Tevye, Meet Mitt, A Rich Man

It's no shame to be poor, Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, but it's no great honor, either.

Likewise, it's no sin to be rich, but it's not a qualification for president of the United States, either. But that seems to be Mitt Romney's main argument: elect me because I got very, very rich and that means I can run your government.

The centerpiece of his CV is Bain Capital, but when that starts to draw closer scrutiny and criticism, he tries to run away from it, declaring he left for Utah in 1999 to honcho the 2002 Olympics and had nothing to do with the company back in Boston although he told the Securities and Exchange Commission that he was chairman, chief executive and sole stockholder of Bain that entire time. Now he's telling us that all those titles didn't mean anything because, in the incredulous words of a top campaign advisor, Romney had "retired retroactively." 

Another top advisor had said that once Romney secured the GOP nomination he'd be like an Etch-a-Sketch and erase what he'd said before. That was on display when Romney and his aide couldn't agree on whether his Massachusetts health care law contained a tax or a penalty. 

Mitt is not the first rich guy to run for president. That goes back to George Washington, one of the wealthiest men in the new country, right up to FDR, JFK and George W. Bush. But none of them told voters he made millions and that made him best qualified to run the country.

Speaking of those millions, it is a deep dark secret how many Mitt actually has and where they are.  We know he has some stashed in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands but how much more is there and where is it?  His persistent refusal to follow his own father's example – and that of prior presidential candidates – and release multiple years of tax returns only feeds suspicion that he has something to hide. Were there years when he made millions and paid no taxes at all?

It's not just the Democrats calling for Romney to come clean but a whole slew of Republican office holders and pundits as well.

George Will said, “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”

His refusal to make full disclosure feeds rumors that John McCain rejected him as a running mate four years ago after seeing those tax returns that Romney won't show voters.

If Romney were not such a rich man, would he be running for president?

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.