Don’t Release Your Returns, Mr. Romney. Burn Them.

by Daniel Foster

For what it’s worth, I disagree with the Editors’ conclusion that Mitt Romney should release additional tax returns.

1) Releasing more than he already has in response to the Obama campaign’s heckling is nothing less than letting his opponents dictate his campaign strategy, and it will embolden them to repeat the tack.

2) Romney is squaring off against one of the least transparent American administrations in modern history, headed by a president whose opaqueness has the added bonus of being massively hypocritical and counter to a prominent campaign promise. Romney ought to partner with some government-transparency non-profit and offer to release one year of returns in exchange for the release of each item on that organization’s most-wanted list.

3) The fact that some people think that Romney’s tax returns could reveal anything — short of evidence of law-breaking — useful about his capacity to serve as president is itself a scandal. He’s rich. But then, we knew that. He probably has some clever accountants. But then, we assumed that to begin with. What else do these people want except tabloid details about yachts and bank accounts? Remember, we live in a country where the IRS knows more about Romney than anybody but Ann. Romney should make this point explicitly. He should make the case that he represents a future in which your tax returns don’t define you as a person — both because it won’t be driven by class resentment, and because it will feature a reformed and simplified tax code, dramatically reducing the reams of personal minutiae the Leviathan requires to assess your contribution to the Common Defense and the General Welfare.