Mitt Romney made the news for his declaration that he doesn’t care about the bottom half of America. Apparently they are poor because they do not take personal responsibility for their lives. He repeated the usual Conservative rubbish, that there is an enormous group of lazy dossers who treat the rest of society like servants. Never mind that he got his facts wrong. Never mind that he is supposed to be President of the whole country. Never mind he ignored the suffering and shame that the poor undergo. Romney revealed himself to be a heartless elitist who does not care about the problems of the weakest members of society. This will cost him the election.
Here’s what 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 . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Some facts. First of all while 47% of people do not pay federal income tax, they pay a host of other taxes. 60% of them pay payroll taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare. The next 20% are the elderly who do not pay income tax because they have retired from working. The last 20% are a mix of people almost all of whom earn under $20,000 a year. They are mostly students, the disabled and the unemployed. There are also 7,000 millionaires who paid no income tax, but I have a feeling Romney wasn’t speaking about them.
Romney ignores the very obvious fact that everyone pays sales tax. It’s practically impossible to avoid. Even the poorest people have paid a chunk of their income in sales tax. Many also pay property tax and other local and state tax. People also indirectly pay corporation tax and excise tax. They also probably pay more than the 13.9% Romney does (its possible he paid even less, but we can’t know unless he releases his tax returns). It’s extremely hypocritical for someone who pays very little tax to complain about people who pay more than him.
Romney seems to hold the absurd belief that Obama owns these voters. This is so daft I’m surprised someone could believe that and still think themselves qualified to be President. He seems to be suggesting that in effect Obama is paying these people a massive bribe in exchange for their votes. If Obama and the Democrats did own 47% of voters then surely they would never lose an election? This theory falls apart upon contact with some facts. Republicans had a 20 point lead over Democrats among seniors in the midterm elections; despite the fact seniors don’t pay income tax. Two thirds of the 100 counties most dependent on federal aid voted for McCain in 2008. 9 out of the 10 states with the lowest number of people paying income tax voted Republican. So much for being bought by Obama.
What struck me about his speech was that sheer disdain in his voice when he said the word entitled (14 seconds in). He sounds completely disgusted that poor people could possibly think they had a right to food and shelter. He must have never heard of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. Do those things only belong to the rich and powerful?
A final point on Romney’s remarks. He said the 47% believe they are victims, as though he didn’t believe this. Yes, old people, it’s fault you’re too old to work and pay taxes. The unemployed don’t pay income tax, but Romney and Republicans act as though this is solely Obama’s fault, that they actually are victims This is the same old blame-the-poor-for-being-poor nonsense.. Does he seriously think people choose to be poor? If so then he has no idea what it is like for the bottom half of Americans. He is an elitist who neither cares nor understands the epic tragedy that is grinding poverty.