Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
6 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Oh and TRuth and nothing but more b.s I meant EVERYTIME you post. Just in case you didn't "hear" it the first time.

    April 13, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Sunny

    If you're a brainless & clueless Republican moron, please select one of the following

    a) You dumb libtards... blah blah blah
    b) You dems don't get it... blah blah blah
    c) You stupid socialists... blah blah blah
    d) You lefties dont know... blah blah blah

    Good day

    April 13, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. samikep

    It is funny that Obama will not release his long form birth certificate or school records, however has no issue calling out Mitt on his Taxes. Obama only paid 20% himself.. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black...

    April 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Richard Broderick, Jr. - All of this we sacrifice for the Reagan/Bush/Romney/Ryan Republican party’s one
    true goal: more and more tax breaks for the rich. It’s a downward path.
    Get a clue. The rich and businesses are already paying for the free ride most of the people in this country get.

    Back in the good old days, everybody paid taxes, not just a few. Now 47-50% pay NOTHING in federal income taxes. Meanwhile more than half the country in on the government dole collecting one of the numerous government handouts. Years ago it used to be a stigma to be on governemnt assistance, now it is the accepted norm and you are considered a sucker if you aren't collecting something for nothing. Free housing, free day care, free food, free healthcare, free drugs, free cars, free cell phones, free education, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. Problem is NONE of them are "free" to the people paying the bill.

    April 13, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "It's because capital gains income has *already been taxed* at the corporate level. Corporate income is double-taxed, 35% at the corporate level and then 15% at the personal capital gains tax level, for a true effective rate of 44.75%."

    Show how little you know about taxation and economics. As a general rule, every time money changes hands, it gets taxed. How old are you?

    April 13, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  6. John Stefanyszyn

    Some say that "taxation" will be one of the issues in the U.S.A. election.
    Not so.
    The issue behind this and every other issue is "equality of rights"....the belief in freedom of equal rights
    ....equal rights (taxation)
    ...equal rights (health care)
    ....equal rights of women
    ....equal rights of lifestyle ( human rights = gay per Hilary Clinton and Oresident Obama)
    ....equal rights of be free to worship the religion of one's choice....since this belief dictates that all "gods" are equal in validity of existence and of worship as per one's personal faith and relationship.

    BUT there is ONLY ONE TRUE Creator God and ONLY ONE TRUE WAY of LIfe through Christ, the Son of God and coming rule the earth as per the one truth.

    April 13, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "And what does it say when Massachusett, saw what their President Obama was doing to the country and had to send Scott Brown to stop him!!?"

    Wow, you really are an idiot with no knowledge of recent political history, aren't you? After you read the following, which you could have gotten yourself in less than two minutes online, please apologize to everyone for your stupidity and wasting our time. Now read it and weep:

    "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, had been struggling to round up the 60 votes needed to get a bill to the floor in the Senate.

    The death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and the decision of Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., to vote against both the bill itself and the "cloture motion" - the measure needed to limit debate and send the bill to the floor - caused delays. But bill backers ended up getting the votes they needed for the cloture motion by winning over Democrats such as Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Republicans such as Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine."

    We await your apology.

    April 13, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Hey Really!!? I hate when people like you try to make the excuse saying the next generation will have to pay for this stuff. I am apart of the next generation in which you speak of and I would be more afraid of what my future would be like if the Democrats did nothing. Whether you want to admit it or not the economy is getting better and the policies that Obama and the Democrats have passed have helped turn the economy back around. So before you speak on behalf of my generation you should at least talk to one of us first.

    April 13, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    samikep – Just get back from the birther moon colony? You need to catch up on facts.

    April 13, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)
    Oh and TRuth and nothing but more b.s I meant EVERYTIME you post. Just in case you didn't "hear" it the first time.
    I wuv you too Obama Duppa Wipin' Mama!! Please come back when you have some more Obama droppings to post...

    April 13, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)


    Oh and Thanks to Obama and the Dems spendathon, the next generation will inherit a worse country than the previous.
    I've been reading your posts, and biting my tongue. You sound like a disingenous simpleton. Who do you think paid for WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War? Yes, that's right, the NEXT generation. Fact, not fiction here buddy.Don't go blaming the Prez or the Dems for the freaking fiasco The I'm-in-Texas-leave-a-message Town Idiot left us with. He who by the way signed off on the first "blood-transfusion" for the country, I guess so that there would be some country left before he scurried out the back door like the rat that he was. And who the hell helped him keep TWO F'ING WARS off the books for the NEXT generation to pay for? I'd like to know. And I know that you know that ONE of those wars was an unnecessary massacre of American and Iraqui blood because your dummy got personal on the subject and fed us lies to suck us into fightin his personal war for him. So shut the hell up.

    April 13, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. Angry

    Great discussion! Would love to hear more from people who are comfortable with discussing their opinions on video. We want to know what you're mad about in the news, in politics, sports, celebrities, current events, you name it! Email

    April 13, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    Just an idiot. Bain-capital. Watch YouTube when mitt Romney came to town.

    April 13, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |

    Ever notice what whiny sniveling traitors Republicans are?

    Oh, they claim to be patriots. They claim to support the United States. They claim they SUPPORT the United States, but do they?


