At an impromptu press conference at the White House, Obama told reporters that as the debate over the deficit, debt and the tax code goes on, "I think people want to know that everybody has been playing by the same rules, including people who are seeking the highest office in the land. This is not an entitlement, being president of the United States. This is a privilege. And we've got to put ourselves before the American people to make our case."
Obama said he is not implying Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is expected to receive the GOP's presidential nomination this month, has done anything illegal.
"But the first disclosure, the one year of tax returns that he disclosed indicated that he used Swiss bank accounts, for example," Obama said. "Well, that may be perfectly legal, but I suspect if you ask the average American, do you have one and is that part of how you manage your tax obligations, they would say no. They would find that relevant information, particularly when we're going into a time where we know we're going to have to make tough choices both about spending and about taxes."
Obama said doing the bare minimum is not enough.
Romney, who has said he paid at least 13 percent in taxes each of the past 10 years, has released his 2010 tax returns and promised to release 2011 once they are completed -- he sought an extension -- but both he and his wife Ann have said they have no intention of releasing any further tax return data.
Obama noted when Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, ran for president, he released a decade's worth of returns because he said "any single year" might give a misleading picture.
"The American people have assumed that if you want to be president of the United States, that your life is an open book when it comes to things like your finances," Obama said. "I'm not asking him to disclose every detail of his medical records -- although we normally do that as well. You know? I mean, this isn't sort of overly personal here, guys. This is pretty standard stuff. I don't think we're being mean by asking him to do what every other presidential candidate has done -- right? It's what the American people expect."
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