There is so much that’s awful in Mitt Romney’s secretly-videotaped 47% comments at a super-high-dollar fundraiser that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it. His obvious contempt for people who find themselves in need only scratches the surface, and many thousands of words have been written about what that tape reveals about who Mitt Romney really is and what he really believes.
But for all of that, here’s a point that I haven’t yet seen. Mitt Romney believes – or, at least, he says he believes – that his economic plan of lower tax rates across the board (i.e., a ginormous tax cut for the wealthiest), coupled with closing mystery loopholes that he refuses to identify, will help everybody, not just the rich. He said so again just yesterday:
“The question is who can help the poor and the middle class. I can! He can’t!” Mr. Romney said.
And yet, in the fundraiser video, here’s what Romney says (emphasis mine):
Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Take Romney at his word that, in this passage, he is talking only about how to win an election, and not about how he would govern. The assumption behind it is crystal clear: he thinks that someone who pays no federal income tax will have no interest in a campaign whose main goal is lower federal income tax rates for everyone.
But think about that for a second. Isn’t the whole point of the Romney tax cut plan supposed to be that lower taxes for everyone, including the very rich, means more jobs and economic opportunity for everybody? Isn’t that exactly what he said at the rally yesterday where he says that he can “help the poor and the middle class”? If that’s true, why wouldn’t a message of lowering taxes connect for everybody, including – indeed, perhaps especially – those who don’t pay federal income tax, maybe because they’re out of work or are in a job that doesn’t pay very much? Surely, it’s the folks at the bottom of the income scale who would most like to see a rising tide that lifts all boats.
There are only two possible answers to that question, as far as I can see. One, Romney doesn’t actually believe that lowering taxes across the board will help the poor and others who pay no federal income tax, and his whole campaign is a charade, a scheme to enrich him and his wealthy buddies at the expense of the rest of the country. Two, he does believe it, but he thinks that people who pay no federal income tax are too stupid, or too selfish, to see beyond their own tax returns and understand that even though their own tax bills may not be affected by Romney’s plan, their overall economic situation (along with that of the country) will be improved if Romney becomes president.
I don’t know which it is. Neither says anything good about Mitt Romney.