Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
3 years ago

Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released

(CNN) – The fight over how best to tax the American people turned to the personal finances of the two competing presidential candidates Friday, as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released their 2011 tax returns and called for all-but-certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney to do the same.

The move comes after a week of aggressive promotion from the White House and Obama's reelection campaign on the so-called "Buffett Rule," a measure increasing the tax rate to 30% for Americans making more than $1 million per year.

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The tax returns released by the White House showed Obama and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, made $789,674 in income in 2011, and paid an effective federal tax rate of 20.5%. Biden and his wife made $379,035 and paid $87,900 in total federal tax.

In a post on the White House blog accompanying the returns' release, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wrote the president's proposed "Buffett Rule" would actually increase the percentage of income the Obamas would pay in taxes.

"Under the President's own tax proposals, including the expiration of the high-income tax cuts and limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it," Carney wrote.

Jim Messina, the campaign manager of Obama's reelection bid, called on Romney to release his 2011 tax return in a statement.

"Mitt Romney's defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question - what does he have to hide?" Messina wrote.

He continued, "Governor Romney may try once again to play by his own set of rules, but Americans will hold him accountable for trying to hide his record."

The deadline for filing 2011 taxes is Tuesday, though taxpayers may request an extension from the Internal Revenue Service.

Anticipating the pressure to release Romney's tax returns, the former Massachusetts governor's campaign said Obama's campaign was diverting attention from a failed economic record, adding that Romney would release his documents as soon as they're filed.

"It's no surprise with the worst job creation record in modern history that President Obama would try to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "Gov. Romney has already released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes. He will release his full 2011 return when it is filed."

Romney's tax returns previously arose as an issue in January, when Democrats along with fellow Republican presidential candidates pressured Romney's campaign to release the documents.

On January 24, Romney's team released his 2010 tax return, as well as an estimate for 2011. Opponents quickly derided the disclosure as paltry, noting that other candidates, including Romney's father during his run for the GOP nomination in 1968, released a decade's worth of tax returns.

The forms the campaign did release showed Romney earned $42.7 million over the past two years and paid $6.2 million in taxes. Over the two years, Romney's effective tax rate - the percentage of his income that he owed in federal income taxes - was 14.5%.

Democrats, eager to align themselves with middle class voters, quickly assailed Romney for paying a low tax rate while earning millions of dollars.

On Thursday, Biden slammed Romney at a campaign stop in New Hampshire for promoting a "Romney Rule" on taxes that would benefit only millionaires like him – a harsh comparison to the "Buffett Rule" Democrats are promoting.

"The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do," Biden said Thursday. "The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year."

Obama's 2010 tax return showed the president earned $1,728,096 and paid $453,770 in income taxes.

CNN's Jim Acosta and Paul Steinhauser and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Taxes
soundoff (390 Responses)
  1. Taran

    @The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth
    Obama and the Democrats are now demonizing "rich people" the way they have demonized businesses and their opponents. Lefitsts ALWAYS need that demon to attack to push their bogus, counter productive agenda that doesn't encourage people to work harder to get ahead in life. All they want to do is further their victimhood mentality, which makes it somebody elses fault that you may have less or nothing. It can never be anything that is your fault. What a great lesson to be teaching our children. How absolutely pathetic and a sure quick trip to the bottom for this country.
    ----------------------------------
    It is what community organizers do, create "victims."

    April 13, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. davey

    Soetoro's make $1,655,106 in 2005. I certainly understand them not having the luxury of MOOOcelle staying home with the kids.

    April 13, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. ReallY!!?

    Dems wnat to give women, free contraception, free childcare, free food, free housing to encourage them to have as many kids to get more money so women can have an easier life.
    Do women think we should borrow against their children's future to take care of them now?

    If u tax the rich 100% u would not even make a dent into our debt.

    April 13, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Alex

    @Fubarack: "Looks like Obama is a tax cheat, he failed to pay the % he is trying to push on others. And Mitt generated 6 mil to pay these losers salaries. Go figure." You aren't paying attention – that % isn't signed into law yet. So how can he be a tax cheat. Does anyone voluntarily pay more than what they're required to? Anyone? Now if the law gets signed and he doesn't pay the % then he's a cheat. Until then, you're just grasping at straws to justify your username.

    April 13, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. ReallY!!?

    You know what. I'm sick and tired of jealous, classwarfare people that think rich people don't have to work hard. How the heck do u think they got rich in the 1st place?!! Did it fall out of the sky for them? Is it the rich fault you u refuse to go to school? Is it the rich's fault that even though contraception is free at any public clinic, u had 3 kids b/4 graduating high, school? Is it the rich fault that you have no job skill but to waitress to take care of said kids? Is it the rich fault u don't want to work? Why are your poor choices my responsibility? I work hard to take care of my family. How about everyone else do the same? No instead this admin launches classwarfare instead of addressing the reall causes of poverty.

