September 2012 may give voice to yet another percentage of Americans — the 47 percent. That’s the amount Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote off in remarks to wealthy donors in May; a video of the remarks made without the candidate’s knowledge was released Monday by Mother Jones magazine.
Speaking at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Florida, 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. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Whew. It takes some doing to write off almost half the country. To do so dishonestly is part of a pattern Romney has adopted over the summer. A politician makes bold claims like this at his peril.
Such is where Romney finds his hopes for winning the White House this November — in peril.
There’s plenty to unpack here. We can start with Mitt’s math. According to the Tax Policy Center, 46.4 percent of U.S. households pay no income tax. Why is that? Several reasons, including because the non-income tax payer (a.) has a low-wage job that falls below the minimum (policies delivered by Republican and Democratic presidents over the past four decades); (b.) is a retiree no longer in the workforce; or (c.) is a disabled war veteran not ready to rejoin the workforce. Regardless, all workers are subject to federal payroll taxes, as well as a host of state and local government taxes.
It’s not very fair to dismiss this half of the country as non-productive leeches. Romney should keep his Ayn Randian fantasies of producers and takers to himself.