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. Scott

    The Presidency should not be an investment opportunity.

    August 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. 2009 Swiss bank amnesty

    The rumor is that Romney took the 2009 tax amnesty for his Swiss bank accounts – that's why he was forthcoming to McCain in 2008 but not now

    August 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Cecil

    I didn't 'fall off the turnip truck yesterday' even if I do have a country name (thanks Momma and Daddy)..................but I'll bet ya a truckfull of watermelons...............Romney has something to hide or he would be releasing those tax returns already.

    August 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. ea

    Obama is the one who has been hiding everything. He won't release a birth certificate that is legit and no one remembers him at columbia where he won't release his college transcripts. Besides if Obama really cared about you and the common wealth of the people why is his half brother in Kenya living in a hut and eating grasshoppers everyday.

    August 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. The Film Professor

    I thought the deal might be a Presidential Pardon? I mean, there must be some serious s&it in those tax returns for Willard to do this kind of stonewalling, and this might be a way for him to avoid prison time.

    August 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Orwell seen it before

    Bishop Romney will not show his tax records, unlike every candidate for the last 60 years.

    So which is it, a COWARD or a CRIMINAL is running for POTUS?

    August 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Woman In California

    Keep the pressure on him and if he doesn't like it, too bad.
    RELEASE THE TAX RETURNS NOW!

    August 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Jerry

    you all know nothing about Obama and you are demanding what ?

    August 17, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Really?

    Save Medicare? Under Mitt's plan under 55s would never see Social Security as we know it today. We need to leave it as it is for everybody, even those 55s so they have something to look forward to, and we will be doing whatever needs to be done to make sure it continues as is. It time that the filthy rich pay their share of taxes and help save medicare instead of getting richer and penalizing seniors to modify medicare. How can the religious right be so blind to look out for the well fare of the rich instead of helping those in need? What Bible are you reading?

    August 17, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. jebbo

    Romney gave 23 years to McCain. Romney asked foe several years from VP candidates.
    Romney has not given one complete year to the American people. or is it "you people" or "you small minded people" . regarless if Romney wants to hide in the closet with his tax returns i dont care, but he cant be president while hiding tax returns.
    no tax returnss no votes for romney. and 63% of america wants to see those returns

    Show us the returns romney and stop lying

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. scmom

    @ Fabhan, you are gullible the only money "Mr. Genius with his money" will be making will fill his pockets and his rich friends. Being the president is not to make money and you just don't get the fact that he is really running to make sure he can keep the tax code to benefit him and others like him. You my friend is not included in that number unless you are rich.

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. justme

    this isnt just about taxes. its about integrity.

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    skybill40 wrote:

    Uh, do you even understand what you've written? You cannot be born in the US and also be a citizen of another country unless you have DUAL citizenship. The POTUS is NOT allowed to be a dual citizen. Period. If you're going to try and posts statements as facts, you'd better get your facts straight before posting.
    ------------------
    Who said anything about dual citizenship? You did. I sure didn't, and the scenario doesn't require it. The Constitution reads as follows.....

    "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

    In other words, you can be born in the US, taken by your parent to live in a foreign country for 2o years, return to the US on a student visa, re-instate your US citizenship, and then run for POTUS 20 years later and win. The conspiracy theory about college transcripts showing Obama as a foreign student is totally meaningless. It proves nothing.

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Eddie The Barber

    What's he hiding? Something devastating I'm sure. I've heard that the Ryan tax plan calls for the complete elimination of the capital gains tax – Mitt would pay less than 1%. That makes a whole lot-a-sense doesn't it? Tax free income for the investor class. This is crazy – absolutely insane.

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. curious

    Have Romney release his tax returns when Obama releases an original documented birth certificate.

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. royboy25

    Mitt's plan to save America's finances is to rename FICA to FUCA.

    Mitt paid less than <$6000 (according to his preliminary 2011 tax return) off of over $21,000,000 in earnings. Yet i paid $6901 on $121,000. There is the real crime. And for those Obama haters, O made $880k+ and paid $16k in FICA taxes. The REAL WAR is isn't between rich and poor, it is between Wage Earners (whose income is tax by the bracket and pay FICA) and Investment Earners (who's only tax is the Capital gains of 15% ). If you don't know the difference then you need to find out.

    I think Mitt's plan to save America's finances is to rename FICA to FUCA.

    August 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. n222s

    "Mitt claims $77,000 per horse and you people can only claim $1,000 per child."

