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. AlwaysGunny

    Or u could release the oc where u admitted to know about the DOJ fast n furious murders. Obama sucks.

    August 17, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. Beth

    Why not show your tax returns, Mitt? Maybe because you didn't pay much in the way of taxes? Is that because a big chunk of your assets is stashed in offshore accounts, hidden to the IRS? How very patriotic! The only vote you'll get from me, Mitt, is my vote for Biggest Loser, Liar & Cheat.

    August 17, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Uzi

    The deal should be: If Romney releases his tax returns, Obama releases his full school and legal records.

    August 17, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. mikle

    I don't care about Romney income tax, Obama need to care about American people income.

    August 17, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  5. Independent

    I think that it is simple. I think that the tax returns will show that his extensive money DID generate jobs. The problem is that it is going to show that it generated them at another countries.

    August 17, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  6. trc1962

    There is an order to how you do things when you are wanting a job. For the average americsn it consists of putting a resume, a cover letter describing who you are and why you want the job you are applying for, filling out an application and then submitting to an interview. You usually need a background check, in which your credit is examined as well. The emploiyer wants to know who YOU are before they hire you. Mitt Romney is applying for a job and a big one. He needs to follow the steps to get the job. Release his tax returns period, it is the background check the american people need before they even consider voting for him. Would an employer give someone a big job without carefully checking them out-of course not! This is another example of Mitt thinking he is above board with past candidates-saying I will not release more? This is crazy. There is no reason to discuss any other problems with the country until we KNOW who the guy truley is with his MONEY. He says "just trust me." Sorry Mitt, I am a swing voter and until your tax returns are out there for everyone to see, I will not even listen to you. This will cost Mitt Romney a chance at the election-and only a chance. Nothing can go farther until I see where he is as a person financially. A lot is at stake in this election and he better step up to the plate if he wants the job. By the way 13% is pretty low for a tax rate-one I would love to have!

    August 17, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. Mavrik

    The Romney tax return issue is as stupid as the Obama birth certificate issue. Politicians should stop insulting our intelligence.

    August 17, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Mark Bunch

    Aww, poor little rich boy doesn't want to share his tax returns. Be a man like your daddy and step up, you little pansy.

    August 17, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  9. mdamone

    Who is Obama to 'offer Romney a deal' on tax returns??? The IRS owns the tax return arena and not only do they not offer deals, they APPROVED of Romney's filings each of the past 10 years.

    So if the IRS has found no discrepancies with the rate Romney paid – and the IRS frankly works for Obama, then why would Obama – who pushed back in the same way about releasing a simple birth certificate – want Romney to release the returns?

    So that Romney gets painted as 'a rich guy who is out of touch with the Middle Class.' Pure political gaming while distracting from the real issues. Who cares HOW much Romney or Obama made? Not only does personal income have no bearing on who could best run the country, but the argument is strong that in an economy needing jobs and an economic turn around, the more financially SUCCESSFUL candidate would likey know better how to fix things. They have proved that they can manage large amounts of money well, no?

    No deals, Obama. Stop playing distraction games. That Congressional galley lunch voucher you slipped Reid to claim that Romney did not pay ANY taxes in the past decade did not work.

    Just GTFO.

    August 17, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. Justice for America

    Romney should not release his Tax Returns until Obama releases his, from since he has been in politics, as Chicago Congressman.

    If any one has anything to hide, it is Obama, who had all his records and credentials sealed and has not produced his own tax Returns, before attacking another person of tax fraud.

    What Obama is trying to do to Romney, is to plant the seed of distrust for Romney in the minds of the American people. And it is working. This is it is one of Obama's CHIGACO GUTTER DIRTY POLITICS. and we shall be very stupid to fall for this, and blame Romney for hard work. Applaud Obama for making money from politics and sealing his own records

    If Obama has nothing to hide, he did not have to seal his own records & his credentials. And he should shows all his own Tax Return since his has been in Politics. He owes this to the to the American people, as our President, because he made his money form politics and Tax payer's money

    August 17, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. G Smith

    The Romney tax issue is a very basic one for me.

    It's simply a matter of trust...If you don't trust someone, his or her words mean little, if anything.

