The political wrestling match over Mitt Romney’s tax returns intensified Sunday, with Republicans denouncing Senate majority leader Harry Reid for claiming to have inside information that Romney paid no taxes for a decade.
“I think he’s making things up,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told the Huffington Post last Tuesday that a former investor in Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, told him that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee paid no taxes for 10 years. Reid has stood by the accusation, saying in a statement Thursday that he “was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years.”
Reid has offered no proof to substantiate his claim and drew a sharp rebuke from Romney, who told him on Friday to “put up or shut up.”
“So Harry, who are your sources?” Romney said in North Las Vegas. “Let’s have Harry explain who that is.”
Romney asserted that he has “paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes” and called Reid’s charge a distraction from another flimsy jobs report, released Friday, which showed unemployment has risen slightly to 8.3 percent.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, on Sunday accused Reid of creating a “made-up issue.”
“As far as Harry Reid is concerned . . . I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Romney has already released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011; he has promised to release a complete 2011 return when it is finished but has said he will make public no additional tax documents after that. His campaign notes frequently that presidential candidates are not required to release any tax returns and that Romney has already exceeded his legal obligation.
But President Obama’s reelection campaign counters that most major party nominees release more than two years of tax returns and that Romney’s own father, George Romney, released a dozen when he sought the Republican nomination in 1968. The Obama campaign has questioned the motive behind Romney’s unwillingness to release earlier returns, speculating that he has something to hide.
On Sunday, Democrats placed the burden of proof not on Reid, to back up his charge, but on Romney, to disprove it.
“I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president [in 2008],” Debbie Wasserman Schultz chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on “This Week.”
“I don’t know who Harry was talking to,” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “The point here, though, Chris, is the Romney campaign and Governor Romney can resolve this in 10 seconds — they can release the tax returns.”
Fed stimulus wrong answer for economy, Romney says
Another round of monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve is not the way to expand the economy, Mitt Romney said in an interview that aired Sunday.
Instead, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “it is the time to create the incentives and the opportunities for entrepreneurs — businesses big and small — to hire more people, and that is going to happen. You are going to see that happen in this country but not under this president.”
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced no new stimulus action last week but said the Fed “will provide additional accommodation as needed” to spur economic growth. Twice since 2008 the Fed has engaged in quantitative easing, a practice in which the nation’s central bank creates new money to buy financial assets, such as US Treasury bonds, with the goal of driving down interest rates. Lower rates can make borrowing money easier for homeowners and businesses.
But quantitative easing can also promote inflation.
“I think the Fed’s first action in quantitative easing was effective, to a certain degree,” Romney said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s purchase of $1.75 trillion of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities between December 2008 and March 2010.
But he said the second round of easing, a $600 billion stimulus between November 2010 and June 2011, did not have the expected effect.
Romney said his economic recovery plan would create 12 million jobs during his first term, a declaration he made for the first time last week.
To achieve Romney’s goal, the economy would have to add an average of 250,000 jobs per month over four years. The economy added 163,000 jobs last month, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report published Friday.
Romney said his growth projection is realistic. “When you come out of the kind of recession we’ve had, you should see this kind of creation,’’ he said.