Obama says tax return fight 'isn't overly personal'
August 20th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama says tax return fight 'isn't overly personal'

Washington (CNN) – The ongoing battle over Mitt Romney's personal income tax returns isn't personal, President Barack Obama said Monday, saying instead it was essential for voters to understand a presidential candidate's financial background.

Speaking in the White House Briefing Room, Obama pointed to a precedent on releasing tax returns that extended back to Romney's father, George, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination ahead of the 1968 election.

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"When it comes to releasing taxes, that's a precedent that was set decades ago, including by Gov. Romney's father," Obama said. "And for us to say that it makes sense to release your tax returns as I did, as John McCain did, as Bill Clinton did, as the two President Bushes did, I don't think it's anyway out of bounds."

Romney released his 2010 income tax return and an estimate of his 2011 return when he filed for an extension. He has vowed to release his full 2011 information once it's completed by his accountant.

Democrats say two years of income tax information isn't enough for voters to assess a presidential candidate, and have pressured Romney to release more. Last week Obama's campaign manager said if Romney released an additional three years of tax returns – making five years total – the Obama campaign would stop pushing Romney to release more.

Also last week, Romney told reporters at a press conference that he's paid an effective tax rate of 13% for the past decade, calling the interest in his tax returns "very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face."

On Monday, Obama said voters expected more disclosure from presidential candidates.

"I think people want to know that everybody's been playing by the same rules including those who are seeking the highest office of the land. This is not an entitlement being president of the United States. This a privilege and we've got to put ourselves before the American people to make our case," Obama said.

He later added that the calls for Romney to release more taxes were not making personal attacks on the presumptive GOP nominee.

“This isn’t overly personal, guys," Obama said. "This is pretty standard stuff. We’re not being mean.”

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Filed under: Mitt Romney • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. NOvember 2012

    ok obama...nothing personal about asking you to unseal ALL your records...we do have right to know who you are...so put up or shut that bigmouth

    August 20, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Prosperid

    John McCain has showed taxes throughout his tenure as a Senator (which is a requirement). So during his run for president, he only had to show the 2 yrs because he showed previous years. I'm glad to inform you Fox & Friends folks, so stop using McCain as a scapegoat for Romney not showing his taxes.

    August 20, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Steve- Illinois

    Of course it's nor personal. When you can't run on your record, when the economy is in the toilet, when unemployment keeps edging upward, you have to find something to try and win on!

    August 20, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. kelvin

    Romney is a liar thank god pres obama set the record straight on work requirements for welfare clients, obama/biden 2012 yay

    August 20, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. alien

    Obama=lesser of two evils

    August 20, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. BLKMANinAmerica

    Bottom line (Romney) is running for President of the U.S. NOT king, show your taxes already numbnuts!

    August 20, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    THERE you Teatroll guys are! So weird to see most of you absent from the articles about Akin and the mess he's made for you. Was beginning to wonder if you'd given up on the $0.25 per post you're getting paid. *Winky wink*

    "He himself only released 2 years."

    Where DO you get your misinformation from? Seriously. It's like a reality running into a solid wall at 100mph with you guys.

    August 20, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. HunterPSU

    B.O. spent more time talking about Romney tax return than he did combined for jobs, syria, afghanistan, and the deficit. Thanks B.O. for tallking about what Americans are really concerned about.

    August 20, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Faith-Isn't-a-Preacher

    Ok, Obama and Minions. Get ready for egg on your faces.

    August 20, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. What you hiding Mitt?

    Romney stop your lying and release your tax returns. What are you hiding? Are you one of the off shore tax cheats that filed for the anesty program the IRS offered? Come clean because we are not letting you off the hook! And by the way, I have paid taxes all my life....so keep your cheating filthy hands off my medicare and social security.

    August 20, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. M Garr

    Trust but Verify. Ronald Reagan was right.
    Release the tax returns, Mr. Romney.

    August 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. James Bartel

    It's unclear why Mitt Romeny would have valued the Swiss bank account secrecy, and it would not have enabled him legally to avoid U.S. tax," said Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University School of Law. "This is why there's speculation that Mitt Romeny was part of the amnesty program." to avoid a criminal prosecution.

