This is not a donut

Cosby Show

Mitt Romney released his final 2011 taxes today and the media are all over it like there is some precious jewel they will uncover. For me, the fact that he has been arrogantly obstinate about not releasing more than two years tells me all I need to know about his character.

I was content with that until Chris Hayes from the UP w/ Chris Hayes Show tweeted something rather pointed this afternoon about Mitt’s tax returns that got me thinking.

I think it’s actually morally condemnable to take “extraordinary” measures to avoid taxes, even if legal. #hashout

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that everything on the Romney tax returns is entirely legal. Every deduction, every exemption and every income category complies with the letter of the law. And that is the crux of the issue Hayes was getting at.

Chris is young. He is not a grizzled, hardened small business person — yet — so we can forgive him his moralizing for a moment. But this got me thinking about how Mitt sees the tax code and why it is a peek into his character. For this point to stick, we need to climb into the Wayback Machine to the ’80s and watch a short clip of a Cosby Show episode. This is the one where Claire was invited to be on a panel for a Sunday morning show much like Hayes’ except the pastries were kept in the green room.

It’s a good thing we’ve evolved and let the pastries join us at the table. Let’s watch.

The scene that aligns with Mitt’s behavior and Hayes’ tweet is when Hector say, “This is not a donut!” as he bites hungrily into a chocolate-glazed long john. He is technically correct; a long john is not a donut. But it really IS a donut. You and I would call a long john a donut. So would Claire. And Cliff Huxtable knows damn well that a long john — and even a danish which he eventually bites into — is a donut.

This is what the “morally condemnable” bit is that I think Hayes is referring to. While Mitt’s tax avoidance may be perfectly legal, it is immoral to dance on the letter of the law as you force the spirit of the law to give up the ghost.


3 Replies to “This is not a donut”

  1. If I was more interested, I’d like to see how much of his “effective tax rate” is comprised of SEP. I know that zero of his income for ’10 or ’11 was from the much hallybooed “wages”.

    I agree with you. The fact that these are the two years he released, knowing they would be scrutinized because he was running for office, reeks of a cover-up. He previously said he didn’t want people to know how much he donated to the Mormon church. His dad never had that view.

    So many people on the right are willing to excuse him for this. I think they don’t understand that their party will continue to be seen as shady as long as shady people are running it and as long as Fox continues to excuse it away.

  2. I enjoy reading your thoughts because of your perspective and the fact that it helps me challenge my own. I’m a conservative. So, with that out of the way, I have to ask a question here – or three. What do you define as “extraordinary” measures? And, if it is legal, what is the basis for considering it morally condemnable?

    Finally, if Mitt’ was “arrogantly obstinate” in not releasing his tax records for two years, exactly what does that say about his character, and how do you contrast that with President Obamas lack of transparency?

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