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. MikeinMN

    Mitts returns must be pretty damning, either that or he's of the opinion that due to his social status that that would be beneath him. 'Come'on folks, you can trust me!'

    August 17, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. Ken Margo

    @who cares. Oh I see you're a birther. That explains your intelligence or lack of.

    August 17, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  3. Roflmao

    Hilarious. Show us the returns... Show us the returns... We can't find anything negative and the American public is catching on to all the lies... Mitt is really a giant lillyputian in disguise... Um. No wait.. Um taxes! Yeah maybe we can find something that is partially true so we can bend the truth just enough to distract voters from the debt and unemployment and all the executive orders that bypass the democratic process. Must save emperor Obama... must save emperor....

    LOL... Tooooooo funny

    August 17, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Diana

    It seems pretty clear that there is something so devastating in those tax returns that sharing them woudl end his run. How out of touch can you be? "I paid 13%" like he should get a medal? I paid 35%

    August 17, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. SamdavisJ

    Romney didn't write the federal tax laws. So why does it matter what he paid as long as he followed the tax laws. Someone posted that everyone else is paying 30 percent, I don't know where you came up with that number but that's ridiculous.

    August 17, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. beau

    Religious sales people believe that they can sell their version of Christianity to weak-minded Christians. Mr. Osteen is attempting to use his standing among Christians to influence the election. Thus, he has revealed his hand and should have no credibility with true followers of Christ. Mormonism does not adhere to the teachings of Christ and therefore it is not Christianity. Many will preach in His name, but beware of them. Christians are followers of Christ and know the he is GOD. Moreover, they are advocates for the poor and homeless.

    August 17, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. beau

    I used to be a repub till congress was taken over by the tea party and Romney as our candidate.I cannot support a man who is a draft dodger and a tax evader.The repub congress has done nothing for vets,nothing for the middleclass.All of the good repubs have gone or have been forced out by the extremists that care nothing for the average joe or veterans like myself.Until we get real candidates that care for the middleclass and vets I will not vote for the repubs.Honor and respect,and caring for this nation is what the repubs used to stand for ,now we have wackjobs from the tea party holding america hostage and thats as un patriotic as it gets,it is hurting many americans,our economy and soldiers who are looking for work. Romney is not the answer he is the problem with America with his lies and phony religion...Sorry this voter will stay an ex repub till the party becomes honerable again.

    August 17, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Independent Voter

    Romney is a loser and hopefully we will send him packing on 11/6 to one his mansions. Hopefully we will not see him or Ryan in 2016.

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. beau

    The Ryan choice is EXCELLENT
    Ryan has the courage to challenge Big socialist government programs like Social Security and Medicare.
    Politicians have been deathly afraid to challenge senior citizens on Social Security and Medicare because they are such a powerful voting block
    But Senior Citizens have been feeding at the government trough for too long.
    It's time Seniors learned that nothing is "Free" and that WELFARE FOR THE ELDERLY is no different from welfare for the poor.
    American seniors are just going to have to learn to save their money and rely on themselves in their old age.
    NO MORE GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS TO SENIORS
    It's time to end the two biggest socialist programs in the federal government....MEDICARE and SOCIAL SECURITY.
    And the Romney/Ryan team is the ones to do it.
    You are going to pay your way now old people, no more free lunch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. JoJo

    '....I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face,' Romney". After 4 years of that birther nonsense, the Republicans have no credible complaint.

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. CDOG

    What if Obama proposed a deal that revealed Romney tax data in exchange for Obama's college transcripts and citizenship status during college? Would that be fair for the liberals? Make sure you get Obama's correct last name when you pull his transcripts! Possible discrepancies in taxes or major confusion on foreign exchange student and citizenship status!!! I'll vote American!

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. JiminNM

    So politicians, where are your 1041 filings, the returns that allow you to recover all the taxes you paid because income tax is part of the fraud? The wealthy with their good lawyers can use statutes put in place because of the Federal Government official and Federal Reserve fraud that the poor do not have the resources to figure out how to use. Putas, the whole lot are putas.

    August 17, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Nietodarwin

    This will not stop. The American people want him to release his taxes, and then, even still, we don't want him

    August 17, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Sunlight99

    Romney missed an opportunity to get Obama to open up all of his records (school records, fast and furious) that Obama has sealed. At least Romney knows that his records are legal – Obama's on the other hand might prove interesting in regards to Obama's potentially claimed foreign student status and whether Obama shares guilt int the murder of the border guard.

