Obama says tax return fight 'isn't overly personal'
August 20th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
11 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. ghostriter

    SOrry guys. Obama is running on his record. This "distraction" as the talking point memo says, is actually rather important.

    You see, as a "job creator", we'd like to see how his proposed tax changes would affect him. It would be interesting to see what loopholes he takes and which loopholes he would get rid of.

    So yeah, this is about the economy. IT seems to me that Romney is the one looking to change the discussion. Or rather change the facts in the discussion. THh 3rd outright lying ad about welfare pretty much shows that.

    August 20, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Drew

    Keep hammering Obama don't let up this snake oil salesman needs to get a thourough vetting.

    August 20, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Phil Thomas

    Look all of you idiots calling for Obama to release his records, the guy was president of the Harvard law review. What do you think you will find ? It's standard issue for presidents to release tax returns. It's not standard issue and down right racist to ask for all of this stuff from the first black president when it's never been asked of any of his predecessors who were not black. Yes, and for those of you who hate to see race brought in to the debate it belongs in there. Black voters are being disenfranchised, the first black president Is being asked things to furnish items no other president has been
    asked. The whole he's foriegn, doesn't get what it's like to be American thing. So yes, racist get called racist bottom line and if you don't like it. Than get over your insecurity in regards to the topic. The simple point is if Mitts wants to end this all he has to do is release the taxes like every other president and when you don't it implies something is there to sink the Koch brothers investment and schemes

    August 20, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. TomInRochNY

    It's not personal. It's common sense. It's common practice. It's expected.

    August 20, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. bb

    Not presonell ??? sure. Then why keep it up, ans = OBLUNDER HAS BEEN A TOTAL FAILURE, he cannot run on what he has doNe cause that = ineptness, like sailor at sea for 6 mos who now wants to spend all his money, Thats what oblunder has done SPENT YOUR MONEY, Unemploy under 6% or i wont run the lies just keep spewing.

    August 20, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Why is it that Fox foreign owned media have not been informed of the death of bin Laden, 29 consecutive months of private sector job growth, the stock market are 13,000, an end to the war in Iraq, saving the auto industry, lowest taxes in 50 years, etc? Yet the mindless say the president has no record to run on. 33 attempts by republicans to repeal ACA, and 60 attempts to abolish abortion by the GOP congress do not create jobs.

    August 20, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. bb

    Wheres Biden today at the bakery ???? I guess hes not allowed to talk anymore !!!!!!

    August 20, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. American People

    The GOP plan for the American People: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Unemployed, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Employed, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military.

    August 20, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. Jon

    alien ... you are right .. Obama is the lesser of two evils ... Obama or Biden ... Yes, for sure Obama is the lesser of the two evils ...

    August 20, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. maf

    @ Howard, Ferguson has already been rebuked for not providing both sides of the argument. For him to take Obama to task on his 2008 inauguration speech is to not pay attention to the absolute and constant opposition from the GOP every step of the way. Should there have been any concessions made by the Republicans in this past 3.5 years, the US would be in a much rosier position. As it is, Ferguson looks like just another Party of No shill!

    August 20, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. SueB

    Mitt Romney has refused to release tax returns prior to 2010. Since he knew full well that he would be running for President one can only assume he got his financial house in political order. This issue is pertinent because much of what Romney/Ryan want to do is provide a windfall to the top 1% of the country; Romney’s tax category. If a candidate is going to champion a policy that is so clearly self-serving, he or she has the obligation to lay all the cards on the table so we can get a full understanding of its implications. This isn’t personal it is imperative

    August 20, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Como

    CNN lets have some real news. How about the Politico.com ebook coming out about how Obama personally dislikes, deeply, Romney. It also details how Obama approves of the personal attacks his campaign and his surrogates, IE PACs, are making upon Romney and Ryan. What a nice guy our President is. Going to censor this comment to CNN?

    August 20, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Who is this Romney guy who got caught cheating on his MA taxes, put $100 million in an IRA, has foreign accounts that may not have been disclosed on his taxes, shipped MA government jobs to India, erased the hard drives while he was governor, shredded the records of who got money from the $1.2 billion tax payer bailout of the Salt Lake Olympics, and pays a rate of taxes less than half what I pay?

    August 20, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Thomas Guerra

    Oh stop already with the "leftist media" baloney. Most media is pretty much dead-center and has to be that way to succeed. Just because what's in the headlights looks ugly doesn't mean there's something wrong with the light. That clown show called the Republican primaries wouldn't have looked good under any light (... and it obviously did not succeed in a proper vetting as Romney is pretty much DOA.)
    You like right wing media? Just try placing a comment on a Fox News article. Verboten. Not allowed. ... and that's just a taste of what the "modern" Republican party wants for us. That's their bold vision: listen & shut up... or else.
    Fox ran an article a month ago pointing out that the wealthiest now pay twice as much in taxes as they did in 1980. Sounds like a good argument against having them pay any more, right? Well, what they failed to mention was that in the same time span they quadrupled their income. No comments allowed, so six-pack joe just eats it up and is none-the-wiser... and goes on to vote for the guy who's paid to deliver votes to the wealthiest so they can continue to legally embezzle our country's wealth.
    Romney and Ryan want to increase our taxes while relieving the wealthiest to the tune of $250,000 per year. These are his friends and himself he's giving our money to. It's not leftist to ask to see his tax returns to see what else he's been helping himself to for the past 20 years, it's just plain prudent. I think those tax returns will clearly show that Romney's expertise is not improving the economy, just his own at our economy's expense.

