The former private-equity executive Mitt Romney sought to quell a brewing firestorm earlier this year by releasing his competed tax return for 2010 and a projected estimate for 2011, reports The Wall Street Journal. On Monday President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said two years isn’t enough.
“I see no reason why he would give John McCain 23 years and the American public just two,” Mr. Messina said, referring to the tax returns Mr. Romney produced four years ago for the McCain campaign when he was being considered as the vice presidential pick. “Our message to Mitt is simple: If you don’t have anything to hide, release your taxes.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) attacked the Republican frontrunner for his secretive Swiss bank account, declaring that no presidential aspirant has ever had such an exotic financial portfolio, according to The Huff Post.
“I asked Warren Buffet in a meeting we had recently, ‘Have you ever had a Swiss bank account?’ He said, ‘No, there are plenty of good banks in the United States,'” Durbin said.
“So I started asking people: ‘Why do you have Swiss bank account?’ One, you believe the Swiss Franc is a stronger currency than the United States dollar. And that is apparently the decision the Romney family made during the Bush presidency. And secondly, you want to conceal something. You want to hide something.”
Durbin added: “Why would you have a Swiss bank account instead of one in the United States? I would like to … ask the press to really press some of these questions, the obvious questions. When is the last time a presidential candidate for the United States had a Swiss bank account? I think the answer is never.”
The Romney campaign responded to these latest attacks by accusing the president and his campaign of raising these issues to distract from the country’s fitful economic recovery.
“President Obama and his team are desperate to avoid talking about last Friday’s incredibly weak jobs report, which is why they create sideshows to distract people from what really matter,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Apparently, the only job the White House is interested in saving belongs to Obama. Everyone else will have to continue to suffer.”
Monday’s call, which featured campaign manager Jim Messina, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Durbin, started out with a defense of the Buffett rule, a plan named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett and designed to address income inequality.
The tax issue has become a thorny one for Mr. Romney. The former Massachusetts governor’s tax filing for 2010 showed he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9% on his income of nearly $22 million, far lower than the 25% tax rate paid by families that make $34,500 or more a year. Mr. Romney pays a lower rate in large part because he derives the bulk of his income from investments, which are taxed at 15%.
If Romney were to release 23 years of tax returns, it would constitute a historic amount of transparency on his part. Obama himself released eight years’ worth of tax returns during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Appearing at a presidential candidate forum with the Spanish-language station Univision, other Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said Romney’s call for having illegal immigrants return to their home countries is vastly inferior to the former House speaker’s plan to let some longtime immigrants stay in the United States.
“I think you have to live in worlds of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality,” Gingrich said.
To compare, Gingrich said, his approach to immigration includes “people who have been here for a long time, who are grandmothers and grandfathers, who have been paying their bills, they’ve been working. Now, for Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off she is going to self deport? This … is an Obama-level fantasy.”