Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.
August 17th, 2012
07:46 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's campaign sought to turn up the pressure Friday on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, offering to back off on their calls for the release of additional years of returns if he agrees to disclose five years of tax information.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina offered the deal in a letter sent to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. The Obama campaign posted the letter on its web site and emailed it to journalists.

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"If the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more–neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign," Messina wrote. His offer did not include a promise to avoid attacking Romney on the contents of any new returns, or make any commitments for independent third party groups.

A rejection of the Obama team's offer of a deal came from Rhoades came less than two hours later.

"Thanks for the note," Rhoades wrote. "It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending."

Rhoades wrote that Messina and his campaign could continue talking about Romney's tax returns - but that his team would focus on the economy.

"If Governor Romney's tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days," Rhoades wrote. "In the meantime, Governor Romney will continue to lay out his plans for a stronger middle class, to save Medicare, to put work back into welfare, and help the 23 million Americans struggling to find work in the Obama economy."

The "offer" comes one day after Romney told reporters that he paid no less that 13% of his income in taxes for the past decade – a new revelation in a battle over the presumptive GOP nominee's personal tax information. Romney has released his return from 2010 and an estimate from 2011. He has pledged to release the full 2011 return once it's completed by his accountant. He filed for an extension on filing his 2011 return from the Internal Revenue Service in April.

Democrats have criticized Romney for not releasing more information about his taxes, arguing that voters are entitled to a greater amount of disclosure from candidates running for president. Some Republicans have also called on Romney to release more of his returns, saying the political headache could be easily ended by simply putting out additional information.

Romney and his campaign have consistently rebuffed those calls, however, saying the two years they've released go beyond the legal requirement, and offer voters a good perspective into the candidate's financial background.

In his letter Friday, Messina painted Romney's refusal to release more returns as stemming from political trepidation, which he said could be put to rest with his offer.

"This request for the release of five years, covering the complete returns for 2007-2012, is surely not unreasonable," Messina wrote, pointing out that Romney's father George, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination ahead of the 1968 election, released more than a decade's worth of returns.

"In the Governor's case, a five year release would appropriately span all the years that he has been a candidate for President," Messina wrote. "It would also help answer outstanding questions raised by the one return he has released to date, such as the range in the effective rates paid, the foreign accounts maintained, the foreign investments made, and the types of tax shelters used."

A CNN/ORC Poll taken August 7-8 showed 63% of voters thought Romney should release additional years of tax returns. Among independents, 67% said the Republican candidate should release more years of returns.

On Thursday, Romney dismissed the questions on his tax returns as a distraction from bigger issues, and reiterated his refusal to release any additional documents.

"Given the challenges that America faces – 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, 1 out of 6 Americans in poverty – the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face," Romney said in South Carolina.

In declaring he's paid more than 13% in taxes, Romney is describing his effective tax rate, the percentage of his actual income he gave to the federal government. Over the past two years, Romney's effective tax rate was 14.5%, based on the records he's revealed already.

Romney's financial disclosures suggest his net worth is as high as $264 million, making him one of the wealthiest candidates in history to seek the U.S. presidency.

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (1,465 Responses)
  1. Wes B.

    I don't think Obama really cares what's in Romney's tax returns. However, the American public DOES want to know. If this guy is wanting to run our country, he needs to listen to what his 300 million would-be bosses are saying. We are hesitant to trust you, Mitt. This is your chance to be forthcoming. If we can't trust you and have faith in you, Mitt, then we can't vote for you. It's that simple.

    It's not about Obama wanting to see what's in there, it's about America wanting to see what's in there. And it's about our warped tax code in general.

    August 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. anoel2005

    Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades to Jim Messina :

    "Thanks for the note. It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending," he wrote. "If Governor Romney's tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days."

    LOL

    August 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. bearced

    It's about trust Mitt, if you cannot be straight with the American people how can we trust you to help us?

    August 17, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. Yonni

    Obama team always rushes to make a deal. Why you making deal now there is presidency before Mitt own father released 12 years of tax return why not ten years? The same problem with the stimulus money; all sensible economists predict it will take 3 trillion to make an impact on the collapsing US economy despite of that fact the Obama administration settled for less than one trillion. Also the stimulus stop the back sliding and promoted growth the impact was less than what it should be. Despite of the fact that the administration bended backward to satisfy his critics the critics directed unbelievable attack on the administration. It wouldn't have made a difference whether the stimulus amount was 1 or 2 or 3 trillion for that matter they would have opposed it with the same vigor and vulgarity.

    August 17, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Don66

    Wow! Mittington claims he paid a whopping 13% in taxes? How about 0% on income he laundered overseas? Why does this multimillionnaire think he can get away from disclosing his income tax returns like every Presidential nominee has since Nixon?

    August 17, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  6. Boytjie

    JeffreyB

    Can we get back to matters that actually matter? Whatever is in his tax returns is perfectly legal and he has no requirement to release them.
    ===========================
    All we have to go on is his word that everything is OK and legal in his tax forms.
    He lied about his tax forms when he ran for governor of MA, why should we accept that he is telling the truth now?

    August 17, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    How can Romney expect voters to trust his character and honesty when he won't release his tax returns?

