Several months ago, John Kerry solemnly vowed that openness would be the hallmark of his presidency. Now, it's time to show his sincerity by disclosing all of his family's dealings with the Internal Revenue Service.
Presidential candidates are under heavy pressure to release their tax returns because the returns give clues about how the candidate might govern.
If a candidate were paid large consulting fees by
abortion clinics, for example, that might suggest he would appoint pro-choice judges. If he donated $1 million of his own money to the American Cancer Society, maybe health care would be a priority after the election as well as before.
Kerry has released his return. He and his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry, refuse to release her returns, however. Their justification is that they keep their finances, as well as primary residences, separate.
However, there is no way he could maintain his lavish lifestyle extravagant jet-setting and $32 million worth of homes on his stated income of $400,000 a year. Heinz Kerry has a fortune worth an estimated $525 million, and that subsidizes Kerry's self-indulgence. He effectively admitted that when he loaned his campaign millions of dollars by mortgaging a share of their Boston mansion, which she bought with cash before they were married.
Everybody understands what is going on.
As Jay Leno quipped on "The Tonight Show": "One surprise on the John Kerry tax return. Under primary income, he wrote, 'I married it.'"
Voters have access to George W. and Laura Bush's tax records, and they want the same information about Kerry and his wife.
Precedent is there. Geraldine Ferraro tried to avoid releasing her husband's returns in 1984. The New York Times wouldn't stand for it and she finally made them available.
Kerry also runs into double-standard problems. In his 1990 Senate race, he demanded his opponent's tax records. "Why doesn't he just release them?" Kerry demanded. "What is he hiding?"
Those are salient questions even more today than they were 14 years ago.
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
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