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. Anonymous

    @Ancient Texan

    Ken Margo- There are fewer people working today than when Obama took office, in fact fewer people than anytime since 1983. Obama has created ZERO JOBS!
    You can still learm a little math – even a Texan. Over 8.5 million jobs were lost before the President took office so just to break even he'd need to create more than 8.5 million to be on the positive side of the number BEFORE Bush caused the recession. Don't just repeat Fox News sound bites unless looking foolish is your goal – if so... it's working!

    August 18, 2012 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  2. Kenny

    The People that care are not going to vote for Mitt anyway. Might as well let the Democrats waste their money and time on this.

    August 18, 2012 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  3. From_LA_2_washington

    Why is so difficult for a rich person to show his taxes? Does he has something to hide? Does he fear something? Now, why there's no transparency in showing tax returns for presidential candidates? Do American people don't deserve to see if the person running for presidency is trustworthy? Everybody has done the same thing (showing tax returns from years back), why is so difficult to Mr. Romney to do the same? Why he commanded to erased the hard disks of the computers that were in use at his public office right after he was done being a Governor? What's he hiding???

    August 18, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  4. Bigoledude

    Why can't Obama just discuss what he has done during his entire term in office? Let him rant on his nearly bringing our country to ruin! Romney has provided what the government requires. Why should he give a rats a$$ what the Obama Chicago thug machine wants? If anyone has hidden his past, it is y'alls darling socialist! We know less about this guy's past than anyone who's ever occupied the White House. Hope and Change. If only we could have it now!

    August 18, 2012 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  5. FactChecker

    "fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face,"??? There is nothing that conservatives complain about more than taxes. It's as though their entire philosophy of life is built around tax policy. And now Romney says it is not important? Unbelievable.

    August 18, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  6. John

    We're still waiting for Obama to release his sealed records. When that happens then Romney might show his more of his tax returns. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Liberals...write and pressure Obama to release his records.

    August 18, 2012 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  7. The fact is

    I won't vote for Romney because he is not trustworthy period.

    August 18, 2012 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  8. Eric Sotelo

    Why am I surprised to see such a wasteful, moronic, imperialist like Obama question and demonize someone like Romney who actually knows about business? This is by far the most desperate act I have seen Obamanut lash out with. I laugh everytime I hear this guy spew out of his Trash Carcass. But all in all, I still pray for him? Because God has a plan, believe it or not. God is going to use Obamanut, what a major failure and a King Saul he really is. (For those who don't understand the reference, Google it..)..

    August 18, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  9. Eric Sotelo

    Why am I surprised to see such a wasteful, mo00ronic, imperialist like Obama question and demonize someone like Romney who actually knows about business? This is by far the most desperate act I have seen Obamanut lash out with. I laugh everytime I hear this guy spew out of his Trash Carcass. But all in all, I still pray for him? Because God has a plan, believe it or not. God is going to use Obamanut, what a major failure and a King Saul he really is. (For those who don't understand the reference, Google it..)..

    August 18, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  10. Jane

    Romney should agree, only after Obama discloses the tax returns for everyone that voted for him in 2008..

    August 18, 2012 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  11. Anonymous

    What is he hiding?!!! THe taxes he paid on the Swiss bank accounts> The money he made on closing factories? Prove otherwise. If you aren't honest now, what will happen in the White House? Too much to hide makes me nervous. I am undecided in this election, but this irritates me to no end!

    August 18, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  12. Derek

    Romney is so busted. Again, not that anything illegal is done. But it will show the American people how much Romney really pays in taxes compared to how much money he has made ... which will undoubtedly anger Middle Class America given their tax rates and how much they pay.

    August 18, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  13. Orwell sees it, again & again

    Ancient Texan, your space ship arrived. Be nice to the little Green men, they will teach you math and history using the brain probes every tea bagger has under their tin fool.

    Obama, offer to resign. They might still negotiate if you admit space aliens hatched you on the other side of the galaxy.

    August 18, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  14. John

    It’s time to move on to the next level on the income tax question.
    How much is Romney holding in foreign bank accounts under the category of differing domestic income taxes by taking the differed status for foreign income. Nothing wrong with using the differed international income from taxes until you become president and give yourself and other rich friends like those at Apple the option to bring international income in without paying any taxes. At this point he will have used his public office for personal gain (millions). It is why he can’t expose his income taxes. Because when his plan comes to light and the public will not stand for someone using public office for personal gain. It’s always about Romney can’t wait for the first stories to come out about his personal gains from going home to Utah to work the Olympics.

