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. Greg

    Oh my god, are you democraps ever going to change. Obama is acting like a 5 year old. i promise not to keep lying if you release 5 more years. are you freaking kidding me. Romney needs to call up obama and tell him to stuff his tax returns where the sun dont shine.

    August 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. Fabjan

    By their fruits ye shall know them. Everything Romney touches turns to pure GOLD. The guy's a financial genius. Let's give him the chance to work his financial magic on this country for once. Someone who knows how to MAKE money rather than SPEND it.

    August 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Norma Vessels

    For all of you who are asking for President Obama's college transcripts .. what do you want to see .. his good grades .. the place that says where and when he borrowed money to finish his college? The scolarship money he received? What? He isn't denying a look at his college records ... it's what all colleges do. Try to get anyone's college transcripts, and see what they tell you.
    As for the ones who keep saying our president keeps spending money hand over fist .. first, it takes more money now, to cover all the benefits we all get, and worked for. Second, it is recorded that he is one of the LEAST spending presidents for the past several years! Learn the history, before commenting and letting people know just how uninformed you are.

    August 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. Listening

    The other piece is when you run for high office, The IRS does an automatic 7 year review. They would love nothing more than to find fault with Romney's taxes. Just look at our Treasury Second. They came out right away when he messed up his taxes. The IRS would have put Romney in jail if he didn't pay. If we want to review the returns to see his decision making then ok. But to say he has to prove that he paid taxes- well he already has. Just like you and I do. By his Tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Anonymous

    I don't care about Romney's tax records, never will! I don't care about Obama's tax records, I never will!!! I do care about the economy and jobs/unemployment. Obama, what's your fix? Romney, what's your fix? may the better man win!

    August 17, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. bigdoglv

    This has nothing to do with Mitt's taxes. The IRS is a government agency. I am sure that the Obama camp already knows what is in the returns. It is only about Mitt's income so his enemies can bash him for being successful. Just a load of bunk.

    August 17, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. bob

    Jamie.....really ??? That's just brilliant

    August 17, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Wilson

    "What on earth is Romney hiding?"
    ------------------
    Nothing. This is all Obama has and it fails. Ronmey has done nothing illegal.

    August 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. nemo

    Aha the Democrats strike back with their own "birther" issue.....gotta love it. How does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot.

    August 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Plumelet

    Obama is shameless. He cannot talk about economy or unemployment rate because he has screwed up. He is trying to distract voters' attention. How pathetic.

    August 17, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Jamie

    Liberals think a 13% tax rate is ridiculously low and demand to know why Romney pays 13% while they pay 30%. Well, Romney made $5,000,000 last year. A 13% effective tax rate means he paid $650,000 in taxes last year. You made $70,000 last year and paid 30%. So you paid $21,000. So people cry they are paying more than Romney. They're not. Romney paid 31 times more than the average $70,000 employee. Their argument is ridiculous.

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

    However jamie, 21k is a lot more $$$ to someone making $70k a year while trying to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, gas in the tank and cars on the road, save for their kids' college and pay for medical insurance and pray they don't have to use it because the deductibles and copays would push them right over the edge. Even if mittens were taxed 90% of his $5m he'd still have more than enough $$$ to do all the above without having to worry about any of the above.

    August 17, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. REPUBLICAN ARE THE GREATEST

    How is Romney's tax returns going to help the Econony. IT IS'T. So lets get this issue of tax returns out of the news, it is stupid. The Democrats can not talk about the issues that concern Americans, so they have to create hate and lies.

    August 17, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Alois

    Deadbeat obama is the real fraud , he's the one we want to see all the sealed documents on. His questionable past will prove that freeloading obama is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

    August 17, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. RightyTighty

    Trying to change the subject back to taxes again huh? That Medicare discussion is hurting the numbers isn't it obama? Pack your bags Mr. Preezy.

    August 17, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. anoel2005

    "Democrats say that President Obama's unconventional strategy for the 2012 election hasn't yet begun the crucial phase: the pivot to positivism."

