We still don't know exactly why Mitt Romney set up a shell corporation in Bermuda, stashed cash in the Caymans, and opened a Swiss bank account. One running theory is that the Republican hoped to avoid paying U.S. taxes through offshore investments in notorious tax havens.
But today one of Romney's allies stood up for him, arguing that even if Romney was trying to circumvent American tax laws, what's so bad about that?
Mitt Romney shouldn't be criticized for using off-shore tax havens because "it's really American to avoid paying taxes, legally," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. [...]
Graham argued that Congress is responsible for tax avoidance because it has crafted such convoluted rules and said he was fine with Romney's taking advantage of the loopholes.
"As long as it was legal, I'm OK with it," Graham said. "I don't blame anybody for using the tax code to their advantage."
So, let me get this straight. So long as Romney didn't commit any actual felonies, the American mainstream shouldn't mind that they had to pay their tax bill, but Romney could use some creative accounting tricks, send his money to the Cayman Islands, and magically lower his own tax bill in ways average folks can't.
And this is a defense? From one of Romney's Republican allies?
For that matter, as the Obama campaign's Ben LaBolt argued over the weekend, "Mitt Romney is effectively saying he hasn't technically broken any laws by keeping his money in offshore tax havens. Here's the question: is not technically breaking the law a high enough standard for someone who wants to be president of the United States?"
If Lindsey Graham is parroting the Romney campaign's new talking points, I'm afraid Republicans might need a better argument.