Headline of the day goes to Huffington Post: “Harry Reid: Bain Investor Told Me That Mitt Romney ‘Didn’t Pay Any Taxes For 10 Years’”
A couple caveats. Neither Reid nor his office will divulge the name of the Bain investor in question. In fact, Reid himself acknowledges that he has no idea if his anonymous source is correct, or has any way of knowing this information. You’d think if Democrats had disgruntled Bain investors reaching out to them, they’d give them some media coaching and put them before the press, on the record.
Additionally, the Romney campaign has come close to denying speculation that Romney paid no taxes whatsoever.
So — grain of salt.
But without suggesting that Romney deserves these sorts of attacks, or is getting what’s coming, he’s going to be hard pressed to demand retractions and circumspection from people in Reid’s position. By refusing to release more returns, he’s created an incentive for senior Democrats to lob incendiary accusations into the public sphere. Even if they’re totally baseless, it ratchets up the pressure on him to prove they’re false. But he can’t do that without releasing the very information he’s consistently refused to release.
How do you disprove that you didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years? You release 10 years of tax returns. By sheer coincidence I’m sure, that’s exactly what Democrats want Mitt to release anyhow.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.