Martin Bashir | August 17, 2012
>>> it's week one with paul ryan on the gop ticket coming to a close and oh, what a week it has been. here he is being introduced live at his second victory rally of the day in virginia. between the heckling at the state fair and the hot dogs in ohio, it's clear that congressional republicans budget guru, he's been drinking a lot of the the romney kool-aid.
>> we're going to be offering ideas to get this economy growing. specifically, you see it right there on the wall. the romney plan for a stronger middle class .
>> which of these do you think is better? bankrupt or solvent?
>> we don't resent success.
>> we have been a nation that has celebrated success.
>> the chamber of commerce just recently surveyed their members.
>> if we haven't gone through piece by piece -- i want to get wonky on you, but we haven't run the numbers on that plan.
>> so, ryan is learning the romney camp doesn't like to get specific. the obama campaign today said let's make a deal with romney . offering to call off the dogs if he'll provide five years of tax returns . in an open letter from obama's campaign manager to romney 's quote, he says, if the governor will release five years of returns, i commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more neither in ads nor in public communications nor commentary for the rest of the campaign. making the offer in light of team romney 's assertion that opponents will never be satisfied, asking for more and more and more leading to more attacks. it's a claim ann romney repeated in an interview with "rock center" last night.
>> we have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. but, the more we release, the more we get attacked. the more we get questioned, pushed. so, we have done what's legally required and there's going to be no more tax releases given.
>> it comes a day after romney once again faced those pesky tax questions as he tried to explain his medicare plan with a white board .
>> the fascination with taxes i paid i find to be very small minded. i never paid less than 13%.
>> but under one of paul ryan 's budget plans, romney would pay only 1%. that's right. mitt romney 's worth $200 million, but under paul ryan 's budget, he'd pay only 1% in taxes while middle class families would pay $1,000 more.
>> not exactly how romney thought that was going to turn out. now while that ad talks about a ryan tax plan, it got a little bit harder for mitt romney to sell his plan to voters. the tax policy center again ran the numbers and this time, they included a change from team romney . and the result? not only does it not add up, it gives an even bigger tax break to millionaires while increasing taxes on the middle class by even more. romney calls the report garbage, but still no new details on how he plans to pay for a massive tax break , but he says it's possible. in an interview, he says quote, i will follow a model similar to simpson bowles and work with congress to figure out which we should apply to reduce deductions. in other words, you just have to trust him because he's not going to tell you much more. get right to her panel. msnbc analyst, jonathan alter and msnbc contributor, robert traynham . hello, gentlemen.
>> hello, karen .
>> so, robert, i've got to start with you, my friend. does governor romney think he can get through this whole campaign without giving any specifics? we've heard that refrain, we haven't run the numbers or item not going to give you the specifics. does he think it's going to work?
>> i don't think so. i think he's trying to kick the can down the road through some more debates. i readily admit he needs to be more specific. but let's be honest. it's august. a lot of people are not paying attention. a lot of people are paying attention to the olympics and on vacation. however, when labor day comes around, when the conventions in, he has to be more specific as it relates to his own personal taxes, but also in term of my taxes, your taxes and everyone else's.
>> at the same time, the longer he goes with these questions unanswered, the more times they give this answer, well, there's something in there that could be used against us, that plays into this narrative, there's something they're hiding.
>> i have to take him at his word that he did not break any laws. most people don't like to pay taxes. most people probably just pay the bare minimum and i think president obama , karen finney, me, jonathan, everybody falls into that category. now, having said that, you're running for president of the united states . your father and others sent this precedent of transparency. i get that. i'm not exactly sure the average american out there really cares at the end of the day . now, they do care whether or not perhaps maybe he broke the law. but nothing indicates that.
>> you know, jonathan, i do love this. everything that was legally required, that feels like a very careful parsing, actually, i think it was lawrence o'donnell last night made the point getting some of these tax shelters , that's legal. it's not a question of legality and i actually think voters really do care that it's not a small minded question.
