Thursday, September 13, 2012

The link between Romney's Libya misadventure and his tax returns

I have been as stunned as everyone else by Romney's willingness to lob scurrilous and demonstrably false charges on the very evening when U.S. embassy personnel were murdered abroad.  Morality aside, it shows a stunning disinhibition and lack of the most elementary judgment regarding how people would react to his so transparently viewing the tragedy as a great opportunity for him to score political points.

Richard Nixon was not exactly known for his high moral character, but ask yourself this: Would he ever have been so stupid and clumsy?  Of course not.  He knew how to lay on the unction when that was the indicated course.  Nixon may have been many things, but he was definitely not a fool.

You need to have serious psychological and intellectual impediments to understanding how other people are likely to react, in order to pursue the course Romney did the other night.  And, of course, the comical thing about it is that his so aggressively pursuing his electoral self-interest (international crisis be damned) was in fact the very worst thing he could have done from the standpoint of actually promoting that self-interest.

What happens when you take a person with this sort of temperament (aggressiveness, disinhibition, stunning lack of judgment about what other people would think) into the tax planning realm?  I think one can draw a pretty fair inference that he is NOT someone who would avoid aggressive and even fraudulent tax shelters because it would be stupid to do them.  No one in his right mind would have pushed things too far, in the tax reporting realm, in 2007, 2008, or 2009.  Why not pay some tax?  This would not have to be a matter of over-reporting income, but simply of not aggressively seeking tax losses, sham foreign tax credits, and the like.

But that evidently is not how Romney thinks.  And he has told us this flat out.  While all too understandably refusing to release his tax returns, given what we might find there, he has boasted publicly about not paying a penny more than he has to.

In sum, this is not a person who would ease up on the aggressive tax sheltering simply because doing it might be viewed by most people as stupid and irrational.  I am getting the sense that he's a one-trick pony, and that stupidly aggressive is simply what he does.

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