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. This thought

    I cannot believe or accept how biased CNN is? Shame on you! What ever happened to reporting new without the reporter slant. What a joke this is!

    August 17, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. Xman

    The simplest explanation is usually the best one.

    Romney won't show his tax returns because he has something, or many things to hide.

    And that means America cannot trust him. So long, Mittens.

    August 17, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. AgrippaMT

    This is more proof positive that Mittens is hiding something in refusing to release his tax returns. This alone will cost him the election in November, and that will be good for America.

    August 17, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. Tom Legare

    If this Willard loser gets elected president I fear another Richard Nixon. Lies, secrets and the whole works. What a joy that scenario will be!

    August 17, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Bob the Janitor

    Let's start worring about how Obama is spending OUR money rather than worry about how Romney spends HIS money...

    August 17, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. lynn

    why cant the gop put up someone everybody can vote for ? like mccain minus the kook .

    August 17, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. ezduzit757

    When running for governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he was a resident of Massachusetts for the past 28 years (being a resident for the prior 7 years is a requirement to be governor), but gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney paid property taxes on his Park City, Utah, home as his “primary residence” for the years 1999, 2000, and 2001, and received a deep discount on his property taxes as a result ($54,000.00) – so, he was either lying to the voters of Massachusetts or he was lying the the state of Utah. He has proven himself to be a liar over and over again, yet we are supposed to just take his word that he paid 13% taxes for the last 10 years – his word is worth crap.

    August 17, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Scrappyike

    So it's Romney's fault that the current tax structure has him paying 13% (as Buffet did)? Duh. Get a clue people. Instead of raising the tax on the select few, how about putting us all on the same bracket. I'm willing to pay 13%. Stupid is as stupid does.

    August 17, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Hent

    Obama is a Failure. this country needs change.... like more jobs.

    August 17, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Alll Star Tax Dodger

    As they say trust then verify. Mitt wants us to trust him, however, we have no way to verify. Without some verification his admission is meaningless.

    August 17, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -Bob the Janitor

    Let's start worring about how Obama is spending OUR money rather than worry about how Romney spends HIS money...
    *****************
    I'f Romney's elected, I'm sure he'll toss you a few coins while he drives over you.

    August 17, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Brian

    I hope Romney waits for the first debate and turns to Obama and says: "Mr. Obama I've decided to bring 5 years of tax returns to our next debate if you agree to show up with 5 years of college transcripts"
    Obama will SH** his pants on live television because there's a reason he's been working so hard to hide those records for 6 years.

    August 17, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. 0704American

    Although I have no intention of voting for the GOP, I would rather vote for Palin than Romney or Ryan.
    At least Palin is fairly honest and is smarter than Romney and Ryan.

    August 17, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. gino

    Am I glad ExpatAmerican is ex-pat. Such a combination of venom, racism and ignorance (does he mean Malaysian?) is rare even for rightwingers. Scary.

    August 17, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Malory Archer

    Bob the Janitor

    Let's start worring about how Obama is spending OUR money rather than worry about how Romney spends HIS money...

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

    mittens won't spend your money – he'll funnel it to one of his many offshore accounts.

    August 17, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. PoliticalMagician

    Enough with the redirection and lets discuss the hard issues and who has the best solution to save this country from certain catastrophe.

    August 17, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. DZ

    Arguments aside about how dishonest Romney appears to be, the facts are, the math doesn't work for what Romney's proposing. These people whining about spending seem to be ignoring this 10 trillion upgrade he wants to provide to the military, and just how are we suppose to pay for that? The only way you can, more corporate welfare and throwing seniors, disabled and kids under the bus. Time to brush up on the good book folks, it talks in depth about the religious being misled, here we are.

    August 17, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Jokesterer

    R voter: My candidate sucks but not as bad as yours.
    D voter: No, you are wrong. MY candidates sucks but not as bad as YOURS.

    August 17, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  19. Tom

    I my opinion releasing your tax returns when you run for president is a requirement. If you don't release your returns you are not qualified to run for the office!

    August 17, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. jacobwade

    I don't understand how it is low to ask the possible leader of the whole freakin free world what his taxes are. It has everything to do with the economy and jobs. His taxes will show that giving more money to the rich does not spur more jobs. They take and hid their money overseas. He obviously has something to hide. We would have seen them months ago and moved on. You want to discuss the the problems with this country Mr Romney. It's all in your tax returns. The rich get richer and poor are screwed.

    August 17, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Vote4Roseanne

    Brian

    I hope Romney waits for the first debate and turns to Obama and says: "Mr. Obama I've decided to bring 5 years of tax returns to our next debate if you agree to show up with 5 years of college transcripts"
    Obama will SH** his pants on live television because there's a reason he's been working so hard to hide those records for 6 years.
    ****************************************************
    Apples to Oranges here – where's Mitt's transcripts?

    August 17, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Who cares

    I can see this both ways. Dems want to prove he's a lier, Reps don't want to show the sign of weakness by giving in to the demands. Most people I know try to get as much back as possible on thier taxes, not sure my Mitt should be any different. And I saw comments of people saying they paid over 13%, saw one saying something like 30%...you realize we are talking about FEDERAL taxes here and not a combination of federal, medicare, social security and state taxes right? If you are paying 30% in federal alone I suggest you hire someone to do your taxes because you are screwing yourself.

    August 17, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. bb

    What deal ?? they asked for 10 yrs ?? now 5 ?? i dont see a deal i see spineless oblunder floundering

    August 17, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. Trust But Verify

    If Romney's tax returns weren't an issue, there wouldn't be over 1,000 comments in this thread! Romney can end all of this nonsense by releasing the returns, just like all other presidential candidates have done in the past. Both parties have requested that he do this. What is the problem?

    One more thing, it amazes me that the same "birthers" who asked for the Presidents birth ceritificate are OK with Romney hiding his tax returns. Tax increases are at the center of this election and we as Americans need to see Romney's tax returns in order to make an informed decision. Especially since he is advocating more tax cuts for the wealthiest at the expense of middle class and poor!

    August 17, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Ambrose Smith

    Romney is hiding something and it is becoming more and more obvious.

    August 17, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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