William Cohan, who writes about Wall Street for the Washington Post and Bloomberg, asks a straightforward question: why does Romney have "only" +/- $250 million rather than the billions other private equity "big players"? Was he super-generous or is he a super-liar?
Cohan describes the aura of secrecy surrounding Romney's fortune, his tax returns, any clues as to his earnings and the size of his fortune.
We may never know the full extent of Romney’s fortune; he has not disclosed a longer history of his tax returns, and R. Bradford Malt, the lawyer at Ropes & Gray who manages the Romneys’ trusts, did not respond to an e-mail I sent seeking comment. But to me, while Romney’s departure from Bain and his willingness to spread his firm’s riches around may account for some of the difference between his wealth and that of other private-equity barons, I still can’t help but suspect that the $250 million figure underestimates Romney’s true wealth.
Does it really matter if Romney is worth $250 million, $1 billion or more? Rich is rich after all, right? I think it does, politically as well as substantively.
Politically, the alternatives are not great. If he were perceived as the first real billionaire to run for president, it would only exacerbate popular doubts about how someone living so removed from the concerns of average Americans — or even just 47 percent of them — could effectively represent them.
And if he is not a billionaire, doesn’t it suggest that he was not a great private-equity investor after all, thus torpedoing his claim to understand how to create jobs and get the economy back on track?
Something to keep in mind on Nov. 6. ...Cohan, WaPo