President Barack Obama's campaign team Friday sought to pressure presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to release additional details of his taxes.
In a letter to his counterpart in the Romney campaign, Matt Rhoades, Obama For America campaign manager Jim Messina called for the Republican to release a total of five years of tax returns.
Romney has already released his tax returns for 2011 and an estimate of his taxes for 2012, but has so far refused to release any further documentation.
Romney's 2011 returns show that he paid 13.9 percent, largely because his earnings were taxed as capital gains at a far lower rate than other income.
Lingering questions about Romney's taxes, fueled in part by an assertion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that a well-connected source had told him that Romney paid no income taxes for 10 years, prompted Romney to say to reporters Thursday that he had has paid least 13 percent in federal taxes for the last decade.
Romney also noted that factoring in his charitable donations, his effective tax rate rises to "above 20 percent."
In his letter, Messina acknowledged Romney's stated reason for not releasing more taxes because, he asserts, no matter how many years of taxes he released that Democrats would demand more.
"I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: 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.
Messina, citing Romney's father George Romney, who as a presidential candidate released 12 years of tax returns, said that it was "surely not unreasonable" to request tax returns from 2007 to 2012.
"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."
Messina added, "To provide these five years, the Governor would have to release only three more sets of returns in addition to the 2010 return he has released and the 2011 return he has pledged to provide."
The Romney campaign swiftly declined Messina's offer, accusing the Democrats of trying to divert attention from more important issues of the campaign.
"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. "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."
He added, "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."
by RTT Staff Writer
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