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. carrborian

    mitt is lying–you can see it in his face and in his body language.

    August 17, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. rashad

    who care about Mitt Romney tax returns? the only people care about his tax and money is the people who do not have a life live on the gov money .... job job job and more job.President Barack Obama can not do his job ... wake up American.

    August 17, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. dodgedart66

    It's obvious the camapign is out of ideas. This issue has been out of sight for several days, but they keep it up.

    August 17, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. What a missed opportunity

    The President already has Mr. Romney's tax returns and the full authority of the Treasury dept to prosecute anything illegal. How about Tax Returns in exchange for the Democrats in Congress passing a budget? Would you really want a candidate who couldn't figure out how to pay the least in taxes the law allows?

    August 17, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Ted Cape

    Let Obama release his college records and we can find out what he's been hiding and find out that he claimed to be a foreign student to get preferential! treatment and that he falsified government documents !!!!

    August 17, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. oustsorosvanjonesobama

    Mr. Romney please don't release any more tax info!!
    Let them keep whinning about this while you and Congressman Ryan adderss th economy and Medicare!!!
    Let obama have his phony wars!!!

    August 17, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. v_mag

    The R/R campaign is always boasting about how much money they're raising. This is not only an indication that money is the total focus of their lives. It is also an admission that it will require huge amounts of money to spread the lies which fuel their campaign. They NEED that money to convince people to vote against their own best interests. It will take every dime they can finagle to overcome the massive negatives they've generated just by being who they are. Money is they only hope they have for election, because their policies, the same policies as George W. Bush, do not appeal to normal Americans.

    August 17, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Jake B

    ..hmmm...so let me see if I understand what's going on... people whine about Obama asking for something every presidential candidate has to do & yet defend Romney on releasing his tax returns one time but were OK to insist that Obama needed to release his birth certificate more than one time just to prove he's an American ?...lol seems contradictory... & if that request wasn't about race or racism for that matter...how is asking Romney to release his records unfair? ...seems kind of cynical & stupid in our part...

    August 17, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  9. wade

    One would think that the President would have learned his lesson by now that people want to know about the issues not his insanity anymore. Ryan and Romney are placing IDES and ISSUES on the table. Obama and Biden are acting hateful and insane.

    August 17, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Name

    It's obvious Romney has something to hide. He doesn't know how to tell the truth. His "truth" changes from day to day. He cannot be trusted!

    August 17, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  11. eciam

    He hides his taxable income in overseas tax havens (not paiding his fair share in taxes), Has a Shell Business (just a PO Box # fa ake company, Forgets he has a Swiss Bank account com,e on people! Americans with lots of money, place there cash in overseas havens for one reason only – To Hide There Money!
    It may be legal, but man does it sinks,

    That’s not the only money Romney has in tax havens. Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers.

    I could never vote for him as President of the USA!
    Independent for Obama 2012

    August 17, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. wade

    Obama release your school records that is far more important that any stupid tax returns that the IRS is not interested in.

    August 17, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. SugarKube

    When Obama releases fast and furious and Obama's college writings, only then should Romney consider anything.

    August 17, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. miki02

    I am a Republican, however I don't feel I can support Gov.Romney because he needs to be transparent with his words and deeds which includes his taxes for 10 years.

    August 17, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Anthony

    Romney has already lost the tax returns debate. As is usually the case, the coverup is worse than the actual crime, if there is one. People already know that Romney pays a lower tax rate than most taxpayers, even though he makes vastly more than most taxpayers. Refusing to release tax returns undermines Romney's credibility, which is crucial for Romney since Romney is running a campaign of no details. If Romney does not come clean on the tax returns, no one will believe that he has actual solutions to the nation's problems.

    August 17, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. supersam

    He keeps digging about his tax return so he doesn't have to answer me about unemployment,bottomless deficit,and all the empty promises he never kept.

    Yes, I'dlike to see the tax returns but that isn't the most important pressing issue right now.Obama can order IRS to strictly uphold the law,If Mitt or any one including Geithner evaded their taxpayments,I want them punished .

    Let's ignore the fat and get to the beef !

    August 17, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. WiredUpTheBass S.F.

    LOL Wire Palladin...maybe that's why you don't have that kind of money...the limit is what you can put in to your IRA without paying penalty taxes, you can put as much as you want as long as you pay the penalty taxes. Let me guess..you get your IRA from the gov't handout checks?

    August 17, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  18. dodgedart66

    "Gonna put y'alll back in chains" seemed to have died out, but "Where are your taxes" keeps going?????
    Unemployment is going up, gas prices are going up, food prices are going up,...............................

    August 17, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  19. eciam

    Yes tax returns are important, I don't want someone for president who hides his (Taxable Income) in shady off shore tax havens. Remember this statement, "Only Poor People Pay Taxes"

    August 17, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There is the question as to what Romney did. How many average people can say that they paid 13% in income taxes? I doubt that there are that many.

    August 17, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. 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 but it is Obama's people that have had problems with the IRS. he is successful... He has taken advantage of every legal tax break he can... Just like the rest of us. GET OVER it and start discussing issues that affect me and
    My family!!!

    August 17, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. BinaryTooth

    I thought Obama had no control over the super pacs?

    August 17, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Mary

    The guy who boasts about paying 13% in taxes is not going to show his tax returns. It is because Mitt thinks he is different and a "primadonna" and what applies to others does not apply to him.

    August 17, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. C. Douglas P.

    If you ask me, the Romney Campaign is showing the exact same gestures the Republicans in Congress are expressing ... "no, No, NO!" I have observed how far that has gotten us in recovering the economy. It does not work in Congress and it will not work in the Executive Office.

    August 17, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. Forward 2012

    This guy is hiding more than tax returns! He pays less than a tip in taxes, and then he tells us that he’s the only solution putting Americans back to work, but he won’t prove to us the allegation of not paying taxes. He’s a corporate insider who never plays with the same rules and laws like everybody else. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. I will never believe the word of your mouth. Yes Obama and you should be taking about jobs but not until you prove there is nothing fishy is your returns.

    August 17, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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