    August 18, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  15. Blaster34

    Hey Mitt, don't worry about your tax returns, since the IRS is not concerned, neither am I. Continue to focus on the economy. Yesterday, the economy....44 states had increased rates of unemployment, far more important than your tax returns. Keep pounding the economy and the gutting of Medicare by obama and let obama keep pounding the trivial tax return issue, you got him on the run.

    August 18, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  16. protank

    where is Obamas college transcripts? How about a trade, Romney paid four million in taxes in one year. Did you liberal foodstamp, welfare users pay that much? Get a job and a shower you libs are as bad as OWS. 100 million on govt assistance, 8.3% unemployment, four dollar gas, 16 trillion in debt, Obama had his chance and failed. You worry more about Romnys money than your own. distraction-deceit-diversion,Dissimulation. No record to run on. Get real!!!

    August 18, 2012 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  17. Robert

    I think Romney should show his tax returns when Obama shows his college transcripts, where the money came from to go to college, to travel, and to buy his first house. You liberals want to dig into someones past, then let's do it; your candidate first.

    August 18, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  18. julie

    ALL of you mit tthe twit lickers the only excuse YOU can come up with is obama should release his college transcripts REALLY.....HE IS ALREADY THE PRES..............Y do you think a black man can't go to HARVARD.......U are as krazy as Mitt
    relesae your college trans........please numbskull..one has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OTHER taxes R much more incriminating........your lyin azz romney is truly hiding something very determental to his campaign and apparentally will play inot the hands of the OBama Team and your liyin azz Mitt the twit KNOWS THIS...Y ELSE would he be so adament about showing them......................the show us your college trabscript is NOTHING compaared to someones taxes AND "YOU PEOPLE" KNOW THIS and your only arguement is show us your college trans.....PLEASE you are just as stupid as mitt

    Obama 2012

    August 18, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  19. Atea Clouwn

    The GOP congress has quietly helped outsource jobs – even now – as they fight Obama's jobs plan that would end their exemptions they won for the "job creators" that allows them to hire foreign workers with their Bush tax cuts.

    August 18, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  20. Atea Clouwn

    LOL – President Obama graduated from Harvard with honors. That's pretty darn good by anybody's measure.
    But keep clamoring for his transcripts. What next? Kindergarten records? Your racism is showing through again, tea nuts.

    August 18, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  21. JOE

    In the end, Romney pays way more than you. So shut up already, his tax returns are a non issue.

    August 18, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  22. Gaunt

    In the history of the US presidency, NO president has ever been compelled to release his long form Birth certificate, nor his college transcripts. Not once. Romney, notably, has released neither. yet the tea baggers keep squealing for Obama to do these things.

    On the other hand, it is absolute standard practice for all presidents and candidates to release their past tax returns. Obama and Biden have released 12 years, so did Clinton and Gore. Kerry released 20 years. Its not just democrats: Bush jr and Cheney released 8 years, Reagan released 6 years. Go back to FDR, he released ALL his tax returns. Romney's father, when he ran for office, released 10 years.

    Yet Romney (who is running as a 'business' candidate) feels he is special, and does not have to do what nearly everyone else has done. yet the tea baggers defend this with the same hypocritical ferocity that demand more and more releases from Obama.

    Why dont we hold Romney to everyone's standard before we demand more of Obama that NO president has ever had to face? Why cant Romney meet the current President's stand of openness, and release 12 years of income taxes as well?

    Why do the lunatic, frothing tea baggers insist on this staggering double standard, defending Romney's cowardice while attacking Obama for not releasing even more?

    August 18, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  23. calvin

    frist he did not pay any tax for 10 years now he offer a defence that he paid at lease 13% for the last 10 years. now all the kool air drinkers are saying he a tax dodger he mis treats animals he a lier hewill tax the poor he will give all the rich people a tax break. obama is the second coming of christ he nevers lie he has a plan to fix it he kill leader of the rebels he walks on water and all his plan work. check the record for the last 3 years no jobs debt going out of sight the russia and chain have stop him in every way to bring world pease iran thumb there nose at him just think what 4 more years will bring and then cry

    August 18, 2012 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  24. Non Disclosure Mitt

    It comes down to trust. If we can't trust him to release his tax returns, how transparent and trust worthy will he be if he became president? He has already shown as governor of Massachusetts that he is capable of hiding information from the public when he had computer systems erased before he left office.

    August 18, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  25. .

    You didn't build that. Someone else did.

    I can't wait to vote.

    August 18, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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