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. blue19

    Obviously there is something in Mittens returns he doesn't want in the public domain. It is either criminal activity he was given amnesty for or he paid such a ridiculously low tax rate on tens of millions of dollars of income it will only inflame the notion the rich have the system stacked in their favour.

    August 17, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Pixelpusher6

    While there are things I like about Obama I just don't believe Obama truly understands the intricate nature of economics. Spending money i.e. more stimulus, is not the answer to our economic problems and while it might help things short term it really is just a band-aid. I believe Romney is much more moderate than he appears but has to put on the show of being a far right conservative to get the support / funding from the base. The problem is Romney has alienated many moderate republicans and independents like myself by adding far right Paul Ryan. Also Romney has to be more upfront and honest because right now his character is being questioned and it seems like he just wants to deflect it instead of addressing it head on.

    August 17, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Pixelpusher6

    While there are things I like about Obama I just don't believe Obama truly understands the intricate nature of economics. Spending money i.e. more stimulus, is not the answer to our economic problems and while it might help things short term it really is just a band-aid. I believe Romney is much more moderate than he appears but has to put on the show of being a far right conservative to get the support / funding from the base.

    August 17, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Really?

    @Pixelpushers- Get serious. So IF he did what you are implying he would be guilty of nothing because he would have paid interest and penalties. What's the crime? Can you or your hate the rich and successful cronies come up with some other luny assumptions about Romney? Yeah, I'm sure you will conjure up something else to try to distract from Obama's failures.

    August 17, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. mhill1234

    Sure the White House may stay silent, but the PACs and super PACs that support Obama would go crazy on them.
    People like Obozo hate successful people.
    All success must come from the state comrade

    August 17, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Pixelpusher6

    While there are things I like about Obama I just don't believe Obama truly understands the intricate nature of economics. Spending money i.e. more stimulus, is not the answer to our economic problems and while it might help things short term it really is just a band-aid.

    August 17, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Pixelpusher6

    Unlike Obama, Romney has to prove his character because right now it is a relative unknown, and lately he hasn't been doing a great job. If Romney releases a couple more years of tax returns then he'll probably get my vote, if he doesn't my only choice then is Obama. This tax return issue will not go away when 2/3 people think it's important. It's too bad McCain isn't running this year because he would most likely win by a landslide.

    August 17, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Mmoore

    Romney should agree to this deal when Obama agrees to turn over his college transcripts and thesis. These are as routinely provided by presidential candidates as are tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. me

    Hey Sandy Green, you're ignorant? You and your type have been screaming for a certificate for almost four years now, And what? You got it!!!

    August 17, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. mm

    Show the tax records. They are important for we, the people to see to determine where and how his mind and policies work as potential CIC. "Trust me..." NOPE!

    August 17, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. mikey

    The AARP stands to collect billions if Obama is reelected and the taxation under Obamacare is allowed to begin. AARP-selling out old people.

    August 17, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Paulie_P

    Show us your sealed college records and Operation Fast and Furious White House memos.

    August 17, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

    garypsmith321

    Mr. President, why does the attorney general Eric Holder seem to be a war with the states instead of organized crime?

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

    Because the rethugliban are organized in their criminal attempts to prevent Americans from exercising their right to vote.

    August 17, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. SlowGun

    @Txjack

    I ask you who do you want running the USA

    a Jr. senator that was educated in Indonesia and only made money from his book sales

    A Govern who is experienced and knows how to run successful bunnies sand make money.

    We need someone that will that this country out of the bankruptcy we are heading for

    -------------------------------

    Lets ask the question a little differntly.

    I ask you who do you want running the USA

    Some one who want to do away with the bush tax cuts for the riches 1% while keeping the cuts for everyone else?
    or
    Some who's tax plan published on his owe website as been analized by the Center for Tax Policy and determined that it will raise taxes on the middle class by up to $2,000 a year. (great away to help the economy...take more money away from the largest consumer base)

    Look it up...here's the link ...copy & paste in your browser.

    http://taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/romney-plan.cfm

    August 17, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. Moiraesfate

    What Romney is saying is that he wants to lower taxes for the rich to 28% who have already seen record profits over the last couple of years but aren't hiring anyone. Then he wants to increase taxes on the middle class who are already seeing less wages adjusted for inflation than they did in 1976. This mind set will destroy this country and cannot be allowed. If you think this is good, there is something seriously wrong with your brain.

    August 17, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Malory Archer

    Sandy Greene

    Why don't we make a deal with Obama and ask him to show us his certificate of birth!!!

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

    He has – time and time again. Perhaps we should demand the same of half-Mexican mittens.

    August 17, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. Ex-GOP Con

    Why won’t the ex-governor Mormon Rich Money release his tax returns? This IS important to the issue of the economy.

    Is it because it will reveal he paid no taxes? Possibly or possibly not, but it’s a little more devious than that.

    We may find out that during the recession when he was given the Bush era tax cuts to reinvest in the economy and grow it, he instead shipped those savings into offshore accounts while the economy shrank and the country suffered.

    The purpose? Maybe to set up trust funds for his children and grandchildren and earn interest. To guarantee his clan future wealth. Definitely a smart thing to do.

    BUT it hardly supports the purpose of the Bush tax cuts which were given to encourage the 1% so-called “job creators” to go out and reinvest their savings into the American people so that the wealth could “trickle down”.

    What really ended up happening? The wealth remained trapped in the 1% and shipped overseas to guarantee the survival of their future generations, while the rest of us hard working American middle class were forced to suffer during the recession.

    Why won’t the ex-governor Mormon Rich Money release his tax returns? It would reveal why he fights hard for the 1%.

    August 17, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. PJ

    Show us the tax returns. The people deserve to know the history.

    August 17, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. Hopeandchange

    Chicago thug! One way deal......Offer your your real birth certificate and college transcript, Obumbo you are a fool!

    August 17, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. sailorgirl

    Who cares about Romney's tax returns??? I ask the news media to please please please focus on the important issues we are facing..... getting the economy back on track and creating jobs! That's what the majority of us are interested in not personal taz returns.

    August 17, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Howdydoodie

    Romney should either just ignore Obama or every time Obama says release your tax returns, he needs to tell Obama to release his school records.

    August 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Everyone knows he's rich. Obama's almost as rich."

    Rmoney net worth – well north of $250M.

    Obama net worth – somewhere north of $4-$5M.

    Yeah, super the same.

    August 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. Hopeandchange

    Chicago's one way deal......Offer your your real birth certificate and college transcript then maybe he'll consider.

    August 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  24. TomGI

    I don't care what Romney or his co-presidential candidate say. I hit the "Mute" button on my TV every time they appear to do a soundbite.

    August 17, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. rep

    Romney's says, "just, trust me"! And conservatives eat it up. lol Wow....you guys are desperate.
    Imagine if Obama ever said that to you....about anything!

    August 17, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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