Romney says no to Obama tax deal

2012-08-17 22:16
AP

AP

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Washington - President Barack Obama's campaign on Friday offered Republican challenger Mitt Romney a deal: If he releases five years of tax returns, Obama's team won't criticize him for not releasing any more.

The answer came quickly: No.

The multimillionaire Romney has been under pressure to show how much he pays in taxes as economic issues - and the growing gap in the US between the rich and poor - dominate a tight race toward the November election.

Releasing several years of tax returns has become a standard in recent presidential elections, but Romney has said his critics would distort the tax information and use it against him.

Campaign manager Jim Messina made the offer to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades in a letter Friday. Messina said he is taking the step because Romney "apparently fears the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide."

The Romney campaign rejected the offer.

"It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Gov. Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters," said Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades.

Led by Obama, the Democrats are also going after Romney for seeking to protect tax cuts for the wealthy, with hopes of luring pivotal support from middle-class voters.

Romney released his 2010 taxes and plans to release his 2011 returns. Messina said he wants Romney to provide three more years of returns.

Obama's campaign has questioned whether there are years when Romney paid no taxes. Romney said Thursday he has paid at least 13% of his income in federal taxes every year for the past decade.

On average, middle-income families, those making from $50 000 to $75 000 a year, pay 12.8% of their income in federal taxes, according to the nonpartisan joint committee on taxation.

In 2010 and 2011, Romney made about $21m a year.

Romney is able to keep his tax rate low because most of his income is from investments, which are generally taxed at a lower rate than wages. That type of legal tax figuring is something Obama has proposed changing.

Romney's stance is markedly different from that of his father, George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968.

Romney has said he is following the example of Republican Senator John McCain, who released two years' worth of returns in 2008 when running against Obama.

Separately, an independent Democratic group supporting Obama released a new ad Friday arguing that Romney would only pay 1% in taxes under a budget plan proposed by his new running mate, Paul Ryan.

The ad's tag line says: "Romney and Ryan. If they win, the middle class loses." It was airing in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Virginia, where voters don't reliably go for one political party or another.

On a low-profile campaign day for Obama and Romney, Ryan worked for votes in Virginia. Both campaigns see Virginia as a bellwether; Obama won the state in 2008, the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson to do so.

"This is a state that has it all, and this is a state that will determine it all," Ryan said.

- AP
Read more on:    barack obama  |  mitt romney  |  paul ryan  |  us  |  us elections 2012
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