Democrats again hammered away Wednesday at White House hopeful Mitt Romney's finances, pressing legislation that would require candidates for federal office to disclose all financial interests in offshore tax havens.
"We shouldn't have a political system where a candidate can claim to champion working people while that same person is secretly betting against America through tax avoidance and tax haven abuse," the Senate's number two Democrat Dick Durbin told the chamber.
Durbin helped introduce the Financial Disclosure to Reduce Tax Haven Abuse Act in March, which would require candidates and their spouses to file disclosures on any finances they hold in locations deemed tax havens by the US Treasury.
It's part of a broader, years-long push by lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Carl Levin, to crack down on tax-haven abuse.
But Durbin acknowledged his words were timed to the campaign uproar over multimillionaire Romney and recent reports that he squirreled away millions in offshore accounts, as well as the candidate's refusal to release more than just two years of tax returns.
"My research suggests Mitt Romney is the first presidential candidate in American history with a Swiss bank account," Durbin told reporters.
"And obviously this has been a topic, as well as his use of these tax havens and shelters," he added.
"He has also failed to disclose income tax returns to the same level of previous presidential candidates over the last 36 years. And it raises questions."
The senators said such abuse costs US taxpayers an estimated $100 billion a year in lost revenue.
"This disclosure is now appropriate, timely and necessary," Durbin said.
Levin noted that "when a crooked business or a shameless individual does not pay its fair share, the burden gets shifted to others, usually to ordinary taxpayers and working Americans."
President Barack Obama is locked in a heated campaign battle, and he and his team have seized on Romney's immense wealth as a way to portray the Republican as out of touch with everyday Americans.
Democrats are hitting Romney on his business record, particularly his time at the helm of Bain Capital, to argue that Romney presided over the private equity firm at a time when Bain-owned companies began shipping US jobs overseas.
Source: AFP American Edition