Martin Bashir | August 27, 2012
>>> question that arises every time there's a discussion about mitt romney 's taxes. if there was no financial benefit, then why didn't he just get rid of all those exotic foreign investments in places like the cayman islands , switzerland, and luxembourg? after all, he had plenty of time to do so before the campaign started. wouldn't it make much sense to clean the slate, if you will, and spare yourself such a chronic political headache?
>> just a smart leader.
>> but why, if that's the case, did mr. romney bother sending so much of his money overseas in the first place? we're joined now by "the guardian's" ana marie cox and julian epstein. julian , if i may, if mr. romney got absolutely nothing, zero, from stashing millions of dollars overseas, if he was not evading taxes, then can you please explain to our viewers what the point of doing so in the first place was?
>> well, the phrase that comes to mind is, "oh, what a tangled web we weave."
>> that's not an explanation, julian .
>> it's surprising that romney would go there when it's so easy to just do a google search and to find that tax experts say that the purpose of cayman island investments is tax avoidance . let's just look at the facts here. in 2010 , romney had about $2.7 million in foreign earnings. he paid $54 -- he had a tax liability of $54,000. that's less than 2%. of that tax liability, he was able to use other foreign tax credits to pay virtually nothing on that $2.7 million in foreign investments .
>> okay, julian , i want --
>> now, explain to me --
>> i want, if i may, we made a slight mistake in our introduction to you. i want to play you the sound from mr. romney . we are going to play it originally before you started speaking. we're going to listen to it and then i would like you to continue, julian . listen to this.
>> well, first of all, there was no reduction, not one dollar reduction in taxes by virtue of having an account in switzerland or a cayman islands investment. those -- the dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. there was no tax savings at all. and the conduct of the trustee in making investments was entirely consistent with u.s. law . and all the taxes paid were those legally owed, and there was no tax savings by virtue of those entities.
>> so again, julian , what was the point?
>> well, again, this is -- he's parsing and using so many words, so that he can try to explain this away, in so many different ways. but at the end of the day , he's going to keep this story alive. and as i said before, $2.7 million in foreign investments in 2010 . his tax liability was $54,000, which was about 2%. of that liability, he was able to reduce that to virtually nothing after other foreign taxes and credits. if you explain to me, he had $2.7 million in investment income, how he could get that down to virtually zero tax liability, that's issue one. if you look at what he did with his domestic income in the year 2010 , he was able to, and this was reported by "the huffington post " and daily coast, he was able to claim $500,000 in tax deductions , or -- and credits, during that year, because he says he was an active participant in decisions that were being made by bain capital . now, as we've discussed on this show, he said in 1999 that he's had no activity, no substantial activity in bain from 1999 onwards. in that's the case, how is it that he is claiming active involvement in the year 2010 to come up with $500,000 in tax savings? you know --
>> it is remarkable.
>> -- he is keeping this story alive by spinning it a thousand ways. and as i said, what a tangled web we weave.
>> ana marie , we are learning a little more this weekend about ann romney 's role in her husband's campaign. i would like you to take a listen to her.
>> do you give your husband advice?
>> not on policy.
>> do you give advice on strategy? do you give advice on staff?
>> poor mitt, he gets advice from everybody, even me.
>> i was going to say, i didn't know she didn't give advice on policy.
>> yeah, i might weigh in on that too, sometimes. there's going to be cuts made to a lot of programs people aren't going to like. and it's just what the reality of the situation is right now.
>> that sounds to me like a policy position, seeking to make cuts to government contributions to people's lives. i mean, what is she talking about? of course she gives advice.
>> yeah, it would be be actually kind of odd if she didn't. i think the republican war on women, one of the problems with it, they do understand that once you're face to face with a woman, you can't really go to war with her, especially if it's not your wife. i'm not too disturbed that he listens to ann romney . i think he should listen to her more. i think her policies towards women would be a little more empathetic, if he did.
>> but ana marie , she just there said that she does not give him policy advice and then proceeds to do so. i'm not bothered, one way or another. but it seems ridiculous if you live your life with your marital adviser for so many years that you don't share views on politics. but she said, i don't give him any advice, and then she said, actually, there are going to be cuts.
>> reporter: in that case, there's either something in the romney household's water that causes people to flip-flop. maybe there's something in the air, if you're in the zone of mitt romney , you're going to change your mind within the space of a breath. i mean, like i said, i don't mind either way . i think it's -- i think that it's almost an odd question to ask if someone does give -- if a wife does give advice or not. i mean, we want people to make decisions after consulting with all the people in their lives. i think mitt romney 's problem is, he doesn't really make decisions based on the information that he gets. he makes decisions based on what kind of, you know, what the poll numbers are and what kind of constituency he's trying to pander to.
>> right. julian , mitt romney himself seems to know that he really could have avoided all of this the trouble over his taxes. take a listen.
>> yeah, i could have done that, but i did live my life, and i expect that by virtue of disclosing all these things, people can look at it and see whether that's something they're comfortable with or not. i'm not going to the try to hide who i am and try to manipulate my life to try and avoid the truth.
>> can you explain that for me, julian ?
>> yes, he's quoting popeye, i am who i am. but i think after you listen to him, he sounds a lot more like wimpy than he does popeye. you know, his father was -- you know, there is a saying, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. i think it's different in romney 's case. his father, during the 1964 republican convention , refused to play the race card . romney , with his reference to the birther movement, clearly is making some pretty untoward inferences. his father was very clear about the release of tax records, to avoid questions about what somebody has been doing. romney has not followed that advice, you know. and as david axelrod says, this is the most secretive candidate we've had since richard nixon . you know, this is a guy, he wants to talk about policy, he's got no policy to talk about. we can't get away from the tax issue. doesn't want to explain the archie bunker platform on which they're running, doesn't have an affirmative economic agenda to talk about, so i think he goes into the agenda with a very curious framing.
>> okay. well, ana marie describe the atmosphere down this. julian 's given us the political stroke policy predicament, that the romney candidacy is in, but what's it like down there in tampa?
>> i think the thing i'm noticing, when you don't have a positive policy to put forward, what you wind up doing is simply attacking the other side. so what i'm hearing today is simply a lot of mocking of obama, a lot of mocking of obama care. i went to one of the newt you panels this morning, and it consisted mainly of just people scaring the audience with facts that were disingenuous, not even facts, really, about what might happen to medicare. i think that that's sort of the only thing that binds this audience together. this constituency together right n now. i mean, they're having a lot of problems with the base. they're having a lot of problems with the coherent message. the only coherent message is a negative one.
>> i think that's a brilliant description of his candidacy, ana marie . ana marie cox and julian epstein, thank you so