Mitt Romney says he pays his income taxes regularly -- a lot every year -- in a rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has accused the Republican presidential challenger of trying to hide the truth.
Addressing the issue at a news conference in North Las Vegas, Nevada, yesterday, Romney suggested Reid may be doing the White House’s bidding in leading the attack.
“I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes -- a lot of taxes,” he said. “So Harry is simply wrong, and that’s why I’m so anxious for him to produce the names of the people who have put this forward. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign.”
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a speech two days ago that Romney hadn’t paid taxes for 10 years and should release previous years’ tax returns. He later repeated the charges in a statement released by his office, accusing Romney of “hiding something.”
Romney, 65, challenged Reid to say where his information is coming from. “Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” he said. “Harry, who are your sources?”
Romney has released one year of personal income tax returns, from 2010, showing that he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on investment income that year. He has promised to release his 2011 returns when accountants are finished with them, and has rejected calls by Democrats and some within his own party to disclose more of his tax returns.
Romney said Reid and other Democrats are making the tax allegation to “deflect the fact that jobs numbers are bad, that Americans are out of work, and you are trying to throw anything up on the screen that will grab attention away from the fact that the policies of the White House haven’t worked to put Americans back to work.”
Romney said he doesn’t want to provide additional tax returns beyond 2010 and 2011 because Democrats would “distort it.”
Presidential candidates have been inconsistent in the number of returns they have made public. Ronald Reagan made seven years available; George H.W. Bush released three years; and Romney’s father, George, made 12 years of returns public when he ran for president in 1968.
Asked whether he thinks the U.S. economy is heading into another recession, Romney demurred.
“The economists will tell us what the future holds,” he said. “I certainly hope not.”
Romney declined to say whether he thought a call for the Federal Reserve to be audited should be part of the party policy platform at this month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, as some supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas have suggested.
“I have indicated that my own view is that we should audit the Fed and that the actions of the Fed should be open for the review of Congress and the understanding of the American people,” he said.
Romney also challenged assertions by President Barack Obama’s campaign that his proposals would raise taxes on middle-class Americans.
“My tax policy will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans,” he said. “I will not raise taxes on the American people. I will not raise taxes on middle-income Americans.”
Obama’s campaign challenged that assertion in a statement after Romney’s news conference.
“A new, nonpartisan study shows Romney’s plan would raise taxes by an average of $2,000 on middle-class families with children in order to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted toward millionaires like himself,” Obama re-election spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.
A study released by the Brookings Institution in Washington this week said Romney’s plan would shift some burden from those with incomes exceeding $200,000 a year to those earning less.
Last night, Romney picked up the endorsement of actor Clint Eastwood, who announced his support at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho, according to the Associated Press.
“Now more than ever do we need Governor Romney,” Eastwood said, according to the AP. “I’m going to be voting for him.”
Romney is scheduled to campaign today in Evansville, Indiana, for Richard Mourdock, a U.S. Senate candidate backed by the anti-tax Tea Party movement. Mourdock, the Indiana State Treasurer, defeated six-term incumbent Richard Lugar in a Republican primary in May.