WASHINGTON -- It turns out House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agree on at least one thing: they don't want to release their tax returns.
Both party leaders were asked, in light of Mitt Romney facing increasing pressure to release more of his tax returns, whether they think members of Congress should be held to the same standard as presidential candidates.
"I've never released my tax returns. That's my private business just like it's your own private business," Boehner told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked why members of Congress shouldn't have to follow the same rules as people running for president, Boehner demurred. He said what's important is that Democrats are keeping alive the issue of Romney's tax returns for purely political reasons.
"It's a sideshow. That's all it is," he said. "The American people are asking questions, 'Where are the jobs?' They're not asking, 'Where are the tax returns?'"
Pelosi, who is among those who have been calling on Romney to release more of his tax returns, turned the tables on the press when asked if she should do the same.
"Some people think the same standard should be held of the ownership of the news media in the country ... What do you think about that?" she asked.
Pelosi said at issue is the fact that it is "custom" for presidential candidates to release their tax returns. "Why wouldn't you? It's a relationship between the person running for president and the American people," she said. "If you release them, you tell a story. If you don't release them, you leave it up to the imagination of anybody who wants to talk about it."
Pressed on why she shouldn't have to apply those same rules to herself and other lawmakers, Pelosi reiterated that it is "a tradition" for presidential candidates, not members of Congress, and that the public expects to be able to see those records for anyone seeking a White House bid.
"When I run for the president of the United States, you can hold me to that standard," she said, adding that there aren't actually official requirements that anyone make their tax records public. "There are no rules. There's no rule about Romney releasing his tax returns."
Still, Pelosi added, the longer he goes without releasing his returns, the more suspicious he looks.
"The longer he takes to release them," she said, "it doesn't make me sad."
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