Prove It

1 August 2012

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Reid Claims Romney Paid No Taxes for a Decade

There is nothing more corrosive to democratic debate than the leveling of false charges. From Joe McCarthy to Michelle Bachmann, grandstanding liars have plagued America's political system. Now, Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) maybe have joined their ranks. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Mr. Reid claimed that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Willard Mitt "Crassus" Romney, paid no US income taxes for a decade. If true, this is extraordinarily damaging to Mr. Romney. If false, it is an atrocious lie. So, Mr. Reid, where is the proof?

The exact wording of the report is:

A month or so ago, he [Mr. Reid] said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office. 'Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years,' Reid recounted the person as saying. 'He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain,' said Reid. 'But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look? You guys have said his wealth is $250 million,' Reid went on. '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.'
This is typical low-rent mud-slinging beneath the dignity of Mr. Reid, or indeed, any elected official. One simply should not make an outrageous suggestion and then claim not to know whether it is true. At very least, the accuser ought to name the source so that the claim can be verified or denied.

Now, Mr. Romney isn't releasing his tax returns for a dozen years the way his father did when he ran for president in 1968. There could be a number of legitimate reasons. Mr. Romney may simply believe that his finances in 2004 are none of the voters' business. Or he may believe that his returns, which run to hundreds of pages, offer too much opportunity for journalists who don't understand finance and tax law to misinform the public. Or he has been very generous in his charitable donations and prefers to keep that a private matter.

Yet, Mr. Romney can only refute Mr. Reid's charge by releasing his tax returns -- or at very least showing the press the canceled checks made out to the US Treasury, which would also open a can of worms, albeit a smaller one. However, the onus is not on Mr. Reid to refute the accusation. The burden of proof lies with Mr, Reid. If one makes a statement, one must be able to prove it. Otherwise, one is merely gossiping. In an American court, one is presumed innocent until a case against one is proved. In modern American politics, everyone is guilty and even documentary proof (like a Hawaiian birth certificate) is insufficient to prove the truth.

If one has been paying any attention for the last 30 years, it is clear that Mr. Romney is yet the latest in a long line of reactionary politicians who would love to continue the misguided policies that wrecked the federal budget and balance sheet. Low taxes and high military spending doubled the national debt and ballooned the budget deficit under Ronald Reagan; the same policies roughly tripled the national debt under George W. Bush and left a hole where the American economy used to stand. Mr. Romney merely wants to continue building a feudal America.

That does not excuse Mr. Reid, or anyone to the left of Attila the Hun, from engaging in McCarthyist attacks. If there is no proof, it is best to say nothing. If there is proof, present it. So far, Mr. Reid has offered none.

© Copyright 2012 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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