This is not just a partisan game of political gotcha. The stakes are much higher than that. Romney will try to say it's no big deal and Lindsay Graham will laugh it off as a rite of passage for Americans to engage in legal tax evasion.
It's not any laughing matter though. Mitt Romney is aspiring to the highest office in our land. This is leader of the Free World. The President of the United States as the highest office holder is sworn to uphold, protect, and execute our laws.
And this role and this oath can be taken by a known tax evader who has bilked the U.S. government out of millions of dollars? The government loses $100 billion a year through tax evasion. While the GOP attacks "big government" the government is actually you and me and our fellow Americans representing the General Will-couldn't resist the Rousseauist flourish.
How can a known tax evader with dozens of foreign bank accounts which serve no purpose but to avoid paying taxes be trusted to uphold our laws? This is why this isn't a joke. The reality is that there's an elitist dimension to what Graham was saying. It's only wealthy fat cats that can afford the kinds of aggressive tax avoidance strategy that Romney has engaged in.
The Mitt Romney team is trying to deflect, but only add their own evasions to Mitt's tax evasions. Clearly by their rationalizations they demonstrate that they and their candidate just don't get it.
"Romney aides have called the barrage of attacks an "unfounded character assault" by a campaign desperate to distract attention from a sluggish economy that threatens the president's re-election prospects. And Romney insists his private financial records contain nothing illegal."
"I have followed the law," Romney said Tuesday on Sean Hannity's radio show. "I have paid my taxes as due. I have also disclosed through all of the requirements of the government, every asset which I own, fairly and honestly, recognizing, of course, not to do so would be not only wrong but illegal and criminal."
It's the "unfounded" part that is not the case. As Robert Gibbs and others have pointed out this issue could be resolved one way or the other Mitt would simply come clean with the American people.
No one is asking him to do anything unprecedented. President Obama submitted 8 years of taxes the year he ran in 2008. Has Mitt done anything illegal? We don't truly know is the reality. His extreme reticence isn't helping him. Simply do what his own father set the precedent for and reveal his taxes and we can better assess the validity of his denials.
Even the saw about how the President is supposedly trying to deflect from the economy misses the point entirely showing again that they just don't get it. We got here by discussing the economy. Romney has been running not on his record as Governor of Massachusetts but his time at Bain.
Yet he won't reveal adequate information, he makes inflated claims of job creation and yet won't give us any evidence of this. Now we learn that he has either lied or committed a Felony on statements to the SEC about how long he worked at Bain. The whole question comes down to the economy. It's the actions of him and other wealthy millionaires and billionaires with taxes in Switzerland, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands that has contributed in no small way to the deficits Romney claims he can do a better job of closing than the President.
One of the big issues we have to decide going forward is how we plan to fund the government. It is highly problematic for someone like Romney who has engaged in aggressive tax evasion at an unprecedented level for a candidate for our highest office to be in a position to shape the fate of our future tax policy.
The substantive issue is that the rich need to pay their own fair share of taxes. The real reason Mitt won't release his taxes beyond just a year is that they will reveal just how little of his own fair share he has in fact paid.