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Nancy Pelosi Downplays Tax Return Demand

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Facing questions about why she and other top Congressional officials won’t release their tax returns, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) downplayed her previous demands for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his, calling the issue a distraction.

As recently as Wednesday, Pelosi had strongly urged Romney to provide further disclosure of his tax returns. But today, while maintaining Romney should release more documents because of “custom” and “tradition,” Pelosi said the issue was trivial compared with economic issues.

“We spent too much time on that. We should be talking about middle-income tax cuts,” Pelosi said after answering two questions about the issue.

The Minority Leader faced questions about the issue after a McClatchy News report showed only 17 of 535 Members released their tax returns when asked.

Romney has faced increasing pressure to disclose more about his financial history in recent weeks, including — as Pelosi noted — from top Republicans.

The former Massachusetts governor has released his 2010 tax returns and has promised to release the 2011 returns when they are available.

Republicans say Romney will release the same amount of information that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did in 2008 when he ran for president. McCain, however, had filed decades of financial disclosure forms from his tenure in Congress leading up to his presidential bid.

Pelosi also suggested that the media should face disclosure requirements.

“Some people think the same standard should be held to the ownership of the news media in the country who are writing these stories about all of this. What do you think of that?” she asked.

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