Oh boy. If this were grade school Mitt Romney would have finished not just a “terrible, awful, no good, very bad day” but one that caps off a train wreck of a month.
While I’m sure the folks at the Daily Show and the Colbert Report love the material I think we are close to crossing the comedic self-destruction value line and may actually start to pity him.
After his campaign stumbled out of the convention with no real aim, went off on Libya for some reason (Why you would venture into a foreign policy offensive when your staunchest allies are stressing the economy is boggling?), and had the traces of infighting plastered over the front pages of all major news sources (Even Fox and WSJ contributors are calling for a campaign shakeup at this point.), you’d think the worst was over.
But then Mother Jones (thanks to local campaign researcher James Carter IV) broke the now infamous 47% video. In this video, from a private fundraiser, Mitt Romney claims that 47% of Americans are dependent on government and believe that government has the obligation to care for them and this means that they will vote for Obama no matter what. He writes off 47% of the American population as a lost cause and says that “My job is, is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
This quote gives us a glimpse we don’t normally get of Romney and is eye-opening.
He then goes on to insult the Palestinians and lays out his foreign policy proposal for the Middle-East as literally “at best we can kick the can down the road a few more years” before closing by both stating that the Latino vote is dangerous for America because it’s becoming increasingly Democratic (he believes Latinos are the problem, not Republican anti-Latino policies) and then patronizingly says how it would be easier to get elected if he were considered Latino.
Conservative strategists and columnists all took issue with comments ranging from stupid to arrogant. Peggy Noonan, who worked for Ronald Reagan, and who writes for the Wall Street Journal urged “an intervention”.
By week’s end, Republican candidates’ across the country in Senate and House races had to take sides with many simply walking away from the Romney comments. National Co-Chair Tim Pawlenty quietly left the campaign for another job. The wagon circling has become a circular inward firing squad.
But some in the Republican Tea Party base and many Right Wing Talk show hosts are at the other end egging Romney on and not just urging but demanding he double down on his comments. It’s important that folks know the actual facts about the 47% that includes people like my mother, Mitt Romney’s dad, and countless other members of our families and friends we know and love.
I want to break down Mitt’s accusation that 47% of Americans pay no income tax and therefore will vote for Obama first. What is true is that 46-47% of Americans currently pay no income tax. What’s important then is to look at who constitutes this 47% which “will vote for the president no matter what”.
About half of this group does pay payroll taxes. That means they work, they just earn too little to qualify for paying income tax (or as John Stewart put it people “are working, just not working hard enough” to make Mitt happy).
People who are out of work and searching obviously have no income to tax, so they fall into the 47%, whether Republican or Democrat. There are also other taxes such as ad valorem taxes and sales taxes which are paid by these people, even though they pay no income tax. 18% of these people are seniors who receive social security and Medicare (it should be noted that seniors voted for the Republican McCain by over 65% in 2008).
Another chunk of these free loaders are soldiers serving combat duty. 1% are millionaires who have been able to structure their income to avoid paying taxes and I’m willing to bet all those folks aren’t sporting Obama bumper stickers on their yachts.
The “moocher” class Romney demonizes is not at all as monolithically voting Democratic nor a bunch of self-proclaimed victims looking for guaranteed handouts. It is very, very hard to pay no taxes at all, and proportionally, most of the people who come close to a zero balance on tax are from the wealthiest strata of America.
I’m not saying there aren’t people out there who don’t abuse the system. Look long enough and you’ll find a bad apple in any bushel. What I am saying is that lumping all of these people into one category and saying “there’s my problem” isn’t just bad politics, it’s dangerous.
Romney’s comments showed a disregard for the issues facing everyday Americans, especially in the states he is likely to carry! Many of the states with high non-payer rates are in fact Red states. States like Mississippi have a lower median income, and more people living in poverty, but vote Republican. But it’s not Mitt Romney’s job to worry about those people apparently.
The most scary thing about this video isn’t the claim, or the other politically damaging remarks he made but how sincere he was when giving this speech in his natural environment, with his peers the super wealthy, with people he actually does connect with and how pessimistic the real Romney is about America and cynical he is about Americans.
Whether it’s Jack Kennedy or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or, dare I say it, George W. Bush, Americans have always looked for optimism from their President. Romney’s own version of class warfare and pessimism about the Americans he wants to represent simply has no place on that list of leaders.