- - Monday, May 7, 2012

Do you remember what’s on page 169 of your income tax return? Neither does Mitt Romney.

At a town hall-style meeting Monday in Euclid, Ohio, the GOP presidential candidate got this pointed question about his investments: In this age of tough foreign competition, could Romney explain the “over $1.5 million in foreign tax credits” he received since 2000?

“I’m not familiar with that,” Mr. Romney told the man who asked. The crowd booed. “I didn’t think I paid any foreign income taxes, but I’ll be happy to take a look at it.”

In fact, Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, paid more than $1.2 million in foreign taxes on so-called “passive investments” from 2000 through 2010, and paid about $800,000 in taxes on general income to unspecified countries. That’s according to the couple’s tax returns.

Their foreign tax bills entitled them to more than $1.5 million in tax credits in the United States since 2000, thanks to Internal Revenue Service rules that prevent businesses and investors from being doubly taxed on money they earn abroad.

Mr. Romney’s GOP primary opponents and President Obama have sought to make Mr. Romney’s overseas earnings an issue in the campaign. Just last week, Mr. Obama ran a TV ad slamming the former Massachusetts governor for having Swiss bank accounts.

Mr. Romney’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ARKANSAS

Green Party picks ex-Globetrotter for seat

LITTLE ROCK — The Green Party of Arkansas says it has nominated former Harlem Globetrotter Fred Smith for a state House seat after he was ruled ineligible to run for the Democrats.

The Green Party chose Mr. Smith as its candidate for House District 50 at its nominating convention Sunday.

Mr. Smith was elected to the House on a Democratic ticket but resigned last year because of a felony theft conviction. He filed in March to run as a Democrat again, but the party filed suit to keep him off the ballot.

A Chicot County judge dismissed Mr. Smith’s theft conviction, but a judge in Pulaski County ruled he couldn’t run as a Democrat because that conviction wasn’t cleared when he filed.

Mr. Smith will face Democratic Rep. Hudson Hallum in November. No Republicans are running.

CALIFORNIA

Fed court reverses order for VA overhaul

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that any such overhaul needs to be ordered by Congress or the president.

The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.

The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA’s “unchecked incompetence” in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.

The new decision said courts are powerless to implement the fixes sought by two veterans groups that filed the lawsuit against the VA in 2007.

In the strongly worded ruling in May, the 9th Circuit said it takes the department an average of four years to fully provide the mental health benefits owed veterans. The court also said it often takes weeks for a suicidal vet to get a first appointment.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski dissented from that ruling, writing that the ruling trampled congressional limits on judicial review of VA decisions.

Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth filed the lawsuit in San Francisco federal court in 2007. After a two-week trial in 2008, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti said he was powerless to act because Congress narrowly limited the authority courts have in reviewing VA benefit decisions.

PENNSYLVANIA

Altmire backs ex-rival Critz in House race

PITTSBURGH — Rep. Jason Altmire is formally endorsing Rep. Mark S. Critz after Mr. Critz beat the fellow western Pennsylvania Democrat in a heated primary election race.

The incumbents were forced to face each other when the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew congressional district maps to account for population shifts.

Mr. Altmire was the early favorite in the newly configured 12th Congressional District. Mr. Critz made a late surge and won by 4 points in the primary two weeks ago.

Mr. Critz thanked Mr. Altmire for his support at a news conference Monday in Pittsburgh in which other western Pennsylvania Democratic leaders also gave their endorsements. Mr. Altmire said Mr. Critz was committed to creating jobs and fighting for working families.

Mr. Critz will face Republican lawyer Keith Rothfus this fall in the general election. Mr. Rothfus nearly beat Mr. Altmire in 2010.

INDIANA

Early voting down in Lugar’s GOP primary

INDIANAPOLIS — Early voting has wrapped up ahead of Indiana’s primary election, with the Republican Senate race between Sen. Richard G. Lugar and a tea party-backed state treasurer not grabbing voter interest like the Democratic presidential primary did four years ago.

The early voting period at county election offices ended at noon Monday. State figures show that through Friday about 89,000 people had cast ballots for Tuesday’s primary.

That’s down some 40 percent from the same time ahead of the 2008 primary when Indiana’s record for primary voter turnout was shattered after Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton targeted the state in their presidential campaigns.

Mr. Lugar is fighting to win the GOP nomination for a seventh term in the Senate against Richard Mourdock, who argues the senator is too moderate for the state.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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