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An evolving explanation on tax returns

Part of the problem with Mitt Romney's secrecy on tax returns is the number of unanswered questions, all of which deserve answers. But the other part to this is that Romney hasn't been able to explain why, exactly, he needs to keep the information hidden from voters.

Yesterday, the Republican came up with a new excuse, telling Parade Magazine his secrecy relates to his faith. "Our church doesn't publish how much people have given," Romney said. "This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one's financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It's a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church."


As a rule, when an explanation evolves over time, and a candidate struggles to keep his story straight, it's a bad sign, but this is especially foolish. Romney can't say -- or at least he can't be expected to be taken seriously when he says -- his tithing is "a very personal thing" that he "never intended ... to be known."

He does realize Google exists, right? Romney understands that it's easy to document countless examples of him boasting, not only about his tithing, but the specific percentage of his income he turns over to his church every year, doesn't he?

Indeed, Romney has already made some tax returns available, and they show how much he gave to his church. The release of more tax returns would only confirm what we already know.

I suspect this is a ploy to shut down conversation. We're supposed to say, "Oh, well, if it's related to religion, and Romney's faith is off-limits, the focus on the hidden tax returns ought to end immediately." It's a cheap move and I doubt it'll work.