Sargent: Romney's 'Just Trust Me' Campaign a Crapshoot
Greg Sargent blogs at WaPo's The Plum Line on Mitt Romney's unverified statement today stating that he never paid less than 13 percent taxes over the last decade. As Sargent explains:
What we're looking at here is an extraordinary gamble by the Romney camp -- call it the "just trust me" campaign. In essence, Romney is betting he can withhold huge amounts of detail about his finances and his major policy proposals without the public knowing or caring about it enough to matter.
On taxes, this lack of transparency goes beyond the amounts he paid; tax experts think the returns could shed light on Romney's various offshore accounts and any techniques -- fully legal, but perhaps difficult to explain politically -- he used to keep his rates low. Romney has stuck to this stance even though multiple Republicans, including his longtime backer and fundraiser Jon Huntsman Sr., have called on him to come clean with the American people.
That's only the begining. Romney won't reveal the names of his major bundlers, even though he's taken a drubbing from major editorial boards for failing to do so...
The lack of transparency and candor is not just regarding his personal finances; It's also his policies that he keeps deliberately vague:
...Romney has claimed he wants to eliminate whole government programs and agencies, but has freely admitted he won't specify which ones, because so doing could be political problematic. Romney did let a bit of detail slip about which programs and agencies he'd consolidate or eliminate, but only in a closed-door fundraiser that was overheard by reporters.
Romney has proposed a tax overhaul that he vows will be revenue neutral, but he won't say which loopholes and deductions he'd close to ensure that his plan's deep tax cuts on the rich will be paid for without hiking the middle class's tax burden. And not only that, but Romney and his running mate have freely confirmed in interviews that they see no need to reveal these details until after the election -- after which, they claim, it can all be worked out with Congress. And so on.
As for the strategy behind Romney's evasions, Sargent adds, "Romney appears to be betting that he can muddle his way through to victory despite the merciless incoming he continues to take, because voters disillusioned by the bad economy will want an alternative so badly that they won't be too picky about the details...Romney is betting on media incompetence -- its inability to inform the public -- or on voter apathy, or on a combination of both, to allow him to skate through."
It's a cynical ploy, one that assumes an extraordinary degree of apathy, dim-wittedness or distraction among voters. America's hopes for a better future depend in no small measure on him being wrong.