The Washington Post

Mitt Romney not being ‘straight’ about personal taxes or tax plan for Americans, Democrats say

In the wake of Mitt Romney releasing his 2011 tax return Friday, Democrats on Sunday sought to use the renewed attention on the GOP nominee’s personal finances to pivot to an argument that the Republican presidential candidate hasn’t been clear enough about his tax plan for the American people.

“The bigger issue isn't that he isn't being straight about his own taxes," Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos." “The bigger issue is that he isn't being straight about what he's going to do to everyone else's taxes.”

Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod. (Charles Dharapak /AP)

“He’s not been straight with the American people about his taxes,” echoed Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on “Fox News Sunday.” "He’s not been straight with the American people about what’s going to happen to their taxes.”

Romney’s campaign released his 2011 tax return Friday, which showed he paid a 14.1 percent effective tax rate. Romney could have paid less taxes, but he didn't maximize his charitable deductions, in order to stay in line with a previous statement that he paid at least 13 percent in taxes. Romney’s campaign also released his average annual tax rate between 1990 and 2009.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, speaking on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, dismissed Democratic criticism that Romney was not forthcoming enough with his personal tax disclosure.

“I think it's totally bogus. I mean, they've given away over 30 percent of their income to charity,” Priebus said.

But for Democrats, the focus appears to be less on Romney’s own taxes and more on an argument that he hasn’t been specific enough about what he plans to do to everyone else’s.

“Five trillion dollar tax cut Gov. Romney has proposed, no specifics on how he would pay for that tax cut,” Axelrod said.

Priebus defended Romney’s specificity, saying: “I'll tell you about specifics. First of all, Mitt Romney talks about -- all the time about reducing the GDP spending from 25 cents on the dollar down to 20, reducing small business taxes from 35 to 25, reducing income taxes across the board by 20 percent.”

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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