    "Obama's theory of the 2012 election was to do what other incumbents have feared to attempt and open the campaign on a sustained negative note. The idea was to destroy Romney's public image and then, with the Republican nominee in tatters, set about the business of restoring some sheen to the president's somewhat tarnished brand." (BY ChRIS STIREWALT)

    hEY MR.PRESIDENT, THIS IS A LOSING STRATEGY.

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

    Some low-order thinker wrote:
    "Let's face it, the guy's a financial guru, he knows how money works. Let's give him the chance to do for us what he has done for himself."
    If that isn't the biggest load of bs fallacy I have heard in a long time. Go vote for Bernie Madoff, he knew how to accumulate wealth too at the expense of other people. Just like Willard. Profits before people. I hope that you get your gig outsourced to China so you can see the GOP plan up close and personal.

    August 17, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. Ryan

    " arguing that voters are entitled to a greater amount of disclosure from candidates running for president"

    This is coming from the same party that elected Barack Obama. You talk about irony. Let's rail on disclosure about the "other" guy, yet, Obama was elected on a narrative with absolutely no substance or fact-based credibility.

    Wake up America.

    August 17, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Expat American

    While Romney’s sidestepping the taxes issues reflects badly for him on the surface; it’s not the reason why he would be a poor president. He has no platform other than reinstating that of the GOP which has failed before and will fail again. If elected, you can be assured that the GOP’s ‘trickle down’ economic plan will be nothing more than another bursting bladder full of ‘tinkle down’ hardship on the poor and middle class.

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Darryl

    The people of this country have every right to know who the man is thats going to represent this country and the people in it. If he's an honest man and has paid his taxes like we all have then there's no problem. If he's cheated and manipulated the system then we need to know that too. This Tax issue will not go away for myself and millions of us. There's obviously a problem with this or he and his wife wouldn't be so adamit about the issue period.

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. Lizzie

    Let's make a Deal, my college records and transcripts for your taxreturns.

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. STanley

    Obama should not debate him until he releases his tax returns. Romney's arrogance is his worst enemy!

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. ObaWendon

    I believe his returns will show that he still is tied to Bain Capitol big time. The fact he is wealthy has nothing to do with it. We all know he is very rich, which is a wonderful success story. What we need to know is how HONEST is he about how he made his money and how and when he left Bain. Did he work for Bain when Bain closed all those companies and put all those people out of jobs or not? He is running by saying he had done nothing except create jobs. If he is so honest why was so much money kept off shore? I don't want another deceptive, secretive and misleading person as President. I want to know what he plans to also, past day 1 that is. How is he going to help the middle class and our job situations? All I've seen so far is a secretive man, hiding behind his wealth saying he is going to remove the very programs that help the middle class stay a hair above the poverty line. Everything aaout this guy reeks a Snake Oil Salesman.

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. anoel2005

    "Democrats say that President Obama's unconventional strategy for the 2012 election hasn't yet begun the crucial phase: the pivot to positivism."

    "Obama's theory of the 2012 election was to do what other incumbents have feared to attempt and open the campaign on a sustained negative note. The idea was to destroy Romney's public image and then, with the Republican nominee in tatters, set about the business of restoring some sheen to the president's somewhat tarnished brand."

    BY CHRIS STIREWALT

    August 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Sniffit

    "How about Obama releasing all his college records. How he qualified,"

    Dude, it's public knowledge that he had a 3.7 in college and graduated in the top 10% of his class at Harvard Law. Just come out and say what you mean: "OMG...look everyone!!!! Black guy as POTUS!!! No way did he achieve anything on his own!!!! It's all because of affirmative action....it's "their" secret plan to take our white country away!!!!!" We know that's what you mean, so just be up front about it.

    August 17, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. NoLongerRepublican

    @Vickie Munson: "I am pretty sick of everyone worrying about Romneys's tax returns! If the IRS had a problem with them that would be different........"

    ********************************************************************************************************************************************
    How do you know the IRS has not had past issues with Romney and his taxes???? We don't know do we? You know how we can find out?

    August 17, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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