>> no, i don't think it is. the most important comment made this week was by paul ryan on sunday when bob schieffer asked him how many years of returns did the romney campaign ask of you when you were being vetted and his answer was sort of under the mike. was -- several. in other words, romney required ryan to provide him much more information than he's providing the taxpayers and the voters. why should we be entitled to less information about mitt romney than mitt romney required of paul ryan ?
>> right --
>> this question is not going to dominate this campaign. and i think by you know, by answering the basic question, what percentage should you pay in taxes yesterday, he can tough this out now. i don't think he's going to be required to release any more pressure and i also don't think he's going to be all that much more specific. but the basic theme of your show today, karen , trust . that's going to be central. after all the math is is done, it's going to be who do you trust on taxes? who you trust on medicare.
>> the white house has weighed in and so i don't, and the campaign has weighed in, so i don't see this issue going away. i think they're going to continue to try to keep it in the center and robert, i mean, at some point, you know, there's either they're going to have to give some answers or somebody's going to have a moment where you just get sick of being asked that question because the other thing that strikes me in the answers we've seen, there's sort of a growing tension of why am i being asked this question. if you're not going to dwif the answer, then prepared to get asked the question.
>> when john mccain was looking at his vice presidential picks, mitt romney had to give 10 to 15 years worth of taxes. senator mccain has said there's nothing in mitt romney 's taxes that is suggesting he did not pay taxes. we can argue that john mccain 's a pretty admiral guy.
>> did include 2009 .
>> let's talk about 2009 and why it's so important. why jim messina says let's make it five years.
>> because a lot of wealthy people lost a lot of people in 2008 when the market crashed and they can arrange their returns in many cases so they pay.
>> legally. nothing in taxes.
>> it's all legal, by the way.
>> but here's a critical point. i think what mitt romney is doing is having a solid and specific answer going into the debates. he's not going to be able to be vague when he's asked this question. he needs to come up with a much more credible answer that the american people can understand. it's not really a matter of fact. it's about trust . ronald reagan used to say trust but verify . i think what the american people want, i think i trust you, but i need some information to back up what you're saying.
>> now he's saying that he thinks 13% is fair. there's this question of what he may or may not have paid in 2009 and under paul ryan 's plan, he paid .82% and they seem to be on the same page.
>> to me, that's going to be the bigger issue than this back and forth on these taxes. i think he's gone as far as he's going to go and the democrats will keep touting him on it, but they've gotten most of the votes they're going to get. but in a question of what will happen if romney and ryan are elected and how romney has pledged to cut taxes for the wealthy another 20% on top of the bush tax cuts , in other words, to take all this money that is being cut from social programs, from retirement programs and shove that to already wealthy individuals. that's the basic choice that the country faces. i think sometimes we get a little sidelined on to these issues. as opposed to --
>> i think that's what it comes down to is a question -- what's it mean for me. you have the romney was disputing the tax policy centers assertion -- revised you know their models have been based, economic adviser, so they went ahead and did the revisions and found it's actually worse for the middle class .
>> i think there's a couple of things. governor romney and very rich people pay taxes on three parts of their income. the labor, the capital gains and they pay taxes on the dividends. so to suggest that just because we're sending back the ryan plan does raise taxes on the wealthy, the wealthy have paid taxes -- three times.
>> but the problem is the tax policy center , said essential is there are now enough loopholes that you can close to make up the laws.
>> they haven't been specific about any of the hoop holes.
>> and said by the way, we're not going to close those right away. but just trust us . trust me.
>> they've shown no specificity, no courage. paul ryan , a lot of people, he's the greatest. he hasn't told us a single loophole he would close. except for poor people . we know they would take it on the chin.
>> i'm sorry. we've got to leave it there. thank you both and trust me, you're going to want to stay with us. next, the four letter word that just doesn't going away.
>> bain capital .
>> bain capital .
>> bain. you know what i love about this country? trick