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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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.

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.


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

    Amusing on so many levels...
    1. That the republicans who played with the stupid birth certificate issue (distraction), are above such things when it comes to them.
    2. That a 13-14% effective tax rate is considered 'normal' (even when done legally)
    3. That the party that keeps yammering about the elitist left is putting forward the most elitist candidate in US history
    4. That none of these comments will make a bit of differnce with the Republican hoards... Hopefully it'll sway some independants.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. Tabitha

    I think the evidence we already have demonstrates that Romney's tax returns are relevant to this election.

    (1) He is using the tax code's loopholes to save himself a lot of money. Therefore, he has an economic incentive to keep those loopholes in place for himself and his wealthy friends if he becomes president.

    (2) He is sending his money off shore. What's to stop him from sending (even more) jobs off shore. In fact, one of his ads criticizes Obama for stimulus money that went oversees. How are his past actions any different.

    I love seeing the posts from folks that say he is only doing what he is allowed to do under the law. Why criticize him for keeping his own piece of the pie kind of mentality. Yeah, cause that's what we want for our president – an average joe – a guy who does whatever it take to benefit himself. Really? I also thought it was particularly amusing to see that Romney gave his church more than 9 percent of his gross income. He is making huge discretionary payments to an entity that does not build roads, protect airports, put boots on soldiers, etc... while at the same time doing whatever it takes to avoid paying even one extra cent in taxes. Nice priorities.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Obama - Ending the American Dream as We Know It

    All pure BS Obama smoke and mirrors... Romney has no obligation to reveal ANY tax returns and he is too smart to play the stop leftists game of gotcha and smear.

    Obama WHERE ARE ALL THE JOBS???? Obama is the owner of the WORSE RECOVERY SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

    Obama/Biden – Four More Years of an Economy Slightly Better Than The GREAT DEPRESSION!!

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    jaxl

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

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Long before he had the Democratic nomination.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. amwester

    I don't blame Romney, WE can't trust our President or his committee to KEEP their word. Obamma isn't all that open about himself either. Let's just get back to telling us about their platforms, if you can believe them.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Fed Up

    Remember the IRS is part of the government. I beleive that our leader already knows the answer to the Mittins tax issue. We need a real contender for office and right now the choices don't look very good.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. BHPT

    Well, it's pretty clear now. He's hiding something – and I'd bet it's in 2009.
    Americans cannot trust this guy.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Why dont you guys just get off the tax return thing and make it about the american people and our country. All you people are worried about are damn taxes. Where have all of you been for the last four years and all the promises that Obama has made a fell through on.

    August 17, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. You People

    There is a quick way to shut this down, the Romney campaign should accept this on the grounds that Obama do a full and true release of his birth certificate. This would shut everyone up and make everyone happy that cares.

    August 17, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. tom

    It amazes me how many idiots are more concerned with what Romney paid in taxes, than they are with how Obama has already blown through and wasted theirs. I guess this is what you get from the pay-per-post gang.

    August 17, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. bigdoglv

    Just another gimmick to get fuel for their war on the hard working successful class. Yeah, he paid 13% in 2010. Over $6 million. How much did you contribute? How many legal deductions did you not use on your returns?

    August 17, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. IF YOU SIGNED GROVER'S PLEDGE, YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE U.S.

    George Romney must be flippingover in his grave. Willard says he paid 13% in taxes. He didn't state what he paid in INCOME taxes. This is no laughing matter and not an attempt to smear the Romney's wealth. However, you're running for POTUS!!! Not one U.S. President past or present has had a Luxembourg account & a Swiss Bank account. But that's beside the point. This is a question of transparency. You want us to justtake you at your word when you've already proven to blatantly lie? I think not. If I were a republican, I would want you to release more tax returns. This is very troubling Willard. And your budget plan is to lower your taxes even more?!?!? Are you serious?

    August 17, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. Dionysus86

    If Mitt doesn't release his returns, how can we ever convince a local county sheriff to say they're fake?

    August 17, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. enuff

    First off, I don't get the yelling for college transcripts. Obviously the birth certificate thingy didn't work for you, so you just had to find something new and irrelevant? second, the refusal to show his taxes indicates Romney HAS something to hide, something that could blow his chances. A lie of omission is STIL L a lie. Third, when has Romney laid out ANY plans? Did I miss something? All he has said so far is that he would extend tax benefits for himself. He hasn't even OFFICiALLY endored Ryan's medicare plan. He has just said they are on the same page. What does Romney stand for... I mean besides himself?

    August 17, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. EPAB

    All I want is one more return – the 2009 return. Did Mitt take advantage of the 2009 IRS tax amnesty program to avoid prosecution for hiding income in previous years?

    August 17, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. Tam

    Someone wrote that it's because of that foreign income tax amnesty a few years ago? Please explain.

    August 17, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. della

    Its awfully strange that most ppl posting here can't seem to remember how President Obama has been harassed his whole presidency about his birth certificate. yet no one has even questioned Mitt Romneys birthplace. Was he born in MEXICO? His grandparents were! No one has said anything about that! Lets me know that America has different standards for Black ppl. Mitt show me your birth certificate and taxes!!!! what are you hiding?

    August 17, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Wilson

    The more it looks like their guy will lose, the more hate comes from the left. Interesting hypocrisy here. They claim the right is all about racism and hate, but the way the left campaign is being run and even the posters from the left on here, give lie to their statements of right hatred. Sure there are a few on the right that show such ignorance, but the numbers on the left are far greater. Just read the comments on these CNN blogs and compare the numbers using insults and name calling on both sides. Left outnumbers the right in the namecalling insulting biz.

    August 17, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. Ancient Texan

    Jack @9:54 AM- If NOTHING is done...there will be NO Medicare when you get to 65. It is very near to bankruptcy now and with the $716 Billion stripped out of Medicare to fund Obamacare, it is even closer.

    August 17, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. Lizzie

    degazmatic, so release those papers what are you hiding, that they needed a so-called minority to look good.
    Michelle Obamas Thesis released reads in part "It is possible that Black individuals either chose to or felt pressure to come together with other Blacks on campus because of the belief that Blacks must join in solidarity to combat a White oppressor. As the few blacks in a white environment it is understandable that respondents might have felt a need to look out for one another."

    August 17, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. tom

    It amazes me how many more non-critical thinkers are concerned with what Romney paid in taxes, than they are with how Obama has already blown through and wasted theirs. I guess this is what you get from the pay-per-post gang.

    August 17, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. todd

    As soon as he releases all college transcripts, visa and travel information and applications for Federal financial assistance that are alleged he wrote "Kenya" in his own hand and signed attesting as fact his birthplace. Now wouldn't that be a story. On so many levels....

    August 17, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. 82 Days until Obama is RE-ELECTED

    "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."
    -------------------------------–
    More Repug obfuscation! What happened to the jobs, jobs, jobs platform that the Grand Obstructionist Party ran on back in 2010 ???? Oh, you mean the jobs bill they've KILLED and REFUSED to PASS!
    Mitt the Twit needs to man up like his father did and RELEASE THOSE TAX FORMS!!
    The American people have the right to know what kind of character/person is running for the highest office in the land. They have a right to know that they are being lied to and fed BS! If this is the level of transparency in the campaign, Lord help us if the right wins this election.

    August 17, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. 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 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Zeke83

    The Obama camp will do anything to keep the spot light off of Obama's record of failure. Romney already released all the tax records required of him. Is he under investigation by the IRS for tax fraud? No. He paid every single penny of tax that he owed. Who in their right mind would pay more than they owe? Obama didn't. That makes him, and many, many others a hyporite.

    August 17, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59