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Chart showing Mitt Romney has only released one tax return in last two decades.
House Democrats are preparing a bill that would require presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, just for starters. The planned legislation would also require presidential candidates to disclose details of any offshore accounts or investments they had and disclose assets held by IRAs or 401(k) plans. Does any of this sound familiar?

"The stunning lack of transparency from someone in pursuit of the highest office in the country highlights the need to change the law to require fuller disclosure," Rep. Sander Levin said in a statement. "For decades, presidential candidates have voluntarily provided a thorough accounting of their tax returns and finances, as they should. But we clearly cannot continue to rely solely on the willingness of a candidate to disclose fully what the public has a right to know about the candidate’s financial record."

Levin also named names, calling on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns because "The American people should not be left to wonder what he is not disclosing and why not."

In theory there are two ways we won't be left to wonder: if Romney is forced by law to disclose, or if he concludes that the public opinion penalty for not releasing his tax returns will outweigh the damage they can do. Based on his continuing refusal, though, it seems like Romney is about as likely to release what every other presidential candidate in recent memory has released as John Boehner is to allow the House to vote on this bill.

(For further discussion, see Brainwrap's diary.)

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Mitt has a sad. Lesser beings are annoying. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, uciguy30, Matt Z, Larsstephens

    I wonder how large a rug he was planning to sweep this under.

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 12:49:27 PM PDT

  •  Hope they can make that bill retroactive. (7+ / 0-)

    Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

    by Miniaussiefan on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 01:30:30 PM PDT

  •  How do they do this... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, uciguy30, nellgwen, rhutcheson, WillR

    ...without amending the Constitution?

    My guess is, they don't.

    •  I don't think the Constitution is a problem here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp, alasmoses

      The Constitution and its amendments set the rules to be eligible to run, but I don't think it precludes allowing them to set up additional administrative actions.

    •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Every piece of legislation doesn't have to be a constitutional amendment, my friend.  This can be a separate bill or be included in another bill as a rider and if it gets past the House and Senate, it's a done's law.

      Now, someone or some entity could file a suit regarding its constitutionality, but that's it.

      The truth is sometimes very inconvenient.

      by commonsensically on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:46:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If a piece of legislation... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...has the effect of disqualifying someone from running for president, yes, I believe it does have to be a Constitutional Amendment.  Why not just pass a bill saying that no Republican can run for president?  
        I'm seeing suggestions here that a bill could be passed requiring the IRS to make such information available, which seems like it would have the same effect without the Constitutional problems.  

    •  Interesting question. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp

      We could always put one of those provisions in the bill allowing for ultra-fast-tracked, mandatory Supreme Court review.

      The Court reconvenes in October, and I'm sure they can spare a day for arguments. After all, the integrity of an election is at stake!

      I mean, we want to be fair to Romney, don't we? That seems fair. Heh heh heh.

      But seriously, I think the way you'd do it would be to craft the law so that the IRS was required to release your returns as soon as you filed the normal paperwork. That gets around the question of "if you don't do X, you're not eligible anymore," which would probably be unconstitutional.

      •  Article I Section 4 of the Constitution (0+ / 0-)
        The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereof, but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations . . ..

        "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

        by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:06:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You bolded the wrong part of that quote. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereof, but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations . . ..

          "To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well." Justice Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg.

          by Wayward Son on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:08:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There was no election for president then (0+ / 0-)

            Presidents were chosen by the electoral college.  Article II section 1:  

            Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress.
            The Constitution goes on to detail the electoral college vote.  But for the first few presidential elections, the state legislatures selected the electors, so the presidential election was really the state election for the state legislators.  

            Gradually, over the decades before the Civil War, states expanded the franchise from a limited number of the richest property owners to universal white male suffrage, and transferred the power to choose electors from the legislature to the qualified white males who could vote.  But it was up to the states to determine who could vote and whatever restrictions there would be in the voting process.  For example, in the 11 states of the soon to be Confederacy, Virginia excepted, and also except in South Carolina where the legislature still chose the electors, Lincoln's name did not appear on the ballot in the 1860 presidential election, thanks to laws enacted in these 9 states.

