Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hillary Must Show Now She Is Not A Tax Cheat

The disclosure earlier this week that Hillary Clinton loaned herself $5 million to keep her campaign afloat against Barack Obama, who, unlike her, never seems to have any trouble raising enough in contributions to keep his campaign solvent, has raised a lot of questions about the Clintons' personal wealth.

Just as with their White House records, the Clintons have been resisting making their wealth a matter of public disclosure. Financial requirements of disclosure for senators are very loose. All Hillary has had to do is to state that her assets are worth somewhere between $5 million and $25 million. This is not disclosure; it is titillation.

Although Obama has routinely released his income tax returns, Hillary has been refusing to do so, until, she says, she is nominated. But like Mitt Romney and Mike Kucinich, she may never be nominated. The question for the moment is that, since she is still in the race, we need to have this information to reach a complete judgment about her suitability for the presidency.

Let me be as direct about this as I can: I do not trust the Clintons and strongly suspect that not all their immense income since Bill Clinton was elected president was realized with complete legitimacy. It also is important to know just how much they have been paying in income taxes. We had to wait until years into his presidency to discover that Richard Nixon was paying little or nothing in taxes, due to the clever machinations of a Los Angeles tax accountant, Arthur Blech.

We need to know, it should hardly have to be said, as much about a presidential aspirant as we can, if we're to make a sound choice of candidates.

Hillary Clinton may be as pure as the driven snow. But I suspect she's not. There is something about her that reminds me of Nixon, and I remember well how troublesome it was to bring his career to an end and send him back to the San Clemente estate he had purchased for a comparatively small amount with the generous aid of personal friends and then improved with more than $1 million in public funds at a time when that was worth more than today.

Only four 2008 presidential candidates are now left--Clinton, Obama, John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Two of these folks--Clinton and Huckabee--come from Arkansas, which has, in recent years, been plagued with one scandal in its government after another.

So I think this is worth making a large issue over. If Clinton continues to refuse to provide her tax records, and also the records of her ill-fated health care plan in the first year of her husband's administration, then I think voters must take that into account in voting.

The tax records are important, because they ought to show, with some precision, just how much the Clintons are worth, and whether they are paying a fair amount of it in taxes. Maybe, they've got a Blech in their closet.

I think in the Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania primary campaigns, Obama should devote some attention to this. He's got a lot of things to talk about, he needs to flesh out his program, but this is certainly worth discussing in public. Maybe, he can smoke Clinton out, with a little help from an alert press corps.

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The returns divulged thus far by the California Secretary of State's office on last Tuesday's primary election show that hundreds of thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, and some counties, such as Los Angeles, have not as yet even reported how many they have to count. It is possible that up to two million votes are outstanding.

It is possible that Obama, who has gotten 42.4% of the votes counted this far, as against 52% for Clinton, may improve his percentage of the total vote, thus earning more delegates to the Democratic convention, and also winning more counties. Just yesterday, the slow count put Obama in the lead in his 19th county (of the state's 58). Trailing by four votes earlier in Lassen County, he is now ahead by 10. The only one of the 19 counties where Obama is now in front in Southern California is Santa Barbara. He leads in San Francisco and most of the Bay Area counties, as well as a number of North Coast and Sierra counties.

Joe Mathews has an interesting Op Ed page article in today's L.A. Times on the California Democratic results. But I think it puts too much emphasis on Okies and others who have moved to California, lower-income whites. The Asian and Latino votes cast in the election account for more than Clinton's 406,000-vote lead. Actually, among all white voters counted thus far, Obama carried the day. And the mail-ins and provisional votes that remain to be counted were cast much closer to the election or on the election day, after Obama support had surged. We should wait to see the final result before making sweeping judgments.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why don't strive for just a tad of impartiality and ask for full disclosure re Obama's indicted slumlord pal Tony Rezko who helped finance his nice house in Illinois and his minister's alleged embrace of Louis Farrakhan? That would give your readers a real choice of disclosures about candidates rather than just your biases and suspicions.

2/09/2008 9:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Simnacher said...

Why are you ignoring Ron Paul?
He is STILL running on the Republican ticket, you know.

And he is the one candidate who has NO skeletons in his closet, and he also has impeccable integrity and moral judgement.

2/10/2008 10:33 AM  

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