Warning: Pants on Fire hazard (Japanese firefighter, via Wikipedia)

Mitt Romney clearly wants the issue of his tax returns to go away.  At the same time he adamantly refuses to do the one thing that would make the issue go away: release more returns. So Romney’s newest strange attempt to get the media to drop the issue without him actually providing any real transparency is to claim he has looked at his tax returns for us and we should take his word that he paid at least 13 percent in taxes every year. From the Washington Post:

 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that he has paid a tax rate of at least 13 percent on his income in each of the last 10 years, offering his fullest explanation to date of his tax status.

In response to repeated demands from Democrats that he release his tax returns, Romney has so far made public only last year’s tax records, which showed he paid 13.9 percent on his 2010 income. He has said he will also release his 2011 return but has no plans to make public additional information.

[...]

“I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year,” he said.

Since Romney has made some bold claims about his tax returns but refused to provide the proof he clearly has available, I’m anxiously waiting for PolitiFact to declare this statement a “Pants on Fire.“  I won’t be holding my breath or the fire hose, though.

I strongly suspect this latest move by Romney is not going to stop reporters from repeatedly asking the tax return question of him, his running mate, his surrogates and his wife. By making this statement about his tax returns, Romney is effectively admitting the issue has traction, which in turn makes his continued refusal to finally put an end to the speculation by simply releasing more returns appear even more bizarre.