    Look at the pattern of the majority of rich people like Jobs, Zuckerberg, Buffet, Romney, Bush, & Obama. They are educated, hardworking, driven and worked their asses off to get where they are today. This is a country where if u sacrifice in the begining it pays off. But not any more. Just vote Democrat and sit on your couch with your hands out!!

    Romney gave away his inheritance to charity and started fr scratch. U don't hear that. They had make their own way.

    April 13, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    @Truth – "Loan Guarantee" means the taxpayer picks up the tab if it is not paid back. In short, a "loan guarantee" is effectively a grant for the recipient. If the recipient cannot pay it back, then the recipient doesn't have to and the taxpayer picks up the tab because they guaranteed the loan.

    Since the money was originally coming from the taxpayer, this means that that that taxpayer needs to pay the taxpayer back, which is a complete wash. See? Kah beesh? Nice, and neat. You really need to pay closer attention to O'Reilly and Hannity because they've both covered this in such exquisite fine detail.

    April 13, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Wolf needs to go

    So lets see...FOX and even CNN are making a big deal at the fact that Obama only paid 20.5 tax rate... "while trying to push the Buffet rule." When was the last time making $750K make qaulify you as earning over a million dollars? How many other people making $750K also gave 22% to charity? Hey... if these clowns want to keep spouting off stupid comments, power to them... because the truth is always more powerful then these hateful lies.

    April 13, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Alex wrote to Fubarack:

    @Fubarack: "Looks like Obama is a tax cheat, he failed to pay the % he is trying to push on others. And Mitt generated 6 mil to pay these losers salaries. Go figure." You aren't paying attention – that % isn't signed into law yet. So how can he be a tax cheat. Does anyone voluntarily pay more than what they're required to? Anyone? Now if the law gets signed and he doesn't pay the % then he's a cheat. Until then, you're just grasping at straws to justify your username.
    --------------–
    You both overlook one critical point. The law only applies to incomes over $1 million per year. Obama's income wouldn't qualify. But, MItt Romney's would qualify. Right wing conspiracy theorists should be having a field day if they were capable of simple arithmetic and original thoughts.

    April 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth.. (not the imposter)

    @Taran – It is what community organizers do, create "victims."
    --------------
    So when did the 1% become victims in your eyes??? I will work the rest of my life and not make as much as Romney did last year. Do I begrudge him that income? Heck no! But.... I sure want him and the other 1% to pay their fair share of the tax burden.

    April 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. souptwins

    Why do all the news outlets report Obama's taxes for one year and report Romney's are reporting lumping 2 years together? At least make the reports for the same period of time. It makes things look far more lop-sided than they really are. The whole subject is a straw-man argument on Obama's part. Romney wasn't in congress and had nothing to do with the current tax codes. Obama extended the Bush tax cuts. If they have a problem with Romney's taxes, they should be griping at Congress. Also, Romney's capital gains proposal calls for cuts only for those earning less than $200K -- which includes the middle class not him. I'm firmly in the middle class and paid an effective tax rate of 8% or half what Romney paid.

    April 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    He just wants to appease his wealthy contributors and corporations. He'll change his mind as soon as his accountant makes changes to his tax returns before they are released. FLIP-FLOP-FLAP

    April 13, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair

    SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Truth, Fair, and Four: seriously, who pays you to post your delusional drivel? Thanks for the laughs, though.
    ------
    Hottie, your question is better directed towards Rudy. He's the one that's pulling stuff out and throwing it at a wall to see what sticks. I mean seriously, have you followed the arguement on this thread? He's been COMPLETELY dishonest and without fact on EVERY point he's made. The last one – "Solyndra was a grant" – well, that's patently absurd.

    Hottie, disagree with my politics all you want, but for crying out loud don't buy into Rudy's complete fabrications just because you happen to politically support the same man. You run the risk of making yourself look very foolish were you to repeat such blather in public.

    April 13, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    "Obama and the Democrats are now demonizing "rich people" the way they have demonized businesses and their opponents."

    Really? They "demonized" business so badly the Dow is finally close to making up for the losses caused by the Bush reign of error. And the auto industry is soaring. Unemployment is dropping. So where is the "demonizing" you keep lying about?

    And, BTW, community organizers don't create victims. However they do organize and stand up for the poor and working class people who have been attacked by your GOBP cult. That's probably where you get confused.

    April 13, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. Chut Pata

    So basically Romney makes 100 times more than me, and pays 10% less than me. No wonder super rich always bankroll Republicans.

    April 13, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    I want to see the returns for his sons - Trigg, Tagg, Twigg, and Morgan and Stanley.

    April 13, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    ReallY!!? wrote on page 9:

    The back and forth on Solydra shows both parties to be stupid. Solydra was given stimulus money as a loan. What neither of u seem to realize is Solydra's LOAN GUARANTEE was modified so that the head investor George Kaiser would be 1st in line to collect not the taxpayers if Solyndra went belly up as it did.
    ----------------
    Hey! You spoiled my surprise and let the cat out. I know what I'm talking about. They don't get it.

