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Opinion: The Second Coming Of W

The Buck Starts Here

Down to the trademark "W", W. Mitt Romney is literally the second coming of the Bush economic strategy that led to the worst American economy since the Great Depression.

Not only is Romney's economic plan identical to that of George W. Bush, but his profits in the private sector were derived from shipping jobs overseas, one of the corrosive practices that has eroded the middle class and created structural unemployment across the Rust Belt and beyond.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry called the work W. Mitt Romney did "vulture capitalism."

Now it is becoming clear that Romney also showed the same disregard for the SEC and court testimony that so many Executives used as a way to maximize profits while minimizing truthfulness. He is a product of the culture that brought down the banking industry and forced the American taxpayer to bail out the industry.

When Rick Santorum said that Romney was the "single worst Republican" to run against Obama, his reasoning was health care. He could have made the same argument for Romney’s economic plan. Romney's history of outsourcing and destroying the country's manufacturing base is coming back to haunt him.

And the web of lies he has spun trying to dissociate himself from the actions of Bain that made him millions is collapsing around him.

Since he ran for Governor in 2002, Romney has been dogged by his ties to Bain's shuttering and offshoring of factories and jobs. His claim: I retired from Bain to go work on the Olympics therefore I am not responsible for the actions of Bain that made me millions of dollars.

There is no disputing that he profited from these deals. Romney just says he isn't responsible.

Here is the problem: Bain's just published filings with the SEC show Romney as the sole shareholder, CEO and President of Bain. They also reveal that he drew a salary of over $100,000 – and by over, that means he could have been paid a salary of tens of millions. Only his IRS filings will clear up that question.

Romney claims that during the three years in question, 1999-2002, Bain's filings were merely legacy statements to account for the time spent devising his exit compensation.

Here is the problem: as late as 2002, Romney was associated with new ventures at Bain. These are wholly new business ventures that expose Romney's claim as a lie.

Yet, there is a much bigger problem haunting Romney, he began filing state income taxes in Utah – a state with lower tax rates and a state that Romney, at the time, was rumored to be considering as a better place to run for office. His Mormon ties, one of the reasons he was tapped to run the Olympics, made the state an easier fit for his political ambitions.

As it turned out, there was a sudden shift towards Republican politics in the state of Massachusetts that facilitated Romney’s run for Governor of the state in 2002. But now he was faced with yet another problem: his decision to file taxes in Utah raised questions of his residency.

In sworn testimony, Romney stated that he had been actively involved in Bain's workings during the period of the Olympics and supported his claims with specific tasks. Based on that testimony, it was determined that he met the Massachusetts residency requirement.

W. Mitt Romney's problems are not merely political theater. He has filed legal statements asserting that he left Bain in 1999 and has used those legal documents in his argument that he is not responsible for the company during the years 1999-2002, despite the fact that he was still President, CEO and sole shareowner throughout those years.

Romney filed these financial disclosure documents before his run for President in 2007 and in 2011. Filing a false financial disclosure document is a felony offense.

If these financial disclosure statements are accurate, and the facts make that possibility infinitesimal, then Romney committed perjury to run for Governor of Massachusetts.

He either committed perjury or felony misrepresentation. There is no third option.

Romney can clear up these questions. His tax records, the ones he said were provided to the McCain campaign, along with Bain's own records will expose the true story.

It is Romney's only way to move forward from the questions.

But clearly there are real liabilities, either legal or political, that are greater than the question of whether he committed a felony or perjury and misrepresented his company to the SEC, because W. Mitt Romney finds dealing with these questions more palatable than releasing his records.

If he is taking on this much water over his offshore accounts, his associations with tax havens, and the controversy over which law he broke, then what is in his tax records must be incredibly damming?

Did he not pay taxes some years? Did he use accounting schemes to hide money from the IRS? We do not know.

When Republican hysteria was whipped up over Barack Obama's dealings with Tony Rezko, Obama sat down with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune and walked them through the story in detail.

Romney is unlikely to do the same, though he shared 23 years of tax returns with the McCain campaign. Maybe that is what sunk him. To get the answers to all the questions, the Obama campaign should open reading rooms in every campaign office where anyone can come in and review his tax returns and his long form birth certificate, and challenge Romney to do the same.

Until we see the Romney tax returns from at least 1999 to the present, it will be impossible to know what version of his story is the truth.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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