Taxes heat up US presidential campaign

The political campaigns of U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have sharpened their attacks against each other with heated discussions on taxes. Romney’s decision to limit disclosures about his personal wealth to his 2010 federal tax return and estimates for 2011 drew more fire from the Obama campaign on Sunday.

The Obama campaign, on Friday, had urged Romney to release five years of tax returns. The Romney campaign dismissed the proposal.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs defended the call and said it was a relevant issue.

“Look, Mitt Romney is a highly educated man and he has clearly made a decision that what is in those tax returns is far more damaging to him than to do what every presidential candidate has done which is show the American people your personal financesm,” he said.

Romney senior campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie responded by questioning why tax disclosures were not an issue during Obama’s first presidential race. “It was not an issue in 2008 because President Obama was not trying to distract from a four-year-long record of failed policies,” he said.

Obama released eight years of tax returns when running for office in 2008.

Meanwhile, Gillespie did indicate Romney would make public his 2011 tax return by mid-October.

He also suggested the Obama campaign was trying to avoid focusing on the big issues. “We want a serious campaign about real issues that are facing this country. It is time for that. We will win that debate and that is why they are trying to avoid that debate,” he said.

Earlier in the program, Gibbs dismissed criticism from Romney’s team about running a negative campaign. “The notion that we’re going to get lectured by Mitt Romney and his campaign about running a positive campaign, that’s a pill far too big to swallow,” he said.

On ABC’s ‘This Week,’ the debate turned to tax plans to help Americans and grow the U.S. economy.

Democrats have accused Romney of putting forth economic proposals that would mostly benefit the wealthy.

Campaign adviser Kevin Madden said Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, had a more broad-based plan. “This is a campaign that is very focused on the middle class. Governor Romney has made it very clear that what he is doing is putting forth an economic vision, an economic plan along with Congressman Ryan, that is focusing on the middle class so that we have more jobs and more take-home pay and, that is the focus,” he said.

Obama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter disagreed. “I find that statement slightly incredulous because the tax plan that is on the table, even if Congressman Ryan is now agreeing with Mitt Romney on his tax plan, is a five trillion dollar tax cut, mostly geared toward the wealthy,” she said.

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, will face Democratic President Obama in the November 6 election.


(Mitt Romney photo by Terence Burlij/PBS NewsHour via