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

    Last I checked, in this country (or what remains of it) the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. So because Harry the libturd makes a malicious accusation for politcal gain in the eyes of the sheeple does not mean that Mr. (and soon President) Romney is obligated to defend himself. Unfortunately, the illegals, criminals, lazy and stupid have more rights in this administration than hard working, law abiding American citizens.

    August 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. bigdoglv

    Obama, the best President ever! CNN the most rusted name in news! Maybe that will get me back in the door.

    August 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. Martin, Willi

    I cannot believe that people are actually writing and equating tax returns to high school records and college transcripts.
    I think the world must be laughing at us because this is a stupid augument. Please reflect on how making this statement makes you look. You would certainly learn more about any person if you looked at their tax returns. Have you ever gotten a high school transcript, a college transcript. It only shows your grades. This is why any business that hires are only interested in the degree you earned not the grades from 30 years ago. Are you honestly saying that grades earned 30 years ago in high school or college are more important than how you earned and spent your money 3 , 4 or 5 years ago as an adult. I don't think that tax returns from 15 years ago are important. But 5 or 10 years ago sheds a lot of light on who you are financially professionally and morally. If you want to make the field level than ask Romney to release his tax returns, Obama already has. After that they can both release high school and college grades, if you really want to see them. Me I'm more interested in seeing diplomas or degrees. If your grades were not acceptable you would not have either.

    August 17, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. maximusvad

    Trust but verify. Someone said that.....who was it ?

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. mikey

    lets see Obama college transcripts.

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. NameKevin

    I pay 25% in taxes every year. I could care less if Mitt pays 0%. Everybody should be able to choose whether they want to pay or not. President Odumba and you other idiots need to keep your hand in your own pocket and stay out of Mitts.

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Listening

    Romney should accept the offer if Obama finally releases his transcripts from Columbia. As an independent in Pennsylvania I know I would like to see both.

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. PR

    "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."
    "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."

    So is it me or did he just call about 65% of the American population small minded? Boy is he an arrogant aristocrat.

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Dave

    Mitt to Barack Whose Insane Obama: "Talk to the hand"

    August 17, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Florida Mom

    Who cares about his taxes.... he's rich ok got it. Now can we focus on the real problems and not on how much money Romney made or paid or whatever.. you are all losing focus.
    I would rather have a man in the WH that knows how to make money as on that only knows how to spend it!!

    August 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Trust But Verify

    @Avi stated:

    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.


    It's definitely swaying me as an independent, who was slightly impressed with Jon Huntsman out of all the Republican primary candidates. And I'm definitley not an Obama Fan but Romney isn't doing any justice to himself by keeping his tax returns a secret. Just release them already! Both parties, including some in the Republican party, have requested this. Past presidential candidates have had to disclose this information. Why not Romney? Do it for those in your party who deserve to know who they are backing!!!

    August 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. jony

    WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney has shot to a 5-point lead over President Obama, according to a new national poll released yesterday.

    Romney topped Obama, 49 percent to 44 percent, in the latest Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll.

    That’s the biggest advantage either candidate has scored in more than a month, as Romney steadily widened his lead, which stood at 46 percent to 43 percent a week ago.

    Other recent polls show the race tied or Obama with a narrow lead.

    Romney’s lead in the Rasmussen poll is nearly identical to his 49 percent-to-43 percent advantage over Obama when pollsters asked which candidate was better able to handle the economy.

    Romney’s 5-point lead yesterday was the largest advantage either candidate has held in just over a month.

    August 17, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Alan

    If republicans were truly concerned about jobs, they would have agreed to President Obama's Job creation bill. Unfortunately, they don't care about jobs one bit, only their own bottom lines and defending the status quo. Republicans choice of presidential and vice presidential candidates is appalling and scary. If these homophobic, elite racists are elected, I'm moving!

    August 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. n

    Anonymous, Romney's tax return is about the american people. Romney betted against America and now he wants to be our leader. Get a clue already.

    August 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Ready

    Oh where did the hope and change go, now it's fear and smear. Obama/Biden fear and smear 2012!!

    August 17, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. Wilson

    "Give me those tax returns!!" That is all Obamas got. Nothing postive to run on.

    August 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. milan milenkovic

    If this country allowed you to make money in USA, it’s fair to return part of this money back to community. Money what we can SAVE with : NO Bush tax cuts & Buffett rule; a new energy tax credit & to cut tax brakes for oil companies; Budget Control Act; NO Medical fraud… we can REINVEST to have a strong middle class, health care reform, investment for clean energy… better education/ infrastructures / transportation…, the best innovation in the world , investment in R&D,… to eliminate $ 15,6 trillion of US national debt !

    August 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. MNAnonymous!

    All the republicans posting over this issue don't really get it huh: their candidate is not just lying (that is pretty common to all politicians), but represents a social caste that is fighting hard to keep its privileges. These Republicans think that they are or will be "rich", well Mr. Romney belongs to a class of people that are beyond rich, they are a close tight-knitted community (because there are only few of them). Not even Mr. Obama with all his money belongs to this group of people. The American dream that Mr. Romney is pushing for is not the same that the rest of Americans have in mind! In particular is not yours! Because, and deal with it, YOU WILL NEVER BELONG TO HIS SAME SOCIAL CLASS and, therefore, in his eyes you are not worthy!

    August 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Byteme

    Funny how Republicans are crying about Mittens tax return problem being a "distraction", because just 2 years ago, they thought that President Obama's birth certificate was the #1 issue facing our country.

    Ok, Republicans, put on your big girl panties, suck it up, have Mittens release his tax returns and take his well-deserved lumps!

    August 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Florida Mom

    "I would rather have a man in the WH that knows how to make money as on that only knows how to spend it!!"
    So true, so true... except some of the president's decisions have proven that he doesn't even know how to spend it properly.

    August 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. Wyobob

    I think that rawmoneys tax returns are a good indication of the economy, They will show how the workers are getting taken to the poorhouse by the wealthy and corporations.

    August 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. AP

    Where are the jobs from the $700 billion stimulus Obama? Where is the transparency of your administration? Typical Chicago thug politician. All of this tax return story is smoke and mirror. Wake up people before your $$$ is completely worthless

    August 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Nix the Food Stamp President

    This is all Obama has to discuss because records do matter and he is done untold damage to the economy. If any of his leftist policies work we would not have over 8% unemployment and the largest debt load in history. His main re-election theme is envy and divisiveness and he has nothing else. Plenty of people said from the start Obama did not have the job experience to govern and that is what we have gotten. Heck of a campaigner but thats about it...

    August 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Cheney literally doesn't have a heart.

    we want to see more than five years taxes. Release them now!

    August 17, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. Tree

    This is a shame. Romney is applying for the higest office in the LAND and he refuse to show his taxes, FED taxes. There is something wrong here. He has a SWISS bank account and normally people who has those are not right, they are doing something and don't want anyone to know. Yes people say let it go he does not have to show. But come on my friends he wants to become our President, and don't you think we deserve to know whats in there. If he was not running for president than so what but he is. He think that we are going to accept him at his word, when his words has been nothing but LIES. You can look into his eyes and see the LIES. Romney is not FIT to become president for many reason. But when you think that we are going to go by your word and your wife words NOT. This is a smoking GUN. Romney knows this. The sad thing about this he is not smart, Romney knew that he will be running for the highest office in the land but he did not get his taxes in ORDER. With that said, tell you something about him. He can do anything he and say anything and its ok. Maybe in Romney world but not in the REAl WORLD.....

    August 17, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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