    Shaviro and other tax experts note that one of the principal benefits of the UBS amnesty program is its anonymity. Nobody who received amnesty from the IRS would ever have to tell the public they had held a Swiss bank account. Any politician who had received amnesty could have simply shut down their account and washed his or her hands of any political liability. And once the IRS was aware of the account, maintaining it would have had no tax benefits.

    August 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. ericck1

    mitt donde estan tus taxes show it

    August 20, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. TY

    You right wingers can say what you must, Obama has done a good job... SHOW US YOUR FED TAXES ROMNEY

    August 20, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. RealityBites

    My bad, Obama did release 10 tens worth of tax returns.
    Heres some highlights from our progressively giving President the media smoothed over in 2008 and doesn't want you to know in 2012.

    2000 240,000 gross income, 2400 donated to charity, .01 or 1%
    2001 275,000 gross income, 1500 donated to charity .005 or 1/2 of 1%
    2002 260,000 gross income, 1000 donated to charity .0038 or 1/3 of 1%
    2003 230,000 gross income, 3400 donated to charity .014 or 1.4 %
    2004 207,000 gross income, 2500 donated to charity .012 or 1.2 %
    2005 1,670,000 gross income, 77,000 donated .046 or 4.6%
    2006 984,000 gross income, 60,000 donated .061 or 6.1%

    August 20, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. bracey

    love how he interrupted Jay Carney's Press Conference!! Come on Obama we are not all that stupid you did it that way so that the press corps could not drill you with some hard questions and were not prepared for you!! Nice stunt now you can say you took reporter questions in the last six months you are nothing but a "politician trying to get re-elected" and have never been anything else. "phony" is a word that comes to mind

    August 20, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Milton K. Wiah

    Wiewweidin SF, I think you listen to fox news everyday and so you lack the ability to understand what Mrs. Cutter
    said. She said if what in the filing said and Romney said about his time at bain proved otherwise then it is a felony.
    IT IS AND HE IS ARE TWO DIFFERENT STATMENTS.

    August 20, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. RealityBites

    Obama sits in church but he obviously doesn't listen..

    August 20, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Howard

    @alien ... obama = lesser and evil.

    August 20, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Brian

    For me the bigger issue is the way Romney has handled this situation. He should have released his tax returns long ago and dealt with any backlash then. If he can't handle backlash about tax returns how can he handle the job of president.

    August 20, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    It is not tax records. It is about who can tell good stuff about the other, period.

    August 20, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Female voter

    Don't these two men running for President have anything better to do than miud sling? Right now it seems like our only choice is the better of two evils. Everyone has made mistakes in the past, but you can't change it. Tell me how you are going to make things better. You could start by not cutting budgets that help the elderly or the sick. Seems to me the rich keep getting richer, the poor poorer and the middle class stuck where they are. I thought this was the land of opportunity. Yea right if you are rich.

    August 20, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    @ NC. You don't want to know about POTUS Obama's college records. All that would prove is that he's much much smarter than you or Willard will ever be. When the standard moves to college records, get back to us. Presently, tax records started by wimpy's own father are the rigor du jour.
    @ Reality Bites check the docs for yourself on Obama's website. He has no tax records to hide unlike your wimpy candidate. Yup it bites alright.

    August 20, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Curt

    The tax returns are very important. He is obviously trying to hide something by not releasing them. He may very well have paid every cent he legally owes, the question is, what is his money invested in? He's been quick to spout off about investing in the US and thats a reason taxes should not be raised for the 1% so that the wealthy can invest in business. Call me crazy but I"ll bet alot of his investments have nothing to do with creating jobs in the U.S. And how about charities, not counting his church did he give money to helping the homeless or similiar charities?

    August 20, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. hardworkdad

    Has is occured to anyone that BO has the tax returns on his desk already?? The news never mentions this and BO is upset because he cant talk about them!! Romney would be crazy to give Dems more ammo to distract the Americans that voted him in. Romney's is a good American that isnt out to take away from the USA what we've been building since 1776.

    August 20, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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