    August 20, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Do the right wingnuts know that when Bush lost 8 million jobs in his last three years, that unemployment was edging up?

    August 20, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. RLZ

    Tax Fraud, Bank Fraud and Money Laundering were then and are now felonies with serious jail time. If he participated in the IRS 2009 Felon's Amnesty program, he had to re-state every tax return for the years during which he and Annie were perpetrating the fraud. So if he releases them they will specifically show that the amended return was generated by participation in the tax felon amnesty program.

    An amnesty of any type is a stipulation that you are not contesting the charge or violation of codified issues. At this point as was posted on another site the IRS has gotten their pound of flesh, they "got their man" so to speak.

    They no longer have a dog in the fight. Over 70% of all American's polled in all polls combined and weighted, they feel he is hiding something.

    Call me crazy, but no national political campaign would intentionally leave an open wound like this festering, unless the cure could kill the patient. I am reading all of these posts justifying his denial and proclaiming that "Romney is focusing on the Issues and not personal attacks"....REALLY?? GO TELL THAT TO UNCLE NEWTSIE, RICK S'TORUM, AND THE REST OF THE KLOWNKAPADES..., they had 6 months of MITT MEGA MONEY launching personal attacks augmented with flat out lies about his own record....

    So now we're supposed to believe that he's driven by his piety and moral-maxiness, so heck..no need to see anything, after all he has never been caught lying about the key issue he is being attacked on..., when it comes to his tax returns and a political campaign...oh wait..sorry..silly me.

    August 20, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. v_mag

    Before Romney starts re-writing the tax code to give a heaping helping of welfare to himself and his friends, we want to see what HIS taxes look like. Rob-money is hiding something, or lots of things, in those tax returns. The only reason he doesn't release them is that the would kill his chances of being elected. There can be no other reason.

    August 20, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. cali girl

    Many companies have a background check. It includes things like the last 7 years of residence. Give your driver's license number so they can run DMV records. Also will run a credit check on you.
    You must be in favor of the voter ID laws then.
    There are tons of first time voters, in the range of 18 and above, for no reason of their own, don't drive because they have no car. When they go to school they get a school id.
    Seniors, once they have established a Social Security card, they do not need to do anything except apply for benefits once they retire. And some of them do not drive, in sense do not need a license, which needs to be renewed every few years. Reports say this voter id repression may give up to 750,000 a problem in voting. Nothing is against the law to vote except for some GOPer trying to dissuade voters as much as they can. And they know it hits the poorest of people (seniors and students).

    August 20, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Maxx

    Romney took advantage of the amnesty program for tax evaders with Swiss bank accounts, that's why he's not showing his tax returns. Why one earth would a U.S. citizen open a Swiss bank account if not to avoid taxes (hedging against the American dollar doesn't count, that's not how you would do it)? I can see why 1%'ers would vote for Romney, anyone else is getting duped.

    August 20, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. 2CENTJOE

    NOVEMBER2012: Your comment is silly. Obama has released 12 years of tax returns. He has also provided his birth records after the racist birther movement. What more data do you want from him? All we are asking is for Rommey to provide a total of 5 years...thats it....its kinda silly he (Rommey) is hiding them when his own father released more. Something is off here...

    August 20, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. MTATL67

    The issue really is not his taxes. The issue is that he is refusing to adhere to the demands of the American people and that speaks to the type of President he would be and it is not a good one. It tells me that he would be dismissive and ignore those that do not agree with him. It tells me that he would be a president for his party not the people.

    August 20, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. jerrylax

    @ 2centjoe... the certificate obama posted to his web site can be obtained by any resident of Hawaii...irregardless of where they were born...it means nothing...and why is it always racist to call this disaster of a president on the carpet? Again...obama needs to cite a legal reason Mitt should present more tax returns...like fraud or tax evasion...you know about that tax evasion Geitner style. This is just a campaign diversion by obama....and only the ignorant will fall for it....

    August 20, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Mike

    He can at least release more tax returns since this guy was pressured to hell to release another birth certificate. I mean ... the first proof of birth in the US wasn't enough. No ... he had a scheme as an embryo to run for president.

    August 20, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Ed R

    Anything other than addressing the needs and plans for the nation is 'personal'. Obama is acting like a teenage bully who says with wide-eyed wonder: "Who me?" after rabbit-punching some kid.

    August 20, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. FLIndependent

    Romney's refusal to show numerous years of tax returns is a slap in the face to all of us! Just who does he think he is that he can get away with what is a basic requirement for the Presidency and especially since his own father set the precedent. I believe the Obama campaign has challenged him to produce 5 years because they know there is something in those years that will destroy Romney – perhaps he took the amnesty granted in 2009 for those who had illegally stashed funds off shore.

    August 20, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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