Does Brown Agree With Mitt?

I would like to know that too. Interestingly, Linda McMahon, the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, has rejected Romney's comments. Romney is in serious trouble over this; the question now seems to be how many other Republicans he will drag down with him. - promoted by david

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.


31 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Come to think on it

    The Republican obsession with affirmative action, in the abstract, and specifically and wrongfully accusing Elizabeth Warren of lying about her heritage to get her professor gig(s) (no matter how many facts come out to the contrary, a certain number of people are CERTAIN, CERTAIN she did) comes from the same place as the 47% meme.

    It’s about believing these people (the government-teat-suckers, the affirmative action receivers, the welfare recipients) are getting an unfair advantage over them (in this case, the mostly white conservative middle class).

    In studies about perceptions of fairness and how people react when something is unfair, it’s pretty clear dislike of unfairness is built into our DNA.

    So if someone is convinced someone else got something unfairly (welfare, help with college loans, a job) it elicits a pretty severe backlash. This explains the very disgusting and racist-appearing reactions of conservatives to Obama and Obama’s policies, to Brown supporters about Elizabeth Warren, AND this 47%-leaches idea.

    The problem is, is that the deck is stacked AGAINST the poor and minorities in so many ways…their schools are worse, and not well-funded enough…their circumstances are more difficult, living with hunger and on the raggedy edge…institutional racism and misogyny prevent many from getting even what is due them if the system was fair…minimum wages are artificially low…if anyone ought to be angry about unfairness, it’s the working class, the poor, and to a slightly lesser extent, the middle class, who are being worked against by some very very VERY powerful adversaries…the wealthy and the conglomerates who control so much of the economy now.

  2. Isn’t it about time for a little peek at our beloved Romney Hindenburg?

  3. Who are Dems versus Repubs anyway?

    I would like to remind everyone that educated people and professionals are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans, and these are the people who pay taxes. Scientists, journalists, lawyers, artists- all groups that poll 4-5: 1 as D versus R.
    The people who are not paying any taxes are heavily made up of Republicans. There is just no other way, since the Republican base is now heavily made up of working class white people.

    • right

      It’s hard to imagine a candidate trashing in this fashion a very big part of his own base. Unfortunately a lot of them don’t care so long as he hates gays and immigrants and is anti-choice… but we’ll see this time.

    • Cognitive dissonance

      A lot of those conservative, white and male Republicans in that 47% aren’t going to think Mitt’s talking about them as freeloaders. After all, they pay a lot of taxes… even if it’s not “income taxes” as defined by Mitt.

      I hope some of them will start to see just how much the elite leaders of the national republican party truly despises their very own base, many of whom are absolutely within that 47% figure (or once were), but I’m not going to hold my own breath.

      RyansTake   @   Tue 18 Sep 2:56 PM
      • What about seniors on Social Security?

        I have to think some of them will take exception to being written out of the national economic debate.

        • Easy

          Seniors don’t think of themselves as ‘takers’ because they feel as though they’ve “paid-in”, so they’re deserving. Even unemployed Republicans feel the same way. It doesn’t matter that they never bother to do any cost-accounting to see if the amount they’ve paid is more or less than the amount they’ve received – they excuse themselves nonetheless, and of course, ignoring any kind of prepayments anyone “other” than them who is getting help have made.

          • Also note

            that this was built into the design of Social Security by FDR himself, as an extremely effective defense against subsequent repeal.

            People take issue with transfer payments that they perceive to be unfair– welfare and unemployment are thus targets, while Social Security and Medicare are less so, at least overtly.

  4. I actually agree...

    …that there are those who are “makers” and those who are “takers”. I would, however, generally reverse who is who vis-a-vis what these guys are talking about!

  5. It no longer matters how much he agrees with Mitt

    he is a present day Republican. By their platform and the words of the present head of their party, he represents a blow to American aspirations. Not every one is born on 3rd base and can hit a home run from there. Scott Brown has had enough fundraisers with the exact same people as Mitt Romney including ones on Nantucket where I observed before who was showing up for Mr. Brown to raise money. He doesn’t just have a difference of opinion he is toxic to a positive direction for this country.

    • True dat!

      WE need to ask VOTERS…”Even if Brown isn’t quite as conservative as Mitch McConnell, he’ll still vote for him as majority leader. Do you want Republicans who think like this in charge??”

  6. Brown deenounced Mitt's comments ....

    a no brainier to any thinking person, but a signal that Brown is vulnerable and he knows it.

    • Link

      Just found it, but again, do we want the Romney Republicans in charge of the Senate?