            "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

            by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:21:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Umm (0+ / 0-)

              Unless there has been an amendment I am unaware of, Presidents are still chosen by the electoral college.

              States may mandate that the electors have to choose whoever got the plurality in that state, but from a Constitutional level it is the exact same process.

              The best pizza comes from New York.

              by JakeC on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:37:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You implied that Congress could set limits (0+ / 0-)

              on the prerequisites for President by quoting a portion of the Constitution that has nothing whatsoever to do with the office of the President.

              I didn't want to have to say it so bluntly, but my general nudge in the right direction seems to have been ignored.

              "To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well." Justice Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg.

              by Wayward Son on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 12:37:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Just make is so that any information the IRS (0+ / 0-)

      has on Presidential candidates is covered by the Freedom of Information Act or a similar law. No need to force the candidates to do anything, just make it so that some privacy protections no longer apply to them.

      Republicans believe you need an ID to vote but you can donate millions to any candidate completely anonymously. (h/t jbou)

      by Calouste on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:16:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This would be a much better idea. (0+ / 0-)

        If you just make it 10 years, people like Mitt Romney will wait 10 years before running in order to hide their Tax Skeletons.

        Make it so ALL info is subject to FOIA requests, you can guarantee transparency.

        We lose if we choose to forget; the lives of men, and money spent.

        by DeanDemocrat on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:04:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Obviously (0+ / 0-)

        You don't mean exactly that, unless you think every Presidential candidate should be the victim of a massive identity theft.

        The best pizza comes from New York.

        by JakeC on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:38:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Love it! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckeye74, uciguy30, nellgwen, Matt Z

    Don't care if the bill fails to leave the house, keep voting on it like 33 more times (or is it more times the idiot repugs have voted to get rid of Obamacare?)

    (Yes it is Obamacare.  As people get the checks from the insurance company, let EVERYONE know it was OBAMACARE.  Let people realize that OBAMACARE put cash in the hands of everyday people.  Make them associate getting money back from rich insurance companies as something that PRESIDENT OBAMA did, and the repugs are against!)

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:03:57 PM PDT

    •  No vote unless the House Rules Committee allows it (0+ / 0-)

      And Boehner and his gang won't allow it.  

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:08:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the easiest part. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Navy Vet Terp, Mannie

        Until November 2012, this is a purely political gesture anyway. The merits of actually having something like this is something people can debate in 2013 (or 2017, or 2021, etc.). If Romney loses this election in part because people were turned off by his tax secrecy, the GOP would have every reason to support a bill like this, to spare themselves the trouble of having to vet the next crop of plutocrats who went after their nomination.

        In the meantime, you don't need John Boehner's permission to bring it before the Rules Committee, to bring it before the Committee of the Whole, to try to attach it as a non-germane amendment to a bill naming post offices, etc. etc. Oh, sure, you lose all those votes and rulings, but if you wanted to make sure that the House was busy voting down tax disclosure twenty times a day, you only need one Member for that.

        I'm not saying that's the optimal political strategy, but it's easily done.

  •  I'm starting to wonder if Mittens (6+ / 0-)

    can go to the Republican convention without releasing his tax returns.

    Chicago--Proud Home of the 1908 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

    by Jeff Y on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:32:12 PM PDT

  •  Why 10? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    uciguy30, Hoghead99, nellgwen, Matt Z

    George Romney released 12 years, and we want to see Mitt's tax returns for the crucial years where he was, but was not, in charge of Bain (2000-2002).

    On the other hand, maybe just 2009 would be enough, if Mitt took advantage of the one-time amnesty to disclose any illegally hidden bank accounts.

  •  Mitt's next move... (6+ / 0-)

    Will be to say that THE BILL WAS ACTUALLY HIS IDEA.

  •  Read about Mitt's Magical IRA. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoghead99, uciguy30, nellgwen, yojimbo, Matt Z

    How did he get so friggin' much money in there? We don't know.

