Romney releases 2011 tax returns

In a scenario eerily similar to last year’s “birther” debate that died down after President Obama released his birth certificate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney caved to Democratic pressure and released his 2011 federal tax returns last Friday, as well as the average figures for his 1990-2009 returns.

The release was in response to months of political pressure from the Obama campaign. Senate majority leader Democrat Harry Reid insisted that Romney was “hiding something” and even went so far as to assert that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in over a decade.

The Romney campaign released the figures on Friday at the end of a difficult week ― Governor Romney was filmed describing Obama voters as dependent on government aid — signalling a possible desire for the figures to get as little press as possible.

A common practice in Washington is to release unfavorable or less-than-favorable news and statistics on Friday afternoon or evening, since the weekend means less attention.

On the other hand, the new figures may be a boon to the beleaguered Republican campaign, keen to change the conversation and media focus from Romney’s unfortunate public gaffes to his selling points. CNN points out that releasing the figures this week, when Romney spent three days in the battlefield state of Ohio, would have taken media attention from what campaign aides hope will be a surge in the polls for Governor Romney.

The Romney campaign, meanwhile, has stated that there was no strategy in releasing the tax returns when they did, merely that they were released “because they were ready.”

The returns themselves show that Governor and Mrs. Romney paid nearly 14 percent in federal income tax in 2011. On an income of roughly $13.7 million, the total tax dollars paid were around $1.9 million.

On the other hand, the Romneys gave up more than $1.5 million in charitable deductions, which would have dropped their tax percentage down to just over 10 percent.

Governor Romney now faces two-sided criticism for this action. Some say he contradicted an earlier statement he made, in which he said that “he never paid more taxes than he owed,” according to the New York Times. On the other hand, other criticize him for trying to find loopholes in the tax system so as to avoid paying more taxes on his sizeable income.

Senator Reid is still not content with the Republican campaign’s explanation of Romney’s taxes. In a statement released shortly after Romney revealed his tax returns, Reid asserted that Romney “manipulated” the returns to “conform” his taxes to his public image.

True to form, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took Reid to task for his unsubstantiated criticism.

“You don’t think anybody in America’s gonna make their decision upon Mitt Romney’s tax returns — that’s just silly,” Governor Christie said in an interview Thursday. “Of course Harry Reid wants to talk about [it], because Harry Reid can’t talk about the fact that he’s presided over a Senate that hasn’t passed a budget for three years.

“I mean, he doesn’t want to talk about the substance of what affects real Americans’ lives. I do. And so does Mitt Romney.”