Mitt’s toast. I don’t think you can say there’s much of a path of victory for him after all of the gaffes, mistakes, and with the media turning against him. But the new Romney fundraiser videos bring us a gift – a stark example of what the entire Republican party (and FOX News) have been saying for months, or longer: that there’s a “taker” and and a “maker” class, and that people in the oft-cited 47% of non-federal-taxpayers are leaches sucking off the government teat, and that this is an explanation for why they vote Democratic.
This is not an isolated statement made only by Romney. This is a dearly-held belief of Republicans that explains, in their minds, what’s wrong with America. Never mind the facts – that 28% of that 47% pay a lot of other taxes including payroll, indicating that they are working and not “parasites”; that 10% are seniors; and that the rest, save 1% in the “other” category, are the 6.9% making under $20,000 and not exactly living high off the hog. (I imagine that in the 1% “other” category are the Mitt Romneys who don’t pay income tax because they don’t make income like the rest of us, instead living off of investments.)
Never mind also that Reagan and the Bushes added most of those tax breaks for the working and lower-to-middle-income classes trying to make their tax cuts for the wealthy more edible!
Some of those tax cuts for the poor were there to make the tax cuts for the rich more politically palatable. “Do you think we wanted to include a welfare payment to people who don’t pay taxes and call it a tax cut?” A top Bush administration official once asked me. “No. But that’s what we needed to do to get it done.”
But, just like the birther issue, and the more-overt Obama “taking away work requirements for welfare” ads, the 47%-don’t-pay-federal-taxes meme is a sop (read: dog whistle) to the base, who believe that all poor people deserve to be poor, because they just are too lazy to get themselves pulled up by their bootstraps. “47%” sounds way more impressive than “6.9% of the 47%,” which is the actual percentage of poor people making so little they often wipe out their tax burden with tax credits.
The reason being poor helps is because, with a combination of tax credits (like the earned income credit and the child credit) and deductions, many people earning under $20,000 a year can zero out their overall rate.
What I really want to know is, what percentage of Mitt’s fellow Republican politicians agree with him? Does Senator Brown think that the 47% of Obama/Warren supporters are leaches and parasites? Looking at the polls, it appears at least that many right now want to vote for Elizabeth Warren.
Brown is not an independent, as his voting record shows. But he plays one on TV. The media should be asking him this question ASAP: “Do you agree that 47% of the US is ‘dependent upon government…believe that they are victims…believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing’?”
Since this is a common Republican belief, I would hope Brown would answer honestly with a “why yes, I kinda do.” His rhetoric sure looks like he believes it.