The Romney Gaffes

The Romney Gaffes are real, severely conservative and grotequely self damaging. Just look at the map of the US above and what states harbor more of  the 47%” victims of total government dependency. Romney is insulting his Republican constituents from the Deep South primarily but the whole of America when he writes off 47% of the population as essentially government freeloaders.

They are not. TheTax Policy center is careful to point out that:
1)60% of the victims are working and paying payroll taxes as many try to make ends meet:
2)20% are elderly and their Social Security and Medicare income is tax free;
3)the remaining 20% are low income.
But all pay various state, gasoline, and other consumption taxes.

As GOP pundit David Brooks  notes:

In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years. This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.

There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.

But these are not the sensible arguments that Mitt Romney made at a fund-raiser earlier this year. Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

While the National Reviews’s Michael Walsh doubled down:

 This is Mitt’s time, this is his moment. As at the Battle of Gettysburg, neither side was really looking for this fight at this time and in this place, but here it is. And that means going all in.

Sure, Mitt might have phrased things more elegantly … But now he has a choice — to back away from the implication of his off-the-cuff remarks, and try to blame his sentiments on infelicity, or to embrace the stark dichotomy he laid out and go with it. This chance encounter should be the thing that forces Romney out of his crouch, away from his krack kadre of kampaign konsultants, and fleeing from his over-reliance on conventional wisdom and polls.

What he ought to do is step up and embrace the basic division in our nation, including the fact that nearly half the country pays no income taxes. Acknowledge it — and then explain why, morally, this is not a good thing. Why having no skin in the game while at the same time demanding a say in the proceedings at the federal level is fundamentally undemocratic. One need not embrace the Starship Troopers ethos of Robert A. Heinlein to understand that in a democracy, everyone should pay something — and that to confuse the issue of the (Progressive-era) 16th-amendment-sanctioned federal income taxes with Social Security (“payroll”) levies and state and local taxes is intellectually dishonest.

Mr. Walsh speaks of intellectual dishonesty while in the throes of committing the crime himself. He is saying that if you don’t pay Federal income tax, then you  have disqualified yourself from  the right to vote in Federal elections – be damned those 26.3% who are working and are paying Federal payroll taxes. And no credit for all of the 47% who are paying federal fuel taxes or federal excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, telephone service, air transportation or federal import and duties directly or indirectly on imported goods. Mr. Walsh not only ignores these tax payments, and the fact that Republican Presidents are primarily resposnible for excusing ever larger portions of income tax payments but also the fact that the poor’s total tax payments as  a percentage of income exceeds the tax burden of their  wealthy counterparts.

And here is George Bush speech writer David Frum:

Mitt Romney has just committed the worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”

More than one-fifth of Romney’s moocher 47% are elderly: people who pay no income taxes because their income takes the form of Social Security – many of those people are Republican voters (even if they don’t understand “dependency” to apply to them).

Among today’s elderly, the great majority will receive more in Medicare benefits than they ever paid in taxes – dependency again. You can do the math for yourself and your parents right here:

(Those who retired prior to 1967 received full Medicare benefits without ever paying into Medicare at all.)

And as Ezra Klein pointed out yesterday, more than 60% of the 47% pay payroll taxes. At 15.3%, the payroll tax rate represents a higher rate of tax than that paid by Mitt Romney himself.

My emphasis on David Frum’s remarks.

Finally TheWeek has the last word on “Is Mitt Romney right that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes?” A magazine on the right gets its fact-checking right.

The essential point is that in  Foreign Affairs with his Libya gaffe and new Israeli-Palestinian remarks, his tax evasions, and now the divisive “government moochers” remarks,  Mitt Romney has disqualified himself from being President. More broadly, the Republican Party not just for nominating Mitt but continuing with its relentless attacks on the other 47% while reserving huge useless trickle down tax cuts for the Wealthy and  committing the  doubly treasonous crimes of deliberate deficit raising with its Starve the Beast policy and its deliberate scuttling of all Obama’s efforts to revive the economy in order to cake walk to Presidential “its the  failed Obama economy, stupid” election victory. The Republicans need a true lesson in Democracy – so just say NO to obstructionist GOP Congressional and Senate candidates. NO to a party dedicated to power for the few by any means of  deception and duping possible. NO to a party  willing to commit treasonous acts in raising the deficit and sabotaging efforts to create jobs and revive the economy. The GOP has become the party of the “liberal elites” they so roundly condemn as they show themselves as uncaring, arrogant and supremely  contemptuous of nearly 1/2 of the nations population including their own Republican base.

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