    August 17, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. Bev Varnado

    I want the TRUTH about Obama. Why would his publicist write a bio about him and say he was born in Kenya? Why would the Harvard Law Review write a bio about Obama and say he was born in Kenya? Why would all the newspapers and t.v. stations in Chicago always say he was born in Kenya? I don't believe he was born in Kenya but if not that makes him a liar of gigantic proportions. I don't care about his grades but I DO want to know if he claimed to be a foreign student to help pay for his college. I want to know what he put as his citizenship on his visa in 1981.

    August 17, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. Odyssey

    If you were to hire a candidate for a job, and he rejects a background check, would you give him the job?

    August 17, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. tigertom

    Obama should just step down now, so we can get on with changing the country for the better, without socialism.

    August 17, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. Cyprustree

    So Mittens says he's paid 13% in taxes.... Gee .... what a sweet rate. My tax rate is at least twice what his is, but I sure don't make the money he does. And I wonder if he actually even paid that much. How can anyone take the word of a liar? This guy is a total loser. He still refuses to release those returns. WHY? He is hiding something he doesn't want those potential voters of his to see. This is just another indication of what an elitist this jerk is. He considers himself too good to follow the rules and practices, including the one HIS OWN FATHER started, which was releasing tax returns. I wonder how his father feels about that? This guy is a cheat, a liar and a crook. Otherwise he'd release the tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. AS

    Only a liberal would believe that 13-14% of millions of dollars is an insufficient level of tax. And how convenient it is that you fail to mention the percentage that Romney contributed to charity.

    Most independent people, who are capable of taking care of themselves, and don't rely on Uncle Sam – would prefer to donate their tax dollars to a charity of their choice – as opposed to giving it to the HIGHLY efficient federal government who brings us such shining examples of efficiency such as the US Postal Service.

    Would you all PLEASE move to Italy or Spain?

    August 17, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  20. dbof texas

    i bet Mitt will release the tax return if Obama release his transcript from colleges he atteneded.

    August 17, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. Houston Oro

    I'm much more concerned about what a politician will do with my money than what he does with his. Hence I support Romney. Obama will take as much of mine as he can get his hands on and give it to people who won't work. Notice, I did not say can't work.

    August 17, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Can We Stop With the Lie That 48% of Americans Pay No Taxes?

    Okay, please, people. I am so sick of hearing that 48% of people pay "no" taxes. Almost all of those people that pay no INCOME taxes are actually paying plenty in PAYROLL taxes. FICA, FUTA, Social Security, you know, all that crap that an employer takes straight out of your check and pays to the government before you ever see any of your hard-earned dollars. Then there are sales taxes on what's left of that when you actually go to spend it (except groceries, etc.). Now, if those people make below a certain amount after allowing for deductions, yes, they then have to pay no INCOME taxes. If your income is low enough after deductions, you have to pay no INCOME taxes. If that doesn't bother you that Mitt Romney only pays 13% In income, why does it bother you that their income is so low that they owe no further taxes than FICA, FUTA, etc. Which by the way, Mitt Romney doesn't even pay those because he's not employed by anyone. So there you go.

    Now, using the Mitt Romney theory that giving to charity is actually part of your taxes, then you might say that these low income people are actually paying 100% in taxes. After all, if Mitt counts his contributions to the Mormon church as part of his taxes, and we all know he does, as he has explained it many, many times, then these lower income people are actually paying 100% of what they have left after payroll taxes to the neediest charity they know: Themselves!

    Romney Finance 101: If charity = taxes, then lower income people are paying 100% of their pre-tax dollars to charity.

    August 17, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  23. ted

    It is clear that Romney is avoiding telling the truth and providing evidence of his tax returns as he is hiding some explosive and embarrassing information. How any of you rightwing wackos can support this idiot is beyond me. He is a job destroyer, a liar, and has no plans to create jobs, fix the economy or anything. He is anti-Obama all the way and I do believe that the GOP is signed its death warrant with the negativity and obstruction and obfuscation. Bye idiots.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 17, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  24. John V

    This is the freaking LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD! Not so petty as a baseball-card-swap "you show me- I'll show you" 6th grade stunt. Obama has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT OTHER THAN THIS!!!!! A president who has 4 years under his belt can do no more than make up lies to distract the shallow minded? Pathetic!!! Tell us Obama – what is your plan for "hope and change" now? You drove the country into the crapper and now can only stick your head up among the crap to blame. Dems, I can agree with your stance on political issues. But this fool is the end of the country as we know it. We put up with him. Put up with a guy who has actually succeeded at a real job...

    August 17, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. fatal42

    If Rommney is not smart enough to find any and all legal tax loopholes ,to pay as little tax as possible ( tell me which one of you libs don't do it ) then he's not smart enough to be my PRES.

    August 17, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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