    Mitt's Magical IRA

  •  Isn't Willard doing a good enough job... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...of tanking his OWN campaign?  We bash GOP Congress-critters all the time for not focusing on the right issues.  Isn't that a 2-way street?

  •  We need to keep up the barrage of (0+ / 0-)

    outrageous theories of what's in the returns.  Force him to deny every stray rumor.

    "Forever is composed of nows." Emily Dickinson

    by Leftovers on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:40:00 PM PDT

  •  Put a 'rider' on the bill repealing Obamacare (0+ / 0-)

    And have the fun of watching the Republithug congress collective heads explode like a Gallagher watermelon.

    Romney 2012 - When in doubt, lie. (Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #266)

    by Fordmandalay on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:40:29 PM PDT

    •  Those explosions are already....... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nellgwen, Navy Vet Terp

        .........happening. I posted a DK diary to my FB account this morning, and a RW guy just totally went off the rails about it. I think they're getting a little queasy about Willard. Like Seamus.......:)

      Compost for a greener piles?

      by Hoghead99 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:47:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love the effort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Of course, this will go nowhere...but it will at least get some press and help in making the point that the Obama campaign is making in trying to get the Mittens to offer up his tax returns for the last 10 years.

    If nothing else, it's just good campaign strategy.

    What I'm pretty sure would happen here is that the legislators will vote against this measure in a big way.  I mean, ya gotta know that they would worry that this won't just stop at the presidential level.  

    The truth is sometimes very inconvenient.

    by commonsensically on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:43:13 PM PDT

  •  That check mark on 2010 (0+ / 0-)

    ...should be a question mark.  He didn't release the Swiss bank account info.


    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:48:10 PM PDT

  •  This is a good idea, but the timing is of concern. (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, Republicans use bills for pure political theater often, but it is unseemly. I love the bill. It is a bill that should become law, but now, under these circumstances?

    Okay, I often accuse our Democrats for being soft. Reset. Ah, fuck it. Ram that bill right in Romney's face.

    Roman Catholic by birth---thoroughly confused by life.

    by alasmoses on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:48:54 PM PDT

  •  Why not go farther, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    pass a bill making the release of all tax records, complete medical records, employment history, and education records. We should know everything about the person who might become President. If a person is willing to run for the office, then they accept the fact that their life and history is no longer private. I should know the complete history of Presidential candidates as well as I know mine.

    Maybe I expect to much.

    "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you might still exist, but you have ceased to live." Mark Twain

    by Void Indigo on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:50:58 PM PDT

    •  Seems the same... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Void Indigo

      ...should apply to Senators and Representatives.

      They often hold office for well more than maximum two terms the President gets and Senators are elected only every six years so they hold office for longer on one election.

      A Senator or House leader can be VERY powerful.

  •  Thoughts (0+ / 0-)

    1.  The bill won't apply to this year's election.  Courts aren't likely to uphold an ex post facto law with ramifications to an ongoing presidential election (nor would I want them to).

    2.  The bill is treading close to the line of affecting the ability of folks to run for the presidency, which is really something that needs to happen at the constitutional level.  Might not survive a court challenge.

    But I do like the idea of making it an official standard for running for high office.


  •  This is what is wrong with our politics (3+ / 0-)

    I don't care about Mitt's tax returns. He's rich, he's got a lot of complex investments, he uses tax avoidance techniques to shelter income. Better to try and defeat him in the court of ideas. It's too easy for the GOP to counter this strategy with demands to release transcripts, release fast and furious documents, release this, release that. The country is barely hanging on by a thread and it pisses me off that we never stop playing these games, like all that matters is winning. Not what it is we actually win, like a plan with a mandate to save the country from complete fiscal collapse.

