Though cries for Mitt Romney to release more tax returns went largely silent this past week, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, took up the call on Sunday.
Levin is currently working on legislation to require more detailed financial disclosures from presidential candidates. The legislation, according to his office, would require candidates to release 10 years of tax returns and disclose information that seems tailored to root out Romney's financial background, including the "location, value, and economic purpose of each offshore account" the candidate may have, and the "portion of the candidate’s capital gains income attributable to an investment of the candidate’s capital and the portion that is earned by managing other people’s money (i.e. carried interest income)." Romney has come under fire for paying a lower tax rate on the part of his income that comes from carried interest, which is subjected to a lower rate than other forms of income.
Though Levin wouldn't indicate whether he thought it should be mandatory for congressional candidates to make similar disclosures, he said that Romney should follow precedent.
"I think as to Governor Mitt Romney, the precedent is very clear. There is no such precedent as to members of congress, there is to presidential candidates," he said on C-SPAN's Newsmakers, adding that Romney should release the average number of returns that previous candidates have released, which would be eight or nine.
Levin, who is close to negotiations surrounding the pending budget cuts and expiring tax cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," also addressed a House vote scheduled this week to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts.
“Indeed, I think the battle next week may give people some discouragement, though I would hope it might encourage people,” he said. The GOP-backed measure, which would extend all Bush-era tax cuts, looks likely to ultimately be blocked by Democrats, who want to extend the tax cuts only on the first $250,000 of a person’s income.
Levin added that GOP resistance to raising taxes on the wealthy “doesn't bode well” for reaching a compromise. And if a compromise cannot be reached in time to prevent the government from running out of money, Levin said he’d be in favor of yet another stopgap funding measure to give Congress more time to negotiate.
“We can’t have another potential meltdown. We'd have to extend the CR and if it takes six months, that might be the wise thing to do,” he said, referring to the continuing resolution Congress passed last year to fund the government through Sept. 30.