According to Greg Sargent’s Plum Line, ABC News’s Brian Ross has the goods on Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings–it has seemed for weeks to many observers including me in posts here and here–that his willingness to get pounded over the refusal to release his tax returns might be explained by the presence of parts of his personal fortune nested in foreign entities, money beyond the reach of taxation, which prevents the American treasury from getting a fair share of money earned here. Turns out, we were all right all along. From ABC, via Sargent:
“Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans. Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.”
Sargent concludes in this analysis he must have done on the hop, as Ross’s story was breaking for the 6:30 news:
“Take special note of the quote that one expert gave to ABC: “His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.” As I noted earlier, this is very dicey for Romney. Dems want to paint Romney as the walking embodiment of everything that’s unfair about our tax system and of all the ways the system is rigged on behalf of the rich and against the middle class. This won’t hurt that case. One wonders if these revelations — combined with the layoffs at Bain; Romney’s tax rate; the fact that his tax plan would give the very wealthy enormous tax cuts while raising taxes marginally on lower income people; and his penchant for saying things that perfectly feed the “one percent” storyline — will generate any concerns among Romney’s top backers about his electability.”
With Gingrich supposedly surging as we get near the SC primary Saturday, and another debate tomorrow night, if Newt comes on strong and finishes close, or wins–and if Rick Santorum is finally certified the actual winner of the Iowa caucuses, a call that still has yet to be made official, swiping Mitt’s claim to be “the first blah-blah in history to win both blah-blahs in Iowa and New Hampshire–Romney may yet end up in a real battle for the nomination. His electability will ultimately come into question, if Newt keeps pounding him on it, and if more shoes keep dropping.
If so, much of the country will be riveted, with moderate voters and many independents appalled at Romney’s opportunism in feathering his own economic nest all these years, to the dereliction of the country. That’s not patriotic, will be one message from the Obama campaign as the campaign stretches on. So if the Republican also-rans s drag it out for another 2-4 weeks at least, and the drip-drip of information continues landing on Mitt’s squared-off brow, he will be more and more of a hobbled general election candidate. If he does still prevail, he’s going to be damaged goods by the time just the primary is over, leave alone what the Obama campaign will do once the primary’s settled. If he doesn’t prevail and it’s Newt, that will be a disaster for the right-wing too, as the Republican id roams the land unleashed for nine months.