Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.
August 17th, 2012
07:46 AM ET
6 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. Joe Clark

    Its the economy stupid! Does that statement ring a bell gentlemen? Obama and Romney, if they only had the intelligence, would do well to get back to real issues at hand. Right now both candidates are losing the debate.

    August 17, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Tomathin

    Who would ever pay more taxes then asked for by the government? Romney paied what the current tax law requires. Does the tax law need to be changed?... Probably... Obama has had four years to at least propose change and hasn't. I doubt Obama wakes up on tax day and is like "Wow that's all I owe?, I think I will pay a little more just for fun!"

    August 17, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. virg

    look people...if you don't understand the tax system (and most people don't) then keep your remarks to yourself. Rich people are paying more taxes than you ever will. American's are taxed on their income (depending on how much it is) at a rate of around 30%. If you take your hard earned dollars and invest them and create income from those investments then you will pay capital gain taxes...those taxes will be around 15%. This is what Romney is paying. He paid his initial taxes and is now paying capital gains. That is how it works. We live in a capitalistic society. it is a good thing for the rich to invest their money to create more jobs and there by create more income and more income tax. What scares me is how many of you people posting your comments here don't understand this. Another scary thing is you liberals know more about Romney than you know about Obama. But what scares me the most is you guys have the right to vote.

    August 17, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Gus Gomez

    As the Granddaddy of the Democratic Party, William Jefferson Clinton repeatedly stated during his campaign against George HW Bush: "It's the Economy, Stupid"
    It's not about Romney's Tax returns. Talk about a desperation move. Divert, and Distract from the real issue.

    August 17, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. LiveFree OrDIe

    Watch Aaron Russo's: From Freedom to Fascism

    Might explain why Romney is not paying taxes. As there is no law on the books requiring you to pay an income tax.

    August 17, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  6. Jim Jones

    How about 5 years of Romney's tax returns for Obama's Birth Certificate. And maybe he should throw in some of the College transcripts that he's been hiding, as well....

    August 17, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. IrvineCAVoter

    Wow. Ronmey campaign just proved to the American citizens that he'll be as dishonest as long as the fringe right-wing followers push his mantra through the cracks. I am convinced that Romney campaign is running a his message on Race/ethnicity. In other words, he's connecting with followers who despise the African American people and is using codes to get his followerers to vote for "the white guy" theme.

    August 17, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  8. Dennis

    How many years of Ryan's Tax returns did Romney need to Honestly vet a VP?

    August 17, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  9. gord

    i think the job shippers like romney has a lot to do with unemployment–ship jobs and replace them with food stamps not a good idea

    August 17, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  10. RetainingH2O

    Obama is getting desperate. You know he's out of ammunition when he badgers Romney into supplying his campaign and the media with more ammo. Desperation will bring out the TRUE Barrack for all to see.

    I'd say the deal offered by Donald Trump is fair. Romney will release 5-years of his tax info... in exchange for Obama releasing his college records and the Fast-n-Furious e-mails the administration is hiding. It seems fair to me. :>)

    Is Joe Biden still going to be allowed to speak at the Democratic Convention? Heeee Hawwww.

    August 17, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. gord

    there are lots of jobs if you have the skills –if you only have high school education your jobs are overseas thanks to mitt

    August 17, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. cronewinter

    Pretty simple really, if he doesn't show the returns he will lose. He's obviously got a lot to hide or he would not take the risk he's taking in refusing. What he has done with his taxes may or may not be legal but they are with out doubt completely immoral as is his entire plan for this country.

    August 17, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. Reaganrepub2

    Ronmey needs to release his tax records just like all the other candiates back to his father. If he doesn't he must be hiding something bad since politicians always do what's best for their campaign.

    And having a "businessman" as president won't help the country. A businesses sole focus is on maximizing profit to the detriment of everything else. Governments should not be run that way.

    August 17, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. judith

    When has any candidate been asked to release his "academic political papers." Releasing tax returns is actually a normal act of compliance and transparency for a candidate. Mitt and Queen Ann obviously don't want the general public to get a look at tax dodges for the rich and famous. They make me nauseous.

    August 17, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. brandi

    Unbelievable. Dear Mr. Romney, If you release just 5 more years of your tax returns we promise we will no longer spread unsupported, malicious lies about your taxes. Shame on you Obama campaign and shame on you Harry Reid!

    August 17, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. TedNugent

    Releasing your tax returns should be a requirement to be a the ballot.

    August 17, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  17. garypsmith321

    Millions of Americans 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 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. TPF

    Chicago deserves to have both The classless mayor they now have, and the Obama's. Please sen them home in January 2013. America will be so much better off.

    August 17, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  19. Manish Gupte, PhD

    Even Einstein had difficulty filing taxes!! This is joke: In the movie producers the guy with a blue blanket suggests Mel Brooks' drama company give 50% share to 5 people!!

    August 17, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. phil

    OMG....OBAMA AND DEMS......it does not matter WHAT Romney paid in taxes people!!! If it was all withing the tax laws and legal IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!!...................Why don't you put this much energy into fixing your deficit???

    August 17, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. Cindy

    Romney is the FACE of America's Financial Problems. Ryan is the FACE of corrupt government of the House.
    Romney said he would sign the Ryan Budget – Here is part of our debt. Why shouldn't the wealthy pay it off too.

    Ryan’s budget, recall, would raise $2 trillion less in tax revenue over the next decade than President Obama’s budget.

    August 17, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  22. Keith

    So Twit Romney sas he never paid less than 13% in taxes, who are we to disbelieve him. HOWEVER is might be prudent to remember one of the most famous sayings of Ronald Reagan, you remember St. Ron the Saint of the Republican party.
    Ok Ok so what did Ron say, Ron said "Trust but verify".
    So Mrs. Hoity Toity Romney , we trust you BUT we would like to VERIFY what your idiot husband has said.
    And OUR AUTHORITY is Ronald Reagan.

    August 17, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. NoMoBama

    The liberals have ZERO record to run on so they need a distraction. They want to divert attention away from the failed president and Romney isn't going to give them the ammunition they so desperately want. They would keep blabbing as loud as they could that he took advantage of loopholes and shelters. Well, so would anyone else that wanted to keep as much of their earned income as they could. If Romoney did anything illegal the IRS would be screaming LOUD...and they're not LOL Mitt is too smart for this manure.

    August 17, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  24. Keith

    Did anyone hear what twit Romneys Hoity Toity wife said the other day, she said that Twit couldn't do this election stuff WITHOUT HER. Does that mean that with Twit as President we get two for the price of one. Remember the unrelenting screams of protest when Bill clinto made a similar remark about Hilary and himself.
    I haven't heard anyone say anything about this.

    August 17, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. ChrisO

    Ha ha ha! MItts taxes? Please – anything to keep the economy off the radar. Biden's gaffes are deliberate – every time he blunders the narrative covers him 24/7 fo 2 days instead of the rampant unemployment, loss of family net worth, etc. Nothing could be better for Obama – expect more gaffes.

    August 17, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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