    Yes, definitely get rid of the horse. And in fact all horses should be set free and we shouldn't spend a dime on any of them. It isn't fair that I can't own a horse. The stables that employe US citizens. The people who make equipment. The people who provide feed. The people who depend upon the income provided by the stables should just go to heck!

    If the people who depend upon the wealthy for their income have to be harmed, well, that's okay because that is what is fair.

    August 17, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  18. Name chris nnadede

    Once you are president there are immunities shielding most we'd get out of your personal life. Romney is one of us presidential aspirants. We must get answers to everything we want to know about ROMNEY no matter how trivial before he takes that demigod hot seat. Athens hoopla about about Obama about his college grades, religion, etc. may have been relevant before he ever became President but now, he's the most powerful individual in the universe whether we in the USA believe it or not

    August 17, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. zizewitz

    Very credible rumors, originating in Zurich, Switzerland, tell that Romney had very large assets in banks there which source was not declared to the IRS in his tax returns. Making use of the tight Swiss bank-secret laws, Romney was not alone who had done so, many other US nationals for many years.

    But recently, 2008/2009. finally Switzerland has relented to the US (and other countries) pressure and allowed its banks to disclose such accounts if requested by (between other), the US (IRS). To avoid lengthy and costly investigations and lawsuits, the IRS then offered an amnesty for the US account holders which collaborated and ROMNEY made use of it by paying retroactively the corresponding taxes without further legal consequences

    IF SO, THIS MEANS: ROMNEY "CHEATED” BUT WAS ABLE TO ARRANGE HIS SITUATION AS MENTIONED.

    OBVIOUSLY, HE DOESN’T WISH TO SHOW SUCH TO VOTERS, AS IT WOULD BE VISIBLE IN THE TAX RETURNS OF 2005-2009.

    AND MOST PROBABLY, THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN HAS HEARD THE SAME RUMORS I MENTION ABOVE.

    August 17, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Factoid

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
    Hey OBAMA, try talking about ANYTHING that matters
    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
    You know, those things that are tanking around ALL of us, no matter what party's rhetoric we may feebly attempt to resonate with? Those things in sharp decline suffering under Failed leadership:
    Jobs – Infrastructure – Production – Immigration (impacts to taxpayers, Education, Health Care) – (failing global leadership in) Sciences, Technology, Research.

    Why can't grads and 20-somethings get jobs, or full time jobs, driving true unemployment from 14-20% depending on States?

    Why are you an utter Fail, who should have been Fired by your party and followers for driving us into sharp decline, and impacting EVERY citizen of this nation? How long do you think you can fool the people who support your false oligarchy as they wake up and realize that you have done NOTHING FOR THEM or for ANYONE THAT MATTERS TO THEM. Fail.

    August 17, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. larry

    I Romney gives in to Obama on the taxes they will just find something else to divert attention from the subjects that really matter . Surely people can see what they are doing.

    August 17, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. Saboth

    Well duh. We'll see how the 1% has gamed our system to benefit themselves while the rest of us struggle to pay our 15, 25% taxes. Everyone loves to shout: "Well, he paid what the law required, not a penny more." You do realize people like Mitt Romney, lobbyists and corporations have majorly influenced our tax system right? They lobbied to keep Capital Gains at 15%. They fought tooth and nail against raising it (and this was pretty recently). They lobby for tax incentives and tax havens and exceptions and subsidies. So then to act like they are innocent: "Hey, I just follow the law (after I secretly wrote it) is misleading to say the least. Even if Romney paid 13% (which is far too low, most of us can agree), there is still the matter of how his IRA grew to 100 million in 10 years while contributions are capped. If you or I maxed out our IRA for 10 years, it would come out to 50k.

    August 17, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. zoyster1

    We don't care about Romney's tax returns for the last 5 or 10 years. He's already released tax returns for the last couple of years. So what? What we care more about is Obama's school records and papers. How about Obama releases his records, transcripts and papers and we'll stop insisting he show them to us.

    August 17, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. james

    The Republicans say they want to talk about the economy. Where is their jobs bill? Where is their healthcare bill? Where is their mortgage foreclosure crisis solution? While they talk, they spend their time pushing voter supression legislation at the state level, "personhood" bills at both the state and federal levels, and bills to limit women's right to made decisions regarding their own health care. In short, the Republicans are not looking to help the middle class, address disparities in the tax code, or strenght our economy. They are pushing their hard-core religious right-wing ideology to justify the promotion of their own self interests.

    August 17, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. riptin

    I don`t think there is a sane person on the planet that does not think the golden Mitten is hiding something. He knows that if those tax returns somehow go public he is through, not only as a candidate but he could possibly end up in prison.

    August 17, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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