For some reason, W. Mitt Romney keeps taking the bait when he is asked about his taxes.
Yesterday, he pushed the subject a little more. He said, "I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent."
(Note he said taxes and not federal income taxes – his answer could easily cover sales taxes, dining taxes, property taxes and state income taxes as well as federal tax rates at or close to zero.)
In a moment telling of his utter selfishness, he tried to lump his Mormon church tithe into his overall figure as if to say: I only get to spend about 80% of the millions in income – that is the income I do not shelter – I make each year.
Let us go back to his admission: Mitt Romney pays a SHOCKINGLY low percentage of his income on taxes. For a man of his means seeking public office it is a SHAMEFUL number. But Romney is a man without shame.
Even if you grant that he paid 13 percent in income taxes – which I do not believe for a second; I believe that this is just another of Mitt's long list of tax lies – that is a rate lower than middle class Americans pay.
Also, it should be noted that if Romney did not release his tax records, he could easily back up his claim by releasing a heavily redacted form that only represents his total reported income and the tax he paid to the IRS.
But W. Mitt Romney will never do this because it would expose the lie that he has repeated: the one that infers that he paid a minimum of 13 percent in federal income tax each year.
Harry Reid is right: Mitt Romney is lying.
It should embarrass Romney to say on one hand that he is concerned about America's fiscal condition and on the other hand boast that he hardly pays taxes as he divides time between the campaign trail, his Lake Mansion in New Hampshire, his Ocean Mansion in San Diego and his tony Boston home.
It should be noted that Romney also owns a cottage in Canada he has not visited during the campaign and that, as he prepared to run for president, in 2009 he sold off his Mountain Mansion in Utah and his Boston Mansion.
Perhaps focus groups told him that two mansions were acceptable but four mansions were over the top. Whatever the reason, clearly Romney realized the real estate holdings were politically damaging after 2008 (McCain's multiple homes were a political liability, made worse when he said he did not know how many homes he owned).
While Romney was cleaning up the real estate he did not think to clean up the overseas holdings – most of which he never revealed on his financial disclosure form but were discovered on the tax forms that were prepared after Romney began preparing to run for office and selling off mansions.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing Romney's taxes is what happens every time he is asked about them: he gives an uncomfortable laugh before answering the question.
I don't know that he laughs because he is uncomfortable about the questioning, but the laugh is uniquely disturbing. More so because the laugh happens every single time he is asked.
It is as if he is laughing at the rest of us suckers who pay at a higher rate and cannot afford accountants and tax avoidance schemes like Swiss bank accounts, real estate tax shelters, dancing horses, multiple mansions and all manner of things that become even more affordable when you pay a low rate.
In fact these luxuries can be used to further lower the taxes you owe.
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.
for more features.