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After the euphoria that followed Romney’s nomination of Paul Ryan as his running mate, two issues are now at the forefront of debate: Medicare and Romney’s tax record. Democrats are asserting that Romney has not paid taxes in a decade. The way the candidates manage these controversial issues could decide the election.
Democrats have made claims that Romney has been dishonest in how much he has really paid in taxes. On Aug. 2, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared on the Senate floor, “The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”
In his defense, Romney has said that he has paid at least 13% of his income in taxes each year during the last decade. But Romney has only made public his 2010 tax return and has stated his 2011 tax return will be released when they are ready. Romney said in a recent press conference, “I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that.”
Obama’s campaign has been taking advantage of the fact that Romney’s tax return records are not public and recently offered him a deal in which they promise to stop attacking him for this matter if he releases five years of tax return records. The offer came in a letter made by Jim Messina, campaign manager for Obama for America, after Romney released his statements.
He stated, “Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide,” and added, “So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: if the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more–neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign.”
Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, responded to Messina’s offer, stating “It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending.”
Another issue that has become controversial in this campaign is the future of Medicare. Romney, in a recent political rally, used a whiteboard to explain the difference between Mr Obama’s plans for Medicare and his own. He explained that Obama’s plans would lead to bankruptcy and that his plan’s would give solvency to Medicare. Both sides have said they want a serious debate about Medicare, an issue that has not been of similar importance in recent political campaigns.
Jim Messina immediately responded to Romney after he used the whiteboard through Twitter, “Next time Romney uses a whiteboard to explain his Medicare plan, he should probably use this one.” In his whiteboard picture Messina explains that Obama would not make cuts on Medicare benefits. On the contrary, he adds that Romney would give the insurance companies $150 billion.