Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Harry Reid’s Allegation

The last week has seen a furor over allegations made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate.

Specifically the outrage was directed at Reid’s charge that he had been informed by an investor in Bain Capital that Romney had paid no income taxes for ten years.

As staunch a liberal icon as Jon Stewart delivered a scathing rebuke of Harry Reid on The Daily Show.

Over the weekend a close friend asked me why I didn’t speak out on this matter and join in the chorus of those denouncing Harry Reid for what was a blatantly political tactic. 

My answer was that I did not feel that I had enough information to decide who was telling the truth.

I then raised to him what to me is the key question in this dispute. That question is, “Since John McCain reviewed twenty three years of Mitt Romney’s tax returns, why hasn’t he defended Romney against this charge?

My friend responded by sending me a link  to a Huffington Post article in which he believed McCain did exactly that.

Well, I read the article. The operative quotes from Senator McCain are: "’Everything was fine,’ McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill. ‘I can personally vouch for the fact that there was nothing in his tax returns that would in any way be disqualifying for him to be a candidate.’"

The article continued, “When pressed about whether Romney might be shielding his returns because he paid no taxes, McCain refused to discuss such specifics.

"’Please, I am not going to get into that kind of conversation,’ he said. ‘All I can tell you, and I can tell you again, is there was nothing disqualifying in his tax returns. And that is a fact.’"

Being somewhat familiar with political double talk I pointed out to my friend that all McCain needed to say was “Based upon what I saw in Mr. Romney’s returns, Senator Reid’s charges are not true.”

But Senator McCain did not say that. He merely said that there was nothing in the returns that would disqualify him from being a candidate. That sounds like a carefully considered legalistic dodge.

At this point I am withholding a judgment on the validity of Senator Reid’s allegations. However, the two people who are indisputably capable of proving the charges false, Mitt Romney and John McCain have not done so.


  1. The ultimate problem with Mitt Romney on this subject is that every response short of showing his returns comes across as a carefully worded legalistic dodge. "I paid all the taxes I was legally required," doesn't answer anything. No one is accusing him of doing something illegal. I'm sure he did pay all the taxes he was legally required. "I paid a lot in taxes," doesn't answer anything either. What years? Ultimately Mitt Romney is a smart man and he does a cost benefit on these things. Right now the cost benefit is telling him that not showing his tax returns for the full ten years is a better return than showing them. He has determined that the criticism he is currently taking is less than what he will take if he releases the returns. And that just raises more questions to me. What does he believe is more damaging than what he's currently going through?

  2. Hi, Jim,

    I'm the friend of Ken's that was talking with him this weekend about this topic (thanks for posting the video of Jon Stewart, Ken).

    I'm a very unhappy former Republican (28 years), who went Independent, for a number of reasons. I don't like that the party has been hijacked by the Tea Party. Either run your party more effectively, or cede control of it to the TP. This is no longer the party of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, or Reagan. It's the party of special interests.

    That's no different on the other side of the aisle. Both sides are ineffectual and could care less about the American people, provided they get power by keeping us down.

    So, not knowing who I'm going to vote for, I told Ken that I thought that putting out something, which Stewart did a brilliant job of calling out, by Reid, saying he doesn't know for sure is irresponsible, and the kind of great reporting that the National Enquirer is known for. Reid has nothing to lose, and I do believe it's obvious to anyone in a sideline position to see that Reid is trying to bait Romney. If Reid has proof, please show it.

    That doesn't mean that Romney shouldn't share his tax returns (although, frankly, I don't care when a politician does that--it's meaningless to me, and has little to do with their qualifications).

    On the flip side, as I've told Ken, the outing of Obama by the birthers was equally detestable. It's so stupid, when you have a nut case like Trump talking about his not being American, even after the Hawaii long-form comes out. Hey, Trump and Reid, if you have something to share, we're waiting with baited breath.

    Otherwise, both should shut the hell up and own up to the fact that neither has anything, and both are fishing for information.

    1. Dennis:
      During our conversations you asked me what it would take for me to reject Reid’s claims.

      As much as I may disagree with him politically, I do respect Senator McCain’s integrity. If he made the kind of categorical statement that I suggested, then I would believe him. However, his failure to do that – to me – speaks volumes.

  3. I respectfully disagree.

    You're making incumbent upon someone, based on a baseless, unknown claim that even Reid concedes he doesn't know if it's true, to defend a wild guess.

