Swiss Mitt (or: Not a Fluke)

January 24th, 2012

Inspired by Mitt Romney’s taxes: Too exotic for prime time? (Chris Cillizza, 1/24/12 12:29) about Mitt Romney’s Swiss bank accounts and what that means about Mitt’s tax returns (read the detailed discussion after the video clips below for more about that).


 “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.” – George Romney while running for President in 1967, explaining why he released 12 years of tax returns


Thanks to George Bush’s tax cuts, Mitt has a lot more cash,

Some of which he decided to in a Swiss bank account stash.


Mitt tried to hide the account, but his tax advisors didn’t remember,

You earn interest if you don’t close it before the prior December.


Did that money create jobs in theUSA?

Is it possible to do that from so far away?


And what else does that mean Romney is hiding

By his other tax returns not providing?


It’s hard grass-roots support to curry

When your money lives in a vault in Züri.


Here’s a 1972 Swiss Miss commercial.


Here’s your theme music, Züri brännt by TNT (In Swiss German, “Züri” is short for Zurich).


In addition to demonstrating the bankruptcy of GOP scripture on repeatedly and unendingly cutting taxes so that the sainted Job Creators have more and more money available to invest in the U.S. (it doesn’t really work if your millions are parked in offshore bank accounts), the revelation of Mitt’s Swiss account also exposes a broader and potentially more politically damaging issue: What else is Mitt hiding?

Mitt’s dad George said that that releasing only one year of tax returns is meaningless, in that it can be easily manipulated. George Romney meant that as a prescription to release multiple years, but Mitt seems to be interpreting it as a how-to manual: only release one year of tax returns so that you can easily manipulate them to look better.

How do we know this? Because there’s a smoking gun. I believe that Mitt and his financial and tax advisors closed his Swiss bank account at the end of 2009 so that it wouldn’t appear on his 2010 tax return (and assumedly also so he wouldn’t have to report it on any 2010 disclosure statements). They did that at the end of 2009, but made one small mistake: they closed the account in December 2009, which meant that Mitt received interest for that month…in January 2010. All that Mitt and his financial advisors would have had to do to keep that Swiss bank account from appearing on Mitt’s 2010 return would have been to have closed it a month (or maybe even days) earlier. As Homer would say: “D’Oh!”

If my theory is correct, then we know that Mitt was manipulating his personal finances in order to make his tax returns look more politically appealing (or at least, less politically damaging), and he got caught doing it. But here’s the an interesting question: do we really think that this single oversight was the only act of financial manipulation Mitt engaged in, and that Mitt’s army of highly-paid accountants, lawyers, and advisors screwed it up? That there was just that one politically-damaging thing that they tried to cover up, but failed?

Given that Mitt’s accountants, lawyers, and advisors are without a doubt the best money can buy, I think that’s highly unlikely. Mitt must have had his highly-paid advisory army scrubbing his personal finances, going over them again and again, for at least a year before he threw his hat into the ring, so you know that there must be many, many other politically-damaging factors that were successfully scrubbed away. How many more politically damaging things were scrubbed away? That important question depends on how competent you think Mitt’s army of advisors are. If you think they were really incompetent, then maybe there were 1-2 other embarrassments that they successfully scrubbed clean, missing the Swiss Bank account one (Mitt, don’t be sad: two out of three ain’t bad). If you think that army of advisors is highly competent and it’s a fluke that something like the Swiss bank account escaped their examination, that means there could have been hundreds of politically-damaging financial shenanigans that were successfully scrubbed away.

Important question #2: Were the financial misdeeds Mitt and his army of advisors scrubbed away bigger political problems, or smaller ones? Are they more likely to have caught all the small “issues” and missed the big ones, or caught the big ones and missed the small ones? Obviously, it’s the latter: if Mitt’s army of advisors was more likely to miss anything in their scrubbing exercise, it was the smaller things. So, that suggests that what was successfully scrubbed away was much more serious than what was accidentally left in.

In other words, Mitt’s Swiss bank account faux pas follows the iceberg rule: We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. That’s why we need to see the rest of Mitt’s tax returns. Like your dad said, Mitt: “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.” But you already know that. That single year of tax returns was the result of a careful and well-orchestrated scrubbing. Not a fluke: a fake.


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4 Responses to “Swiss Mitt (or: Not a Fluke)”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » The Perfect Getaway (or: Point One Percenters Can Always Jump Ship if they Don’t Feel the Love) Says:

    […] follow-up to Swiss Mitt, inspired by Romney under fire for tax avoidance in Bermuda (Bermuda Sun 1/25/12 08:50) and […]

  2. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Mitt’s Excuses (or: Eight Is Enough) Says:

    […] advantage of that approach is that you’ll have to release only the returns from after you started doctoring your finances to improve your electability, and won’t have to release any of the presumably more damaging pre-2010 […]

  3. Newsericks » Blog Archive » The Real Romney’s… Taxes (or: Why We Need to See Mitt’s Past Tax Returns) Says:

    […] follow-up to Swiss Mitt, titularly inspired by the book The Real […]

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    […] follow-up to Swiss Mitt, The Real Romney’s… Taxes and the rest of our “Mitt’s taxes” series, inspired […]

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