Offshore accounts hand Obama an easy hit in row over Romney's riches

President tries to move on from economy with call to end tax cuts

As President Barack Obama's re-election campaign pushes to cast Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, as a champagne candidate bent on protecting the rich, Mr Obama yesterday renewed his call on the US Congress to end Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier households while extending them for middle-class Americans.

The move, announced by Mr Obama in the White House, came as his campaign has stepped up pressure on Mr Romney to explain past holdings in overseas tax havens such as Switzerland and Bermuda.

Just days after the release of yet another round of disappointing employment numbers, the Obama campaign is straining to change the subject. It wants to drive home its claim that Mr Romney and his conservative allies want to favour the top earners at the expense of the middle class.

The White House also means to tar members of Mr Romney's party in the Congress in the same way. The tax cuts, first enacted on President George Bush's watch, are – for now – set to expire at the end of this year. The Republican leadership is expected to offer an opposing plan that would extend them for mid-income and high-income earners.

"Many members of the other party believe that prosperity comes from the top down. I disagree," President Obama said. Under his proposal, the tax cuts would be eliminated at year end for any household earning $250,000 or more. "It's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire," he said.

While supporters of Mr Obama will be glad to see him going on the offensive, the chances of agreement on any of the pending tax issues on Capitol Hill are less than remote between now and the election. If anything, the President's words will only deepen the sense of polarisation in Washington. Analysts complain that that gridlock and the lingering legislative uncertainty are retardants to recovery.

Money now colours the race at every level. It emerged yesterday that the president raised $71m for his campaign in June while Mr Romney raked in $106m. The personal tax affairs of Mr Romney continue meanwhile to stalk him, with new questions being raised both in the media and by the Obama camp about holdings he once held in overseas havens. These emerged when the candidate in January published his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011. Now Democrats are demanding he make public his returns going back more than two decades.

Among old holdings now under scrutiny are a bank account in Switzerland, investments in the Cayman Islands and a small company in Bermuda called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd that was transferred to Ann Romney when Mr Romney became Governor of Massachusetts in 2003.

While not accusing him directly of tax evasion, some Democrats are questioning why he would move his earnings overseas. "You either get a Swiss bank account to conceal what you are doing or you believe the Swiss franc is stronger than the American dollar," Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said.

Romney aides have called the attacks "unseemly and disgusting". But journalist and tax haven expert Nicholas Shaxson, who wrote an exposé about Mr Romney's overseas holdings in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine, said yesterday that it remains important for the authorities to determine once and for all if the way Mr Romney moved his money around in the past was "strictly legal or not".

"There is a question mark over that," he said. "It is the campaign mantra and Mitt Romney's mantra that it is completely legal and there's nothing wrong with it. That statement needs questioning further."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?