Romney says half of Americans are victims


Mitt Romney points fingers, but skips facts. Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA

I am writing this seven weeks to the day before the nation goes to the polls to decide between the incumbent and the challenger for the office of President of the United States. At this, the nth hour juncture in the campaign, Mitt Romney — the challenger — has made some of his greatest verbal stumbles. In his panic at his consistently low-position in the polls, could Romney have momentarily let his guard down and revealed just a little too much of his real agenda?

Romney alienates half of Americans

Romney’s remarks earlier this week were captured clandestinely at a fundraiser held at the private home of Marc Leder, the co-chief executive officer of Sun Capital Partners, Inc., in Boca Raton, Florida. There, Mr. Romney essentially said his campaign ignores nearly half of the voting populace.

Romney said:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent 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.”

Who are these ‘victims?’

Mr. Romney is quite correct in his assertion that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. However, just who are all these ‘victims?’ The graph below shows the latest numbers from the Tax Policy Center on just who is not paying income tax.

About 28 percent of Americans don’t earn enough to pay income tax, but do contribute payroll taxes to the system. These people actually help fund the largest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, rather than taking advantage of them, as Romney asserted.

That leaves another 18 percent or so who do not work or who make so little they don’t even have to pay payroll taxes. These are the elderly and the dirt poor.

WHO IS NOT PAYING INCOME TAX? — 28.3% contribute payroll taxes. 10.3% are elderly. 6.9% are non-elderly who earn less than $20,000. 1% other.

The irony is that Romney undoubtedly has supporters among that 47 percent. He was even wrong about that in his private pep-talk to the One Percent.

Will any of those non-taxpaying supporters change their position because of Romney’s insulting and insensitive (and just wrong) remarks? Again, I think it’s likely. perhaps not in a sufficient number to make a difference, but Romney’s comments certainly won’t win him any converts, either.

Politicizing tragedy

Romney’s remarks came right on the heels of a statement he made on September 11, following the murder of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Romney politicized the event by saying:

“It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

Except that Obama did not release a statement on the incident until the following day. Romney’s remarks were based on  State Department statement that came out before the attacks. Oops.

Romney’s remarks on the Libyan embassy attack were so indefensible that they were even criticized by commentators on Fox News. These are commentators who normally are not above doing their own back-flips to skew a story against the president and his party.

How can a candidate expect to be trusted when even a tragedy is seen as an opportunity to gain political leverage, and the facts be damned? It is more clear every day that Mr. Romney only cares about his own kind, the super-rich, and supporting their interests. The rest of us he sees as beneath the dignity of his radar. And that elitism is undoubtedly why he remains ever-trailing in the polls.


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