slander

In an interview with the Huffington Post published on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that an anonymous Bain Capital investor called his office and said of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years!”

Reid described himself as mildly skeptical of this remarkable claim.  “Now, do I know that that’s true?  Well, I’m not certain.  But obviously he can’t release those tax returns.  How would it look?  You guys have said his wealth is $250 million.  Not a chance in the world.  It’s a lot more than that.  I mean, you do pretty well if you don’t pay taxes for 10 years when you’re making millions and millions of dollars.”

Well, he’s got a point there.  Just ask Treasury Secretary Tim “Turbo Tax” Geithner, or any of the other three dozen tax cheats working for the Obama Administration.  Or maybe one of the tax cheats who scooped up $1.4 billion in mortgage loans backed by the Obama “stimulus.”  Or perhaps one of the tax cheats who raked in $24 billion in “stimulus” loot while owing a total of $757 million back taxes.

As the Washington Times reported in May 2011, “One construction company that won multiple awards of money under President Obama’s 2009 stimulus program was delinquent on its federal tax bill to the tune of $700,000, even as a company executive was blowing hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos.”  That guy obviously knows all about living the high life while dodging taxes.  Maybe he could discuss it with Harry Reid over a stimulus-funded lunch.

Or maybe Reid should pick up the tab.  He can afford it, having raked in over a million bucks on a shady land deal in 2004, key details of which he concealed from Congress.  “The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to [longtime friend and casino lawyer Jay Brown’s] company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later,” an Associated Press report explained in 2006.  Is that what you had in mind when you mentioned “doing pretty well if you don’t pay taxes,” Mr. Reid?

Dan Primack of Fortune lowered the boom on Reid’s effort to slander Romney with weaponized gossip: “One of two things has happened: (1) Reid is simply making the whole thing up, in order to pressure Romney into releasing tax returns for years prior to 2010, or (2) Reid’s investor pal lied, and the Senator didn’t bother to conduct even a mild vetting before sharing the accusation with reporters. Either way, shame on gossipy gentleman from Nevada.”

“Let me make this crystal clear,” Primack continued.  “Investors in private equity funds do not receive, nor are they entitled to request, personal tax returns for fund managers.  Not just at Bain Capital, but everywhere.  For example, ask the person managing your 401(k) for their personal tax returns.  See how far you get.”

Primack went on to note that Romney hasn’t even been managing Bain funds for the past ten years, and that Bain doesn’t prepare tax returns for its partners in-house, so Reid’s source couldn’t be someone who just happened to find Romney’s tax returns lying on a fax machine.  Not that it seems terribly likely that a prosperous executive risking gigantic penalties, and possibly jail time, by cheating on his taxes for ten years would leave the evidence that could destroy him lying on a fax machine at the office.

Amusingly, when Primack rang up Harry Reid’s office to challenge his wild claims, a staffer told him to interview Reid’s anonymous source… who, of course, Reid will not identify.

There is a third possibility Primack didn’t consider: Harry Reid is not playing with a full deck.  It’s possible his “source” for the rumor was the stapler on his desk, or a sinister giant rabbit who claims to have time-traveled back from the future to help Reid escape the impending collapse of a tangent universe.

Here’s how Reid assessed his chances of remaining Majority Leader, in the same Huffington Post interview: “We feel comfortable in the Senate.  Where the problem is, is this: Because of the Citizens United decision, Karl Rove and the Republicans are looking forward to a breakfast the day after the election.  They are going to assemble 17 angry old white men for breakfast, some of them will slobber in their food, some will have scrambled eggs, some will have oatmeal, their teeth are gone.  But these 17 angry old white men will say, ‘Hey, we just bought America. Wasn’t so bad. We still have a whole lot of money left.”

That’s the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, folks.  That’s the guy who hasn’t been able to cough out a budget for our immense federal government in three and a half years.  He’s holding the American middle class hostage, and getting ready to body-slam the recessionary Obama economy with the biggest tax increases in modern history, in the name of class warfare.  But he’s got plenty of time to float nasty rumors about his political opponents.  No wonder Washington is such a disaster.

Contrary to Harry Reid’s wild fantasies, it won’t be 17 angry old white men slobbering into their breakfast trays who decide if America has to suffer through another Congress with this disgraceful Majority Leader.  It’s you.  If voters put a Democrat majority in charge of the Senate again, the fault will lie not in our scrambled eggs, but in ourselves.

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