    "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." Barack Obama August 5, 2008

    by thefretgenie on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:57:12 PM PDT

  •  More empty political theater.....n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    No more "single payer." No more "universal coverage." Just say, "Medicare for every American."

    by masswaster on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:58:18 PM PDT

  •  Odd... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Navy Vet Terp

    You would think that with the stupidity the President went thru about his birth certificate that any future political candidate would do anything reasonable to keep their campaign from sinking.  However, we are talking about a man who believes that he's entitled to the presidency and shouldn't have to do all of this lowly stuff like explaining to the best of your ability to the American public why you are the best person they should vote as their president.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

    by lcj98 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 02:58:26 PM PDT

  •  So they should add a birth certificate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, tb92

    for some t bag support

  •  The debate will cause more to pay attention (0+ / 0-)

    There are a lot of people, judging by letters to the editor and comments in other fora such as on FaceBook and Huffington Post, who really don't get why Romney's balking at disclosure is an issue.

    This needs to get pressed full court.  Congress ought to pass such a law if it can, but given the current makeup, it is not close to likely.  

    But a bill put forward could begin the process and maybe it could pass in the next session.  If it needs to be an amendment, so be it.

    I think the prospects of someone who is an uber rich Wall Street type who has money in foreign accounts for tax sheltering purposes and who has participated in the worst abuses of destroying American manufacturing capacity and offshoring jobs has to stand some scrutiny.  

    Otherwise we might as well just give up and declare the Republic a failed experiment, adopting a Plutocracy model of government with a constitution written in secret in a boardroom on Wall Street.  

    Yeah, that is what our ancestors would have wanted.  To chicken out.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:03:24 PM PDT

  •  Mitt's nuts. (0+ / 0-)

    No way this is quieting down. It's impossible now and always was. What the hell was he thinking in the first place? He's so special the entire presidential tradition and convention going back thirty five years doesn't apply to him? Bullshit.
    Of the thirty-four candidates who ran in the last thirty five years, only seven—Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee, Steve Forbes, Rudy Giuliani, Richard Lugar, and Ralph Nader—have refused to release their tax returns altogether (as far as I can find online).
    Not one of them was the candidate from the two major political parties.
    I mean, take a look at that list. Jerry Brown knew, had to know, he wasn't going to actually become President of the United States. Pat Buchanan? Come on. Get real. Same for Steve Forbes, any of them. Not one of them was the nominee of one of the two major political parties.
    Mitt, this is the big leagues. Like, leader of the free world?
    Take the silver spoon out of your ass and either give up your precious tax returns or suspend your campaign. Otherwise, you're just fucking around here.

  •  While I think Romney should... (0+ / 0-)

    ...release his tax returns, I don't think there should be a law made requiring it JUST because Romney's being a douche about it.

    It reminds me too much of members of congress wanting to pass a law to require candidates release their birth certificates in 2008.

    There's not really much of a chance of such a law passing, why even bother with it?

    I don't know what I'm doing anymore.

    by DawnG on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:18:28 PM PDT

  •  This bill is a terrible idea. (0+ / 0-)

    Had this bill been in place in 2011, anybody who had something worth hiding - Romney, for example - would have been weeded out in the primaries.  So maybe the nominee would be Perry or T_Paw or whoever.

    And then we would be denied the delicious theater we're having right now.  In 2016, I want a replay.  I want a R nominee who's afraid to release their returns.  Pretty please?

    The one upside will be watching house R's squash the bill, and the tortured rationales they will offer.  Who knows - maybe it will cost somebody somewhere a reelection.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:45:16 PM PDT

  •  dems can comply without passing a law (0+ / 0-)

    they should adopt it as part of a broad platform like a dem version of the "contract with america".  passing a law can be stage 2, but in the present they can create pressure by unilaterally imposing it as a condition of running on the party banner.

  •  I can't believe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Milty, Bill W

    how many people in this thread are in favor of basically abolishing any right to privacy.

    I see comments suggesting that all tax, financial, heath records should be released.  Maybe for those running for Congress too.

    So, any woman running for high office, if she had an abortion 30 years earlier- we get to know about it?  Or if the candidate, man or woman, tested positive for an STD at some point in their life, that's now fair game?

    The candidate did poorly in high school French, or couldn't climb a rope- we need to know that?

    Because the candidates we have running for office now are of such high quality that we should scare some of them off?

    Forget the politics of it, how about a little principle here?  

    The best pizza comes from New York.

    by JakeC on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:47:12 PM PDT

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