This morning, two days after Ann Romney reconfirmed that her husband would not be releasing any additional tax returns, the Obama campaign extended an offer to Mitt Romney: Release five years of tax returns — less than half of what Mitt’s father George Romney released — and we will stop demanding more.
In an e-mail to the Romney campaign, campaign manager Jim Messina wrote:
This request for the release of five years, covering the complete returns for 2007-2012, is surely not unreasonable. Other Presidential candidates have released more, including the Governor’s father who provided 12 years of returns. In the Governor’s case, a five year release would appropriately span all the years that he has been a candidate for President. 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.
The Romney campaign, which has consistently ducked questions on Romney’s tax returns, quickly refused the offer and dismissed it as a distraction from the real issues.
“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,” Matt Rhoades, Romney’s campaign manager responded in a press release.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has claimed that Romney had not paid any taxes the past ten years. Reid’s claim, allegedly born out of a conversation with an unnamed Bain Capital investor, was roundly criticized on both sides of the aisle. Still, Reid has refused to name his source, and the Romney campaign has maintained its stance on not releasing further returns.
Yesterday, in his most detailed description of his tax history, Romney asserted that he has paid at least a 13 percent tax rate for each year of the past ten years. Romney’s verbal assurances, however, will not suffice.
Speaking on CNN earlier today, Obama for America Traveling Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Romney should “put your money where your mouth is,” and prove that he has not, in fact, paid less than 13 percent the past ten years.
As campaign manager Rhoades’ response has demonstrated, the Romney campaign is highly unlikely to negotiate with the Obama campaign on this matter. Even though 63 percent of the public — prominent Republicans included — believes that Romney should release additional tax returns, there are no indications that Romney will do so. Making a concession this late in the game could be perceived as a sign of weakness. This is one issue on which Romney will certainly do his best to offer a semblance of consistency, meaning that we likely won’t see his tax returns any time soon.