In The News
Romney taken out with trash for 47% remarks
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Labor Press
Posted September 18, 2012
Moral depth, humanity and economic savvy for all hardly go hand in glove with having, making and keeping tons of money. The world need look no further than Macao gambling king Sheldon Addison, libertarian extremist David Koch and now Mitt Romney.
His White House hopes rested on convincing the public he had the acumen to raise Americans up faster and more sustainably than Obama – that he could cure the partisan divide by working with all sides, not discard half the nation in his rush to impose his country club fantasies.
Out of his own mouth it would be hard to find someone dumber on “the vision thing.”
The real Romney revealed his thinking, inelegantly and off the cuff, but truthfully by his lights and inaccurately by all available economic data, condemning more Republicans than Democrats. While constantly accusing Obama of engaging in class warfare it was Romney who conducted class warfare raising money from rich backers in a Boca Raton mansion. His candor was surreptitiously taped.
His comments have now exploded, exposing not only his disdain for nearly half of America as moochers but also a misguided and outrageous interpretation of how tax revenue works. He may have been subtly trying to single out minorities and liberals as lazy but his remarks actually condemned the working whites he has relied on for votes, the elderly who worked all their lives paying payroll taxes and many citizens, nearly half in his figures, who use tax deductions promoted by both parties to balance their low income against their income tax burden.
In tying “real Americans” to those who pay federal income tax, by exaggerating Obama’s role in housing, health and nutrition, by condemning everyone who uses public policy to improve their circumstances, he was ironically debunking his richest supporters who have loopholed their way out of such payments – and he may be one himself, which his refusal to release his tax returns keeps us from knowing.
The majority of those who don’t pay taxes subsist in the deepest red southern states he counts on for votes. The majority using food stamps are white. Military families and the disabled are a huge part of his numbers. To condemn all these as lacking responsibility for their own lives forced even conservative commentators to note that Romney “simply doesn’t understand who Americans are and how America works.”
We are not exaggerating what Romney said to raise money. There was a lot of other silly stuff, but here are some in his own words, which he does not deny:
“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what….These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
He said so much more that Mother Jones magazine has now provided the entire video and it’s gone viral on YouTube.
If you don’t live in that hard-shell right-wing Romney bubble, you must wonder who he’s talking about. Demeaning 47% of Americans as pigs suckling on government largesse and slavish to Obama dismissed a vast number of American’s hardest workers and most active voters.
Romney’s view neglects figures that have been out there for years from nonpartisan researchers. He was attacking working families, grandma, kids in college. Here is how the facts break down about the 47% he was talking about, which factually do not match the nearly 49% in current polls preferring Obama:
61% of them work but don’t earn enough to owe income tax.
17% are students (who will pay plenty of income taxes once they’re out of school), military families, people with disabilities and people who have lost their jobs—including victims of outsourcers like you know who.
22 percent are elderly.
To further correct Romney, the people who fill out tax returns and don’t have to pay any income tax are actually 46% not 47%.
As the AFL-CIO quickly pointed out, the fact that they're not paid enough or are active duty military or are too old or disabled does not mean they don’t contribute to America’s tax revenues. In fact, the poorest one-fifth of US households pay a grinding 22.7% percent of their income in various federal, state and local taxes. In fact 82% of all Americans pay taxes.
Among the research sources that have for years taken apart Romney’s myth of the 47% dependent on government is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In an in-depth article with charts available at www.cbpp.org, the center debunks several fallacies that the right-wing depends on to promote this unicorn.
Even the Earned Income Tax Credit the right criticizes proves a temporary bridge to survival. The majority of households that receive the EITC get it for only one or two years at a time, such as when their income drops due to a layoff, and they pay federal income tax in most other years.
Romney revealed in private and off the cuff what he really thinks but knows better than to say in public. Worse, it is his own base that he demeans since in red states, many with those "right to work for less” laws, working residents are disproportionately likely to pay no income taxes. So are many major corporations sitting on billions in cash and also likely to pay no federal taxes -- but employ a lot to lawyers keeping them off IRS radar.
Obviously, Romney demonstrated strategic ineptitude in politics and “grossly inaccurate” descriptions of Obama’s core supporters, and those are words from fact checkers.
More bluntly, it was an attitude that undercuts his desire to lead the nation and openly disqualified him from the highest office. Even Republicans seem eager to ditch him when, as one said, “He just gave the president the votes of everyone who walks by my door.”
To describe half the country as victims reliant on government handouts, and then claim Obama relies on victims rather than self-reliance and isn’t working to raise businesses as well as working people, struck many as absurd looking at their own lives and varied philosophies. So Romney was “fiscally inept,” “arrogant,” “cynical” and “stupid” – and this was from conservatives! Several GOP leaders immediately began positioning themselves to run for president in 2016.
Meanwhile, Tea Party devotees are attacking his running mate, Paul Ryan, for reasons that might not please liberals, criticizing Ryan for abandoning his “take no prisoners” reputation of radical wrench to the American economy to tack back toward the Romney blandness.
Several commentators thought Romney’s campaign for president ended when he stepped clumsily into foreign policy with premature Mideast comments, attacking a low-level embassy official trying to quell outrage over a tasteless video snippet. Now they call these Boca Raton comments the end of his campaign – a clear revelation of how poorly he grasps America and its economy. It may be a bit early to close the books, but he sure is doing everything he can to slam himself shut.