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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Romney’s Arrogant, Unprecedented Evasions of Disclosure

Mitt Romney has already made some history — no other presidential candidate in the modern era has refused to disclose more basic information about his policy proposals. As Thomas B. Edsall explains in The New York Times:

With the presidential election just two weeks away, Romney’s gamble may be paying off. He has failed to specify where he would wield the budget knife, and he has defied, with a striking degree of success, the relatively quiet group of people who have called for him to honor a host of traditional disclosure and campaign practices.
It hasn’t mattered. The Obama v. Romney all-poll average is now tied on RealClearPolitics and down to a tiny 0.4 point advantage for Obama on the Huffington Post politics section’s Election Dashboard.
Romney’s evasions of traditional disclosure have been ongoing and almost insolent.
In July, when Romney refused to release more than two years of tax returns — in contrast to previous candidates of both parties, among them his father — there was a huge uproar. National Journal published a list of 17 prominent Republicans, including four sitting senators, who called on him to release 10 or more years. Editorials in papers across the country denounced Romney’s secrecy. The conservative columnist George Will declared that Romney “must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” Will warned Romney that he was losing the argument “in a big way.”
But it is Romney who appears to have won the argument. His tax returns are a dead issue, except on the left and liberal fringe.

Edsall’s article goes on to explain that “Romney has repeatedly left unaddressed and unresolved a fundamental contradiction between his proposal to cut tax rates across the board by 20 percent and his claim that his fiscal policies will put the nation on a path toward a balanced budget.” Edsall’s article goes on to fault Romney for an almost complete lack of candor regarding his budget proposals, including his $2 trillion hike in military spending. Esdall goes on to add,

If Romney wins and actually tries to reduce deficits to the levels he has described during the campaign, he would have to make drastic cuts in widely backed discretionary spending programs. These programs would not just suffer cuts. Homeland security, the administration of justice, environmental protection, the National Institutes of Health: They would all face the prospect of being gouged or slaughtered.

Edsall explains further that “A Romney victory will make it possible for future candidates to take the same path of secretiveness. Non-disclosure could become the norm…Romney has demonstrated that the press is relatively toothless — that a candidate who is willing to take the heat for a while can outlast the media.”
At least some of the fault, however, lies with the lapdog media, who have given Romney a free ride. As Edsall notes,

To accommodate both the conservative wing of his party and the demands of mainstream voters has required Romney to dodge tough questions. In many ways he has gotten away with it…even judged by the standards of past dichotomies between election pledges and the realities of governing, Romney has placed himself in an exceptionally untenable position. This season’s rhetoric has exposed the spuriousness of the inflated promises of the Republican nominee.

Candidate Romney has set up a test of how much political arrogance and deceit of the rankest kind a presidential candidate can get away with. It’s up to Democrats to work unceasingly over the next two weeks for a turnout to end his shameless charade.

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