    See what I mean, Fair and Truth. It was a "Loan Guarantee" in name only. It was effectively a grant.

    April 13, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. ReallY!!?

    Edward
    Obama wants the Bush Tax cut to expire plane and simple. That affects anyone making over $200k/yr. Obama made over $1mill last yr and did not pay much either. He should lead by example if he strongly believe the crap he is spewing.

    Secondly Bufftett wants to pay more in taxes? Really? Why is Warren Buffet suing the IRS, challenging his tax burden for one of his companies? U lapdogs that hang on Obama's every work as though it was the gospel/truth. What a bunch of koolaid drinkers u all are!!!

    April 13, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I'm a stay at home mom and haha I don't have to labor a day in my life like the millions of American women across this country because my billionaire hubby Mitty provides me with a safety net where I spend millions in jewelry and fancy things every year! Hahahaha!

    April 13, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Taran

    @Larry L
    The math for running a modern nation won't work without a progressive tax rate. Ronald Reagan knew that and encouraged the Congress to retain a fair and progressive system of taxation. I don't think Warren Buffet is jealous – he can simply do math and read history.
    ------------------------------------------–
    I agree. An alternative would be to do away with income taxes all together and have a flat tax on all goods purchased. Everyone would pay their "fair share." The rich would pay more taxes for their luxury items and the less wealthy would of course, pay less as they would be purchasing less expensive items. As long as it is not done the way britain did it. They came up with the idea of the "VAT" tax, but after it was implemented, decided to keep the income tax as well. Which is why the brits pay so much more in taxes than we do. By the way, if Buffett thinks the rich should pay more taxes, why is he fighting paying his back taxes?

    April 13, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. stat guy

    To anagram_kid,
    Here is how you can send extra to the government so don't tell me they are not set up for donations

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    April 13, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. ReallY!!?

    Rudy NYC
    The bigger point is this classwarfare & the illusion that Obama cares for the poor and that is why he is going after the rich, or that Healthcare was passed to help the poor. NO. Obama and the Dems want the majority of people on welfare so they will give Dems all the power to keep getting their freebies.

    Obama says one thing and does another. Look at wall street? How is that doing. Wall Street supported Obama overwhelmingly. To say the rich only supports GOP show just how ignorant these people are here posting about greedy rich repubs!! Is Buffet not rich? Is Zuckerberg not rich? How about Jobs? and all of Hollywood. R they not rich yet they support Obama. They all know this classwarfare is empty rhetoric to gin up the uninformed losers to vote for them. Explain to me why poverty has grown so much under Obama. U idiots that voted for him. Why r u still poor? He has had over 3yrs, 2 of which he had full control of the HOuse & Senate and could have passed the Buffet rule, let the Bush tax cut expire etc and all povery would be gone. Instead Obama himself extended the Bush tax cut. So give me a freaking break about the rich not paying their fair share when the IRS shows that the rich pays over 70% of the federal income taxes!!!

    April 13, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Taran wrote, "By the way, if Buffett thinks the rich should pay more taxes, why is he fighting paying his back taxes?"

    ReallY!!? wrote, "Why is Warren Buffet suing the IRS, challenging his tax burden for one of his companies?"
    -------------------
    In back to back replies, written, that was. Things that make you say, "How come every right wing blogger isn't sounding off about that like they way they do over Solyndra?" Most especially in an article about the Buffett Rule. Hmm. You think?

    April 13, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Ms. Romney said her job as a stay home mom was a full-time job and that she worked as hard as a mom who had to balance the household budget, send the kids off to school, come home and cook dinner, prepare breakfast and lunch, help the kids with their homework and be on time for that conference call in the next town where most working American moms have to commute and deal with the daily rigorius hostle and bustle of society! Really? So you work as hard as the working mons of our society while you had an illegal nanny raising your kids, one picking up your groceries, another doing your laundry and preparing your meals? Really? You need to go find a real job woman!

    April 13, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. MP in VA

    Stop trying to say that President Obama is "demonizing" the rich. He is clearly not. The reality of the current tax system is this: the rich will always have to pay a higher percentage of the taxes under our system–ALWAYS. They payed a heck of a lot more 50 years ago. There comes a point, however, when the percentage the rich pay will be too low to sustain our government–any government, whether it be a Republican one or a Democratic administration. When the Bush tax cuts took effect, we reached that point where the upper income tax rate went below what our government could sustain, and our coffers were wiped out. What the current Administration is doing is trying to get that percentage back up to where it was before Bush dropped it further without massive hits to Medicare, Defense, and Social Security.

    April 13, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Funny

    Funny how the GOP is the war-hungry, I love America crowd, but when it comes to paying for the expensive wars, when it comes to fixing all the broken roads, schools, programs in America, they all want to keep their money like its their own. Fine, it is YOUR money, but don't use any of America's roads, don't depend on America's military to protect you, don't depend on Social Security when you go bankrupt and are too old to work. Don't depend on Paul Ryan and Romney giving a crap about you being too sick to work.

    April 13, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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