Republicans and Democrats battle over Harry Reid’s charge that Mitt Romney paid no taxes for 10 years

The political wrestling match over Mitt Romney’s tax returns intensified Sunday, with Republicans denouncing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for claiming to have inside information that Romney paid no taxes for a decade.

“I think he’s making things up,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told the Huffington Post last Tuesday that a former investor in Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, told him that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee paid no taxes for 10 years. Reid has stood by the accusation, saying in a statement Thursday that he “was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years.”

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Reid has offered no proof to substantiate his claim and drew a sharp rebuke from Romney, who told him on Friday to “put up or shut up.”

“So Harry, who are your sources?” Romney said in North Las Vegas. “Let’s have Harry explain who that is.”

Romney asserted that he has “paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes” and called Reid’s charge a distraction from another flimsy jobs report, released Friday, which showed unemployment has risen slightly to 8.3 percent.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, on Sunday accused Reid of creating a “made-up issue.”

“As far as Harry Reid is concerned ... I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Romney has already released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011; he has promised to release a complete 2011 return when it is finished but has said he will make public no additional tax documents after that. His campaign notes frequently that presidential candidates are not required to release any tax returns and that Romney has already exceeded his legal obligation.

But President Obama’s reelection campaign counters that most major party nominees release more than two years of tax returns and that Romney’s own father, George Romney, released a dozen when he sought the Republican nomination in 1968. The Obama campaign has questioned the motive behind Romney’s unwillingness to release earlier returns, speculating that he has something to hide.

On Sunday, Democrats placed the burden of proof not on Reid, to back up his charge, but on Romney, to disprove it.

“I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president [in 2008],” Debbie Wasserman Schultz chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on “This Week.”

“I don’t know who Harry was talking to,” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “The point here, though, Chris, is the Romney campaign and Governor Romney can resolve this in 10 seconds—they can release the tax returns.”

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