    Every chance they get, they whine about how bad the government of the U.S. is. How they don't like our government. That they don't want to have to PAY for our government. They must think that "support" just means to wave a flag so hard they levitate off the ground a couple of feet, instead of SUPPORTING the country, its goals, its policies and programs for both our citizens, and the world.

    I'm proud to pay my taxes. I do so, knowing that even though I'm no longer in the military and serving my country, I'm helping to SUPPORT the troops that are still serving. I know my taxes go to keep our country safe, our air clean, our roads and bridges strong. I know our government strives to protect us from fraudulent and unscrupulous business owners who put greed & profit before simple humanity.

    I'm proud to SUPPORT my country, even when supporting it means my money might be spent on something I'd rather it not spend it on – BECAUSE I AM COGNIZANT THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MEMBER OF A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. I don't always agree with what my country does, but I'm damn proud to support the DREAM of what my country stands for: equality, justice, and freedom, something else that Republicans whine, snivel and cry about.

    So next time you hear a cry-baby Republican, bemoaning their having to pay their taxes – remind them of what traitors they are for not supporting their country. Remind them that finding every single way to duck their responsibility is similar to a cowardly soldier hiding during battle.

    Be proud of being an American. Pay your taxes. Support our government. BE PROUD.

    April 13, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Rick in Phx

    @The Real Truth
    Very good points.

    It's the sheep that just keep using the same false talking points which make me glad to have never been a republican or democrat. The reason the Obama adminstration has spent so much really rest upon the fact that his adminstration picked up the tab for Bush's unfunded wars. Bush basically kicked the can down the road and perhaps it would have been better for Obama to do the same we'll never know but, for people like you to try and blame 1 party or the other is just plain sad. It shows a lack of your knowledge of history. Both parties are to blame.

    April 13, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Okay CNN and the DEMs 1 more time Obama and Romney pay two differnt taxes. Obama pays income tax because of the income he is paid. Romney pays capital gains tax. He has no income he makes his money off of interest and investments. By LAW capitial; gains tax is 15%. If he had an income like he was getting paid by a company he would pay income tax. CNN ask obama what his tax rate is for his investments Thats right it would be 15% just like everybody else. Now look at who gave what to chirity obama 1 mil, Biden $375.00 and Romney 7 mil. Now they say because Romney didn't want to release his tax returns the dems say he has somthing to hide HOW about obama why won't he release his REAL birth certificate, His collage transcripts, His theases, and the foriegn person college loan he recieved its all sealed WHY WHAT IS HE HIDING?

    April 13, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Republican Not Voting For Romney

    Time for Mr. Romney to turn over all of his tax returns for the last 10 years (as our President has done). He turned them over in 2008 when being vetted for V.P., so where are they? No f***king excuses, and no drafts, where are they?

    April 13, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. Just Say No to Flipper

    "By LAW capitial; gains tax is 15%."

    We are familiar with law. We oppose it's current implementation, especially when corporate predators like Rmoney get to treat income as capital gains. Do you understand?

    April 13, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    samikep, are you unintelligent or uninformed? Perhaps it's both. Obama released his long-form birth certificate earlier this year. Also, it would be absolutely preposterous to demand his school records. I don't ever recall any of the previous U.S. presidents being required,or even asked, to release their school records. As for the tax debate, Obama would actually propose a deal that would raise his taxes, whereas Romney would likely fight to keep his taxes lower. Keep in mind Romney himself only pay around 14.5%.

    April 13, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    wuv you too Obama Duppa Wipin' Mama!!
    One of your best posts Truth and nothing but b.s. You're definitely full of more than your fair share of excrement, but every once in awhile you do make laugh even if it is at your inaneness!
    God bless, safe weekend.

    April 13, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Jim Hahn

    I love how the Romney team screams diversion when the Democrats beat them to the punch. Romney can't be bothered to prepare his taxes on time (you didn't think he did them himself did you?).

    April 13, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    His collage transcripts, His theases, and the foriegn person college loan he recieved its all sealed WHY WHAT IS HE HIDING?
    Never mind your paranoid conspiracy theories, the real question is: WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING, and do you have to leave the planet to get it?
    Two-words: spell check.
    Dang dude! lol!!

    April 13, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. Marco

    OBAMA 2012..

    How I would love to see all this repug.. faces when he gets Re elected. :))

    April 13, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. FED up

    The REAL side show attraction here IS MITT ROMNEY, a candidate who has no chance of beating Obama in 2012. Why do you think Obama wants to see him get the republican nomination so bad? Obama has flip flopped so bad in his first term he needs to run against someone equally as bad in order to win. The Truth is the delegate count has been poorly reported by the msm. While America is steadily confused over receiving bad information the GOP race is still well under way. RON PAUL is steadily winning states going into their state conventions. The media can only suggest something is happening when is in fact not. CNN & FOX don't get to vote for us and they have no power over the voting process other than hype. In truth the Romney camp is suffering and Romneys bid at the GOP candidacy is coming unraveled.

    April 13, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. Rick in Phx

    @The Real Truth

    Just so you know I agreed with the points you made about nothing being free to the people that pay the bills, NOT on the immature name calling and childish post.

    April 13, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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