    It's tantamount to the lawyer's question, "when did you stop beating your wife", when the person never did.

    No answer sounds good, and the implication is because it's put out there, it must be true.

    The exact same tactic that Reid is using.

    I respect Sen. McCain. I don't respect Reid, and Reid has neither said nor shown anything that proves diddly squat. When a left-wing Liberal like Stewart can see through it, it worries me when others can't.

    When the birther issue came up, did you think that Obama had to prove himself? I didn't. The fact that he was vetted by the FBI was enough for me.

    You need to focus on the accuser: where's the beef, Harry.

    1. Dennis:
      You have apparently made up your mind. I have not.

      Reid himself said that he considered the source reliable but could not vouch for the truth of his allegations.

      McCain knows the truth, clearly has no desire to see Obama reelected, but will not state the allegations are untrue.

      I am not asking McCain to do anything more than to assert what he is in a position to know.

      What is wrong with that?

    2. Dennis:
      In addition, your invocation of the birther issue is a red herring.

      No one with the credibility of the government of the State of Hawaii has come forward to deny the allegations made by Senator Reid. You asked me what it would take for me to dismiss the allegations and I said a categorical statement by Senator McCain. That’s a much lower threshold than the birther nutjobs continue to reject.

    3. If you can't vouch for the truth of your allegations, you just go with it? Ken, would you state something here without proof? Of course not.

    4. I have gone with numerous stories based upon unnamed sources who I trust. As I pointed out in an earlier article I have not yet had to retract such a story.

    5. Sources is plural. Your boy Reid said "source", singular. He also says he can't verify the validity of his so-called singular source. You know you opulent run with that. Don't take the liberty to add to hat pest exist. One singular " source", no verification, and he's "not sure" of it's accuracy. Sounds like he's on to omethin. A trip to the Se. McCarty rubber room. Has he no sense of decency? No, according to my source. So, if I was your ONLY source,would you print it? That was my question before it was deflected.

    6. Dennis:
      It's quite clear that you have made up your mind.

      At this point, as in prior conversations, you are resorting to semantic hair-splitting. I have also, on very rare occasions, gone with one source when I was certain of their reliability.

      I have made it clear that I have not made up my mind on this matter.

      Right now an interested third party who knows the facts refuses to deny the charges.

      Why are you unable to keep an open mind?

    7. Because its so obvious what Reid is doing, yes, I've made up my mind. How long did it take you to make up your mind on the birthed issue? Did you wait for all of the facts, or dismiss the allegations as BS? No worries, I know the answer.

    8. I regret to say that comment speaks for itself. The man was already a US Senator and a former State Senator. If you were among those who had to wade through all the afterbirth then, like I said, it speaks for itself.

    9. Let's see: how many Speakers of The House have we had in MA that had the same or similar credentials? It didn't make them innocent (obviously, based on jail time), nor did it give Obama a pass. Having said that, you know I thought it was a bag of BS. Ken, you have to open your eyes and ears, and, like Jon Stewart, be fair and usually are, but not on this. You keep avoiding my question with diversions. Would you, or would you not publish from a single source, and, state you didn't really kow if it's true? Just a simple yes or no is fine.

    10. Given all the qualifications that you lay down before you ask a question I think Bill O'Reilly may have found a successor.

      However, unlike O'Reilly, you can't cut my microphone when you don't like the answer.

      The answer is this. If I had what I considered a reliable source I would have done exactly what Reid has done - raise the question but admit that I would welcome evidence to the contrary.

      Isn’t that a tactic you frequently employed on your own blog?

    11. Alright, Ken, I'm through. You want to accept thinly disguised rumors over logic. No point trying to discuss with someone who cannot see the obvious. And no, that's not a tactic I employed on my log. Two solid sources or nothing.

    12. Dennis:
      You say, "...that's not a tactic I employed on my log. Two solid sources or nothing"

      Can you prove that?

    13. Can you disprove that? That's how I operated...believe or're not Harry Reid, and I'm not Mitt. The burden is on you and not me. If you can prove otherwise, feel free.

    14. Apparently you missed the irony.

  4. Definitely Reid is fishing and playing politics. Personally I don't feel a need to respond to Reid because he's just playing politics. I typically only call politicians to task when I know they are lying. I have no factual evidence to call Reid to task. Sure he's playing politics, but Romney can end it at any time.

