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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign event at Horizontal Wireline Services on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in Irwin, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Editorials/commentary: What's in Mitt's taxes?

- Romney’s returns: Candidate should release documents - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Mitt Romney has captured the Republican presidential nomination in all but name, and is running strong in the polls in his quest to become the next president of the United States. He has done so, largely, on his promise and his promises of doing a better job of managing the American economy than has the incumbent.

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Thus his refusal to release more than one or two years of his tax returns, along with the continuing confusion of when he really gave up control of the Bain Capital investment firm, strikes even many Republicans as troubling. In recent days, such conservative stalwarts as columnist George Will and the editors of The National Review have been among those tearing their hair over the What-does-he-have-to-hide? message that was being sent by Romney’s stonewalling. ...

... Romney has resisted the call to release more of his returns because he doesn’t want to serve up details for the Obama campaign to distort. But, without those details, speculation runs amok. And the speculation now is focusing on the theory that Romney’s returns from before 2010 might show an even more aggressive pattern of tax sheltering and off-shoring of assets that, even if totally legal, might not be the picture any candidate would want to draw of himself in a nation still pulling itself out from a major recession.

Meanwhile, Romney’s claim that he gave up management of Bain Capital in 1999 when he came to Utah to manage the Winter Olympics, while corporate documents show him as CEO and sole stockholder of that company through at least 2001, only feeds an image of Romney as someone who bends the rules, and reality, to suit his needs.

The release of a presidential candidate’s tax returns is a general gesture toward transparency. And, in this case, it could specifically help untangle the Bain mess. Romney’s returns should be released. For his benefit, and for the voters’.

- Romney’s personal finances matter - Paul Krugman, New York Times/Salt Lake Tribune

... this election really is — in substantive, policy terms — about the rich versus the rest. ...

- Mitt Romney's failing defensive strategy - Denver Post Editorial

The GOP candidate should release his complete tax records. By not doing so, he's raising questions about what he may be hiding.

- Release the returns - National Review Online Editorial

... It is to President Obama’s advantage to fight the election out over tactics and minutiae. By drawing out the argument over the returns, Romney is playing into the president’s hands. He should release them, respond to any attacks they bring, and move on.

- Refusing to release tax returns, Romney takes a big loss - David Sarasohn, The Oregonian

Mitt Romney will, of course, have to reveal his tax returns eventually. The only question is how bad he can make his situation before he finally does. From the evidence so far, pretty bad. ...

- What's Romney Hiding in His Tax Returns? - Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek

... When the stock market collapsed in 2008, the wealthiest investors fared worse than everyone else. ...

... As a member of the ultra-rich, Romney probably wasn’t spared major losses. And it’s possible he suffered a large enough capital loss that, carried forward and coupled with his various offshore tax havens, he wound up paying no U.S. federal taxes at all in 2009. If true, this would be politically deadly for him. ...

- Did Mitt Romney pay any federal taxes at all in 2009? - Ezra Klein, The Washington Post

... For what it’s worth — and, since I haven’t see Romney’s 2009 tax return, it’s not worth much — my guess is he paid some federal taxes in 2009. The sort of tax sheltering he would have needed to get to zero would be quasi-suicidal for a presidential aspirant. But his effective federal tax rate may only have been 3 or 4 or 5 percent, which would be nearly as bad as zero. Add in a couple of shelters that Romney fears would look particularly bad, and it’s probably enough to persuade him that enduring a bit of bad press for tax decisions people think he might have made is preferable to a media feeding frenzy over tax decisions he definitely made. ...

- Obama and Romney share the blame for keeping the campaign stuck on silly - Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger Editorial

The presidential campaign seems to be spinning down a rat hole, with President Obama playing a distracting game of gotcha and Mitt Romney refusing to come clean on his personal wealth. If you wanted an adult conversation, you can give them both some of the blame. ...

- Senator Lindsey Graham Says Avoiding Taxes Like Mitt Romney Is ‘Really American’ - Dan Amira, New York Magazine

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