    August 17, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. John

    MITT the businessman man says trust me take my word I paid my taxes. The American people are not that stupid Mr. Romney. The American people have a right to see your tax returns before they cast their vote.

    August 17, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Frank

    If I am winning the game, I will not offer the lose a deal. Romney paid millions in taxes for an unemployed man. As far as the foreign investments, every police, fire, teacher, and all other union pension funds invest in foreign businesses and governments. Why? Because these investments have a greater return and interest than US investments, due to O'Bama's failed policy's.

    August 17, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. fred 37ify

    Barrack's been hiding his past from America since he took office ! First president to keep the White House visitor logs secret !!!!!!1111111 First president that has our soldiers disarmed when he visits military bases !11111111

    August 17, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. Adam

    This is getting ridiculous. Submission of X number of years of tax returns should be a requirement for running for office. If you don't want to do it, fine.. Let someone else run.

    I'm voting Obama.

    August 17, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. DW

    If Romney won't even do 5 years to quell the issue. Clearly he is hiding something.

    August 17, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. jaxl

    this coming from the camp of the person it took how long to produce a birth certificate

    August 17, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. maximusvad

    Romney = Coward A far throw from the integrity his father had.

    August 17, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. Ancient Texan

    Romney has already released ALL that is legally required and should agree to release more the same day Obama releases all of the records that he spent millions sealing and hiding from public view. We know NOTHING about Obama's history prior to his Senate stint. We would probably see his background would indicate his deep beliefs and point to what he actually has in mind for America.

    August 17, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. There's Nothing to Hide and That's Why We're Hiding

    Don't do it!!!!!!! Who are they to ask for what every other Presidential candidate has provided in the past!!! I pray that Romney sticks to his guns and doesn't release anything more than he already has!!!!.....so he will lose :-)

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 17, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. UDidntBuildThat

    BLKMANinAmerica-"..Romney clearly hasn't paid any tax for 10 years, just like Reid stated, but he a white booie so the media isn't going to press the issue. America's double standard at work again"
    _____________________________
    LOL!!!! that is really a good one!! Do u think for one second that this Obama IRS would not go after Mitt Romeny for failing to pay taxes?? Really???? I have some land inthe everglades to sell u.

    When Obama releases the Fast & Furious documents he has sealed, when Obama has released all his college application, grades, transcript, and thesis that he has sealed, then and only then can Obama talk about anyone else releasing their info. Mitt Romney has released all that is required. 2 yrs of tax return! If he releases more then what else will they ask for? His kindergarten transcript? Give me a break!!!
    The economy is crap, we have high unemployment and nothing Obama has done has worked!! Obama knows this and is trying to distract with phony issues and lies!

    August 17, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  18. fred 37ify

    Dishonorable Disclosures ! Enough said !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111

    August 17, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Romney walks like a WUSSS and is the world's worst liar

    The Obama administration MUST know something about Romney's taxes to put out this challenge to him. Something so bad that Romney is willing to go against the majority view of the voting public that also want to see what he is hiding.

    Funny, because Romney usually just says what he thinks is popular depending on where is is on any given day.

    He's changed his stance 4 times in 4 days on Ryan's Budget Plan. It will be fun to see what his latest position is next time he is asked.

    August 17, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. anoel2005

    Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades to Jim Messina :

    "Thanks for the note. It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending," he wrote. "If Governor Romney's tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days."

    LOL LOL LOL

    August 17, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. IDontBelieveIt

    How simple IS it?
    Romney WILL NOT BE BULLIED by the Chicago attack dog! Everyone who isn't a thicko Cemocrat knows that Obama KNOWS he won't be bullied but carries on bullying ANYWAY to take attention away from their

    August 17, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. nb123

    proven LIAR??? My god, Obama has done nothing but lie.... You are showing YOUR prejudice!!!!

    August 17, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Lola

    Would that be Federal? Or a combination of Federal and State? Mit is lying through his teeth and I hope you all know it. My guess is that he purchased distressed companys, borrowed against them, pocketed the money ( swiss-banked it) sold at a loss kindof, and walla used the loss on his tax returns against his income and made out like a bandit. The money in the swiss bank account is not in play. Walla.............That is my guess.

    August 17, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  24. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Instead of hanging out with Papa John, Willard should go to more familiar territory like Perdue so he can hang out with fellow chickens.
    Oh this is great. POTUS Obama and Harry Reid know about the taxes in great detail, no doubt about it, they are simply having fun and toying with Myth, much like cats do with mice before they finally go to end it. Willard is a rat's name, so he's close to a mouse.

    And to all the idiots talking about college records, when the standard precedent moves on to college records, we'll talk. The historical precedent set by the wimp's father is releasing 10-12 years worth of returns. George Romney had the stones to do it. His little boy Willard obviously didn't get courage passed down to him.
    Tell us what you're hiding Willard!!!!

    August 17, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. chas

    Obama keeps harping on taxes...we all know Romney is rich, very rich. So drop that Obama and start talking about your plans for America....I have an idea, why don't you produce a budget for this country, instead of being the first President to NEVER have a budget in place. If you vote for Obama you are voting for an American "fail."

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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