    What I do know is that Mitt Romney is breaking with a tradition started by his father that every presidential candidate has followed. The only way that Romney can clear that up is by releasing his tax returns and until he does so he will be criticized. And Romney always balances the costs against the benefits of every action. It comes from his finance background. You don't invest in something unless it has a good rate of return. He knows what he's doing. He's making a rational decision. And the more he resists the more curious I become.

  5. Mitt’s money lives happily in the Cayman Islands.

    The Atlantic Wire-What Matters Now released an article written by Eric Randall titled: "Romney Keeps Millions in the Cayman Islands":

    “Mitt Romney keeps millions of dollars in funds based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax shelter, reports ABC News, and while they don't think he's ducking U.S. taxes, the story is another reminder than the guy is very rich. ABC News's team reports Romney invested up to $8 million in funds listed in the Caymans and may have between $5 and $25 million more there in another account. Romney's campaign says none of that money goes untaxed by the American government, and ABC News doesn't really contest that claim, so no one's saying he's doing anything illegal. But the chief point seems to be that this won't look great for Romney because people generally set up funds in the low-tax Caymans to help other people avoid American taxes.”

    They quote Rebecca J. Wilkins of Citizens for Tax Justice:

    ["It helps U.S. investors avoid U.S. tax," said Wilkins, "it helps foreign investors avoid taxes in their home country, so it's not illegal or improper to set those funds up in a foreign jurisdiction, but it makes it more attractive to investors because it helps them avoid paying taxes on that income."]

    “As with debates over layoffs at Bain and paying 15 percent on your taxes, this feels like another issue where Romney made the same understandable decisions as a business leader and wealthy individual that don't look good when you're running for president while millions of people are unemployed".

    Read/Watch ABC’s News Story here:

  6. So if you make an allegation based on political party affiliation, it has more bearing and has more truth to it? They all lie, but when it's your team you need to take the heat Ken. Both sides lie and provide constant entertainment when they shout out baseless allegations. But when Dems make those allegations...............

    1. Bob:
      Perhaps I missed something.
      Do you have better information than John McCain who received 23 years of Romney's tax returns and has, thus far, refused to deny (or, as you would have it, call it a lie) Senator Reid's charges.
      I'm simply asking for his word that it is not true, no more. If he does that I will leave it to others to play the "birther game."

  7. Look, rather than grilling me on the observation that I don't have enough information to pass judgment, why don't you contact Senator McCain - who has the facts - and ask him to make a categorical statement.

    That's all I'm asking for - not a forensic investigation.

    1. So, if I ask you when you stopped beating your wife, you should answer that before I justify my accusation? C'mon, Ken, you are much better than that.

    2. Dennis:
      Okay, let's dispense with that nonsensical question.
      It only works if the responder is confined to a yes or no answer with no other reasonable option.

      Otherwise the responder simply says. "I never beat my wife and I'd like to see if you have any proof to the contrary."

      However, the question to McCain is a yes or no question - either what Reid is saying is true or it is not - there is no middle ground.

  8. Back on July 29 ABC News reported (See Romney Not Sure If He’s Paid Less Than 13.9% in Taxes) “Mitt Romney could not say today whether he had ever paid a tax rate lower than 13.9 percent, saying he would have to ‘go back and check.’

    In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ David Muir to air tonight on World News, Romney was asked if there has ever been a year when he paid less than 13.9 percent, the rate he paid in 2010.

    ‘I haven’t calculated that,” said Romney. “I’m happy to go back and look, but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law.’”

    To date Romney has not “gotten back” with the information he promised.

  9. "I have made it clear that I have not made up my mind on this matter". Who said that, Harry Reid or Ken O 'Brien? No, you have made up your mind and that's been obvious since you started this thread. You have one person asking reasonable questions which you avoid and you just won't stop. Romney is bad, Obama good. Reid may be wrong but YOU disprove it. Bleeding heart Liberal without an open mind. Just because you say you are doesn't mean you are. I'm heading to Brent 's blog. He at least listens without beating down his audience.

    1. You can read whatever you want if your criteria are that it doesn’t challenge what you want to believe.
      The fact is that not one of you can explain why John McCain, who obviously knows the truth, has failed to flat out deny what Reid has said he was told by what he considers a reliable source.
      We witnessed the spectacle over the weekend of Lindsey Graham and Reince Priebus, neither of whom knows what is in the tax returns, calling Harry Reid a liar or even a dirty liar.
      Why is McCain, the only other public figure other than Mitt Romney who knows the truth, remaining silent? That is why I am undecided on this matter – as much as it may rankle you because you cannot explain it.


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