    President Ronald Reagan once said , "Trust, but verify", and his quote is so applicable here.

    The idea of someone voting for Romney without having him being properly vetted would be, in my opinion, totally irresponsible and would put the power of the Presidency and us, the Electorate, at risk. A risk we can ill afford at this time.

    August 17, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. garypsmith321

    Millions of American are out of work, the obama administration has a secret deal with the russians that no one can know about until after the elections, every green company that got a bail out from the adminstration has failed, GM stocks are selling at an all time low because the administration forced them to make hybreds that no one is buying, maybe cause they're out of work? The obama administration lost track of $200 billion in stimulus money and hasn't even acknowledged it as a problem. BUT if Mitt Romney releases his tax returns to the public everything will be okay, right?

    Democrates surely are "special" if you're going to believe something like that. No wonder you lack personal success.

    August 17, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. teresa

    ... and when is Obama going to admit he's a Muslim and show his birth records?

    August 17, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  14. Reality Checker

    Is Romney the next Richard Nixon?

    I AM NOT A CROOK!!! I AM NOT A CROOK!!! I AM NOT A CROOK!!!

    August 17, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. txissohot

    The fact he is not releasing means he has something to hide. It can't mean anything else. If he didn't think it would hurt him, he would release them. What more do you need to know to accept he has no problem deceiving and hiding things from the people he wants to govern?

    August 17, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. the420bucsfan

    So, if they sent the letter out to journalists, where is the letter? kind of hard to believe you, when you tell us that there was a letter sent out to journalists, but yet you show no proof of this letter? what a joke Communist News Network, just proof that you report propaganda!

    August 17, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. Loathstheright

    "This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket,"

    August 17, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. HomeSweetHome

    Do you really think the powers that be in this Country did not check, double and triple check and then checked again all of President Obama's information before approving his application? Really?

    Remember this is American, there was no way in h$ll the powers that be weren’t going to put as many road blocks in this man's path to the WH as possible. You do know how "fair" we can be in this Country to all our citizens.

    The only reason people keep asking for the President's BC and College Transcripts is because they figure we have placed so many obstacles in select groups paths in this Country there is no way in h$ll that but a few could have gotten through, let alone one making it to be the Leader of the Free World without cheating somewhere along the way. There thinking not mine. Right?

    As one man asked Senator McCain during the 2008 Election "How did we let this happen?" Words I will never forget.

    Get off it America. Stop looking in the pass we have a real problem in front of us. We now have a party that has been taken over that has a proven liar and tax dodger (off shore accounts in his 2010 tax papers) that wants to take over the Country and the Free World. This same Party wants to win so bad that it is publicly suppressing the vote of Americans. Or do you Care?

    August 17, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. ANTHONY

    ENOUGH SAID BY 2020......!!!!!!!!

    "2020

    Berry Dingle – GET OVER IT? you are either have a pea brain or no brain period.

    A crook is a crook. 13% tax paid for a presidential candidate? the rest of the country paying minimum 30%.

    How nonsense can this be.

    Tell Romney to find another job somewhere no one question about his tax"

    August 17, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Tony in St. Louis

    The American voters are asking to see your tax returns, and you're basically saying "NO", but you want our votes? I will be saying "NO" to you at the ballot box! Romney is either really stupid, or incredily arrogant. The American people mean nothing to him.

    August 17, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. independent

    Is this a deal or a threat by Obama folks?

    August 17, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Dayna Gilbert

    Libbies is tax returns all you have left? Do you care about the real issues? If you want to talk about tax cheats why not criticize Obama for not prosecuting all the tax cheats in his cabinet? In the end you cling to the hope that Romney is cheating, when there is no evidence of it at all.

    August 17, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. independent

    Romney will release all his tax records when Eric Holder releases Fast & Furious records and Obama releases his sealed under grad records!

    August 17, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  24. independent

    Jim Hahn – you crack me up! What is Eric Holder hiding by not releasing Fast & Furious records? What is Obama hiding by sealing his undergrad records he spent 4 million to do so?

    August 17, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. cgs

    Obama is a liar. Who in their right mind would make a deal with him?

    August 17, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
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