President Obama’s reelection campaign on Sunday accused Mitt Romney of tax-related hypocrisies in his vice presidential search and his eventual selection of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan.
Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, is known for conservative budget proposals that include lower tax rates—including the elimination of taxes on capital gains on investments.
Almost all of Romney’s income comes from capital gains, according to the 2010 tax return and 2011 estimate he released in January, which means he would pay very little taxes under his new running mate’s plan.
The National Review noted Saturday that Romney criticized former GOP rival Newt Gingrich during a debate in January for a tax plan that also would eliminate the capital gains tax.
“Under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,” Romney told Gingrich. He added during the debate that he was “proud of the fact that [he] pay[s] a lot of taxes” under the current system.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Obama adviser David Axelrod said Ryan’s plan would help people like Romney but not the middle class.
“Governor Romney would pay less than 1 percent on his taxes. We know that he paid 13.9 percent” under the existing tax system, Axelrod said. “How is that going to strengthen our country, strengthen the economy, help the middle class?”
On the same program, Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on Ryan’s budget committee, said that “in picking Paul Ryan, what Mitt Romney has done is pick somebody who has an economic plan and a budget plan that is great for people just like Mitt Romney. It’s great if you’re very wealthy in this country because it provides you additional tax breaks, but it does so at the expense of everyone and everything else.”
The Obama campaign also seized on former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s statement Sunday that he provided “several years” of tax returns to the Romney campaign while being vetted as a potential running mate. Interviewing Pawlenty on ABC’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked if “several years” meant more than two, the number of years Romney has agreed to release to the public.
“Well, we don’t get into the details of the vetting process,” Pawlenty replied. “I gave him a bunch of tax returns.”
When he was being considered as a possible vice presidential pick four years ago, Romney gave John McCain’s campaign 23 years of tax returns. He has received steady criticism, including from some in his party, for only releasing his 2011 returns and an estimate on his 2012 in his run for the presidency.