Team Obama: Tax-return quid pro quo? Team Romney: Not likely.

Wow… Team Obama really wants those tax returns. Whether they believe there’s actually something really damning in them (which I highly doubt), or because they know that whatever’s in them they’ll be able to twist into more cheap, populist, class-warmongering appeals (which I highly suspect), they are really hankering for more fodder for their distraction machine.

This morning, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina published an open letter to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades in which he offered to pull back on the negative tax-related attacks if Romney would release more tax returns.

Dear Matt:

I am writing to ask again that the Governor release multiple years of tax returns, but also to make an offer that should address his concerns about the additional disclosures. Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide. 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. …

Messina went on in a, “really, I’m only being reasonable“-kind of tone, reminding Romney that he’d be following in his father’s tradition and that he’d only need to release three additional years to comply with the terms of the deal. Good grief, Team Obama — so how about those 13 million Americans who are unemployed, hmm?

Team Romney responded, pretty much telling the Obama camp to take their offer and stick it where the sun don’t shine:

Rhoades had this response to the offer: “Hey Jim, thanks for the note. 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.” He made no indication of taking up the offer, but added: “If Governor Romney’s tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days.”

But by all means, Team Obama — keep it up. The longer you harp on about tax returns while Romney has made it clear he’s not going to give an inch, the more ridiculous you look (the term “diminishing returns” springs to mind). No serious person thinks Mitt Romney has done anything nefarious or illegal, and if Mitt had offshore bank accounts or paid a low rate or whatever ‘unpatriotic’ activities you’re trying to accuse him of, it’s the fault of our convoluted and adverse-incentivizing tax code. Your desperation to avoid talking big-picture economics and spending is getting painfully transparent.