      Maybe the question the media ought to ask is, “Will you vote for Mitch McConnell for the leader of the Senate if the Republicans gain the majority?”

    • He should be asked, again and again, about

      segments of that 47%. Brown is a Republican and accountable to the Republican world view that pervades DC, since he’s the one who would help put them in power.

      RyansTake   @   Tue 18 Sep 6:08 PM
    • Ok then Scott

      do you support the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan? That is the real question to be answered. It would be just implausible to believe he has never heard Mitt Romney express these sentiments on such a large segment of the population. Yet he has never distanced himself from this before as long as it was said behind doors. In short his recent pronouncement is a hollow statement. Also this Republican brand not only disgusts domestic audiences but what about the 3rd world and more developed countries that believe in a strong social safety net. These beliefs of Mitt Romney, erroneous as they are, have more far reaching consequences than just in this country. The world gets the same news at the same speed as we do.

      • I'd be interested to hear that as well

        Does he support the Romney-Ryan ticket?

        • The other reason he kisses off

          the 47% the also represent a source of cheap labor for this country. Mitt Romney believes the working poor are just some commodity to build wealth for the upper classes. Even with his 20% decrease in taxes, 20% of 0 is still 0. At the same time programs that maintain a livable life will be cut. So Mitt actually favors the working poor but only as an means to extract more wealth from others. He plays a zero sum game not a positive sum game.

    • Is Brown consistent?

      Most Republicans I know are well-versed in the “47%” logic, either saying stuff like “half of Americans don’t pay any taxes”, or at best, stating that “everyone should pay some taxes”.

      I don’t doubt for a minute that Scott Brown views the world as “makers and takers”. Has he been consistent in concealing this throughout all his rallies and fundraisers? If not, find his language and hang it around him like a wet suit.

  7. Missing The Point about the 47%

    Everybody is missing the point. Conservatives are sincerely concerned that such a large percentage of the population pays zero federal income taxes. I actually think that they have a point. It would take courage, but I think a democrat should say something like: If we want to have tax fairness, then there should be a minimum federal income tax. Absolutely every citizen should pay something to the federal government, even if it is only five dollars. That way, we all know that this government is really funded by all us together.

    • If they were so concerned...

      …why do they keep making sure that 47% grows? It’s the Bush tax cuts that pushed more people into the range of paying no federal income tax. Ezra Klein had a great piece outlining this in the Washington Post. He summed it up thusly in his twitter feed, compiled here for your convenience:

      Here’s the policy two-step behind Romney’s remarks. Rs have spent years cutting income taxes and increasing things like the Child tax Credit. This means fewer people pay income taxes. So whenever you hear a stat like “47% don’t pay income taxes,” remember: Reagan and Bush helped build that. These tax cuts for the poor were partly in order to make further tax cuts for the rich political palatable. But now that fewer people pay income taxes as a result of GOP policies, they’re being called lazy and dependent. And thus the GOP’s tax cuts are being used to make a case that the rich are overtaxed and that the less-rich are becoming dependent. Which thus leads to a policy agenda of tax cuts for the rich and cuts to social services for the non-rich.

      • I think it's a bit worse

        Remember, Republicans have long memories and even longer game plans. I think that we’re starting to see them revealing their hand right now. They cut taxes on everyone, from the rich to the middle class to the poor, because they knew they couldn’t just cut taxes on the rich. Then, as you say, they start to defund government programs for the poor and middle-class (not programs the rich, such as government subsidies and corporate tax credits, though) because “there is no money”. Then finally, they will try and raise taxes on the poor because “they’re not paying anything” while simultaneously trying to cut taxes on the wealthy because “we shouldn’t tax the job creators”.

    • unless you get rid of the

      earned income credit, this makes no sense. Think about it… instead of getting the EIC benefit from the government, many poor working people would have to pay instead. In many cases that would actually be a net difference of far more than $5.

    • We do: Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes

      These are supposed to be used to fund retirees, but members of both paties now claim that the money’s been borrowed and spent on normal government operations, and can’t be fully repaid. Well, actually only Republicans claim that directly. Democrats have a more nuanced story that ends up at the same place, slashing benefits so the borrowing won’t have to be fully repaid.

    • What problem are you trying to solve?

      You seem to have bought into the unsupported suggestion that those who don’t pay federal income tax don’t pay any other taxes and don’t feel like they contribute anything. Your suggestion is just another half-assed solution looking for a non-existent problem.

      If the problem is that we are not collecting enough taxes, making poor people pay $5 dollars isn’t going to do much. When candidates hold fundraisers, do you they invite millions of poor people? No, they go where the money is and invite rich people. That is also where the money is for more tax revenue.

