(Source: By Merced Sun-Star, Calif. (MCT) – We believe that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney owes it to voters to release his tax returns. But we also take issue with the hypocrisy of most members of Congress who fail to live up to that same expectation — especially those clamoring most loudly for Romney to do so.
Anyone who seeks to be an elected steward of taxpayer money, a national leader, should be willing to withstand the scrutiny of having his or her own financial dealings opened in a gesture of transparency — just as Romney’s father did a generation ago.
It turns out that most of those guiding the nation’s economic discussion aren’t willing to do so.
A McClatchy Newspapers investigation looked at how members of Congress would respond to the same request for which they are chastising Romney (July 19, Page A-1). McClatchy reporters began requesting the tax disclosure information from members of Congress in May, well before the recent flap arose over Romney’s refusal to release his information.
In response to requests from reporters over the past three months, just 17 of the 535 members of Congress released their most recent tax forms or provided some similar documentation of their tax liabilities.
Reporters requested the returns to examine how members would be personally affected by changes in tax laws being debated in Congress including income tax rates, as well as taxes on capital gains and dividends and deductions for such expenses as home mortgage interest. In exchange for sharing their returns, members were told their actual returns would not be made public.
According to the article (which can be read at fblinks.com/Axk), Congress stands to gain or lose by the very tax policies it enacts, and tax records offer the chance to see whether the leaders of our government stand to benefit from their own actions.
“Senior public officials, especially members of Congress and presidential candidates, should be required to disclose their tax returns so that the public can monitor potential conflicts of interest,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
Economic policies, including tax policy, will be key to how voters choose our nation’s next leader, as the U.S. continues to struggle to get back on track. A relevant part of that dialogue is how the candidates and those in a position to set America’s economic direction handle and manage their own finances.
Those criticizing Romney suggest that he’s hiding something by not being more open. One can turn that question back at them and ask what they are hiding.
©2012 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)
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