Why Mitt Romney won't release his tax returns

Prediction:  Mitt Romney will never release his tax returns.

This Sunday, George Will put his finger on it with this sentence:
"The cost of not releasing the returns are clear.  Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them."  -George Will, This Week, 7/15/2012
Those "higher costs" probably involve information that would automatically disqualify him for the Presidency.  

Several have speculated that there would be return years where Mitt Romney paid little, if any taxes.  Others have speculated that more evidence of off-shore accounts and tax-avoidance shenanigans would come to light.  But I don't believe that would prevent Mr. Romney from releasing them.

After all, it would give him an easy opportunity to shed light on what happens for the rich in the tax system.  He could educate Americans, and actually connect with them, over how the tax system needs to be changed to improve equality in the system.  Far from a losing proposition, it could be a big win to release tax returns that show how the rich interact with the government on tax day, with Mitt Romney as the courageous insider who seeks to overturn the status quo.

But that's not why Mitt Romney won't release his taxes.  The question is:  What would cost him the election?

Let's itemize what we already know about Mitt Romney.  
  • He's rich.  
  • He's an effective manager.  
  • He's ambitious.  
  • He ran money all around the world in order to maximize profits.  
  • He's heavily invested in and connected to Goldman Sachs... Uh, oh.
Mitt Romney was probably invested in several of the kinds of products that caused the financial collapse.    Remember credit default swaps?  Collateralized debt obligations?  Derivatives?  Mitt Romney probably had money in some of these vehicles.

In 2008 and 2009, Mitt Romney probably profited from the TARP bailout.  Goldman Sachs has made record profits since the bailout, and there's no reason to believe that Mitt Romney didn't make record profits as well.

There is very little more bi-partisan than hatred of the TARP bailout, and the financial system excesses that led us to the financial crisis.  If Mr. Romney's tax returns show he benefited while the rest of the country suffered, Romney would likely lose in a landslide not seen since 1984.

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