      I know one thing for sure. To get real tax fairness, people like Romney should be paying a heck of a lot more than %13 on their income (and we only have his word that he payed that much). Fixing that fairness issue will do a lot more towards fixing our revenue problem than going after the poor.

      If the problem is there aren’t enough jobs to provide income to be taxed, then how does making everyone pay more help?

    • meh...

      onservatives are sincerely concerned that such a large percentage of the population pays zero federal income taxes. I actually think that they have a point.

      … they may have a point, but they part their hair in such a way as to obscure it.

      The very idea that everyone should pay something to the federales is the biggest of big government. If you think about it, in our decentralized form(s) of government, the federales ought to be the last to be paid and the first to zero and, therefore, such a large number of persons not paying federal income taxes might be indicative of the health of our decentralized system(s)

    • You can't ignore history and economics

      As has been stated before, many of the “47 %” are elderly, who paid taxes all their lives and now survive on Social Security, or active military, or students, or disabled. And many who don’t pay federal income tax do pay payroll taxes, state and local taxes, property taxes (directly or rolled into rent), and sales taxes.

      To the extent there are working poor with no (or negative) federal income tax liability, it’s because of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit. The fact is the EITC was first created by a Republican Congress in the Warren Harding years at the suggestion of Republican Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. (The same Andrew Mellon who thought a depression caused assets to return to their rightful owners. Since ordinary people who did a little better during boom years and maybe acquired some things, but had to sell them off to make money to eat in a depression. Billionaires like Mellon, who could weather the depression, where there to reclaim the assets at fire sale prices. No left-wing softie, that one.)

      The EITC was abolished in 1943 due to wartime revenue exigencies but reinstated by Republican President Ford. The “negative tax” idea was from Milton Friedman, who used to be the right’s favorite economist. Now I guess they think he pals aruond with socialists or something. It was significantly expanded in 1986 at the behest of Republican President (and icon) Ronald Reagan, who called it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” Because it made it pay to work, rather than apply for welfare.

      The Republican President George H.W. Bush then signed into law another expansion of the EITC in 1990. President Clinton expanded it yet again in 1993. In 1997 the Republican Congress created the Child Tax Credit, which works the same way but only for working poor people who have children. Then, in 2001, as part of his tax giveaway to the rich, Republican George W. Bush expanded EITC and the Child Tax Credit yet again. To be sure, an adviser said it was only done for political cover to win support for their real agenda, cutting taxes for high-income people. But Bush bragged in 2004 about how many people’s taxes he’d lowered. The programs were further expanded in the 2009 stimulus.

      It is hard to imagine an idea with a more Republican pedigree. But I can’t say I’m surprised at all a significant portion of the GOP now calls EITC beneficiaries freeloaders. Their long-term game has always been to keep moving the goalposts until we’re kicking our field goals back in 1890. And it hardly matters, for reasons explained by CentralMassDad, that many of that “47 %” live in deep red southern states and will vote for Romney.
      Economically, the bigger question is why, after 30 years of a Reagan-Bush-Romney/Ryan economy, so many people work their tails off and still don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes. The answer, as brilliantly shown here, is that all of the wealth created has gone to the top, while the people at the top have had their tax burden lowered significantly. I saw last night on MSNBC a graph showing that low-income people pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than do the wealthy.

      Believe me, nobody’s getting rich off of EITC refunds. And that money gets spent, having ripple effects throughout our consumption-based economy. The failure of our political economy to promote jobs that pay enough to support a family and pay income taxes is the real scandal here.

  8. Reading Sen Brown's statement

    it becomes clear that he is sanitizing his own view. His statement says people are on government programs because there are no jobs for them in the economy. This is a duplicitous statement. Most of the so called 47% do have jobs or worked all their life paying into Social Security and Medicare so they can some modicum of reasonable survival in their out years. Another group is the disabled or earners who do not make enough to sustain themselves. Medicaid biggest chunk goes to care of patients in nursing homes. So who in the world is Sen Brown talking about? He is trying to save face because he has heard these closed door comments before as a Romney supporter and from his own behing doors fundraisers. So either he is a Republican or he isn’t. His voting record and espoused rant against big government and willingness to cut Medicare and Medicaid says he is.

  9. Scott Brown gives new meaning to "welfare fraud"

    To distance himself from Romney, Scott Brown said the following:

    As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in. Too many people today who want to work are being forced into public assistance for lack of jobs.”

    If only it were true. Compare the Scott Brown of only three years ago, who couldn’t resist the opportunity to denigrate those trying to work their way off of public assistance.

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