Obama says tax return fight 'isn't overly personal'
August 20th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
10 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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Come on birthers, man up, you are two bit racists.

    August 20, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. bb

    These remarks u dumbocraps keep calling racist r just wrong. bottom line Oblameo id inept, END OF STORY

    August 20, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. REDO Republican Primary

    GET the heck outa here.....talking about this is a distration. Look it is VERY SIMPLE. IF GOP REALLY have a plan to get the economy back on track, they would be EAGER to quench these questions about Romney's taxes and JUST RELEASE them!

    It is Romney/Ryan that ARE NOT serious about their run for PUBLIC office. They are the once dragging on this discussion and distracting Americans from the real issues. The last I checked. Most Americans WANT TO SEE Romney release more taxes.

    August 20, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Arthur Tassinello

    Romney continues to make his "Taxes" an issue. What he doesn't get is not about how much he paid in taxes, but the percentage (%) of taxes he paid. The tax code is screwed up and even though he probably complied with the law he and other very "rich" individual don't pay their fair share. In addition every other Presidential candidate has shared their tax filing information. Get a clue Romney!

    August 20, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. FLIndependent

    @Wired – "Did you hear about the latest Obama wiggle and of course lie. He said no one on his campaign said Romney was a felon."
    She did NOT say Romney was a felon (although that's possible). She said he may have done something that would be considered a felon...comprehension is key!!

    August 20, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "obama needs to cite a legal reason Mitt should present more tax returns"

    No he doesn't. This isn't abotu "legal reasons." It's about wha the American public expects from a candidate for POTUS in terms of them disclosing their financial history. Just because it's not legally required doesn't mean it's not required by the voting public. Mittens (and you) know this and he's running scared and hoping fervently that he can get away with th ebeing the first POTUS candidate in almost 40 years to fail to release numerous years of tax returns. Pray that he doesn't succeed because it will completely wipe the tradition away and we'll never see another set of tax returns from candidates that isn't legall required. Mittens is a coward, plain and simple.

    August 20, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Bill from Long Island

    Republican? Democrat? Both will continue to inflate. Both will keep us armed to the teeth and our armies everywhere. Both will continue to expand government and erode our privacy.

    Believing you are limited to one choice over the other is merely 2-dimensional thinking. On election day you'd be better represented by writing your own name in the ballot.

    August 20, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. jb

    It always make me laugh when people complain "50% pay no fed income tax." Don't they realize
    that Romney may be one of the 50%? Or, even if not, under Ryan's plan he would be?
    (under the study, less than 1 pct was counted as zero, and Ryan proposes Romney pays less
    than 1 pct.)

    August 20, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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