Breaking: Romney is a Gaffe Prone Elitist
Well, the lamestream media has spoken and it seems like Mitt Romney’s goose is cooked after his latest gaffe. Even David Brooks, the vapid self-proclaimed dean of sensible centrists, was brutal in his condemnation. The scandal started when a secret video of Mitt speaking at fundraiser was released to the media. Speaking in front of friends he was a lot more candid than his normal milquetoasty self. He essentially said that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes and receive government benefits and they are going to vote for Obama because they rely on his fiscal largesse. It’s an old Republican talking point: people are gaming the system, living well off your hard work, and they are likely black.
People are outraged and I agree that this sentiment is outrageous. However, it’s not really a different argument than we have consistently heard from Republicans throughout this campaign. Remember when Mitt said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor”? Remember when Romney nominated Paul Ryan, a man who built his career on a budget that severely cut entitlements? In fact, what has Mitt Romney ever said that made it seem like he cared about anything besides money and advancing his own career?
The Republican message for four years has been that the debt is out of control and defense spending is sacrosanct. The subtext being that frivolous things like social services need to be drastically cut. If you don’t think that shows disdain for people who get government entitlements, then you aren’t thinking clearly. Of course Romney doesn’t hate everyone that gets government assistance, which includes people on Social Security, veterans, etc. It’s a dog whistle, this is the party of “get your government hands off my Medicare,” of “Welfare queens,” they don’t have a realistic view of what the government does. They envision people relaxing on their couch; they don’t envision the grim realities that drive many folks to rely on the shriveling social safety net.
It’s a cheap shot to even note that Mitt presided over a law that provided free health insurance to folks earning below 150% of the poverty line, during his time as governor of Massachusetts. Just in case you think Mitt Romney isn’t an elitist rich asshole, he’s apologized for passing this law every year during Mormon Yom Kippur.
The most ironic thing of this whole thing is that Romney denounces the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax. This is a man campaigning on a message of lower taxes. Romney’s just jealous; he paid an effective rate of 14% in 2011. He stored his money in the Caymans and Switzerland, but he hasn’t figured out the best tax loophole of all: being poor. Republicans don’t believe in low taxes, they believe in whatever is in their self-interest.
In fact, consider that more than 1/3 of all people who receive government benefits get Social Security, and that 44% of people who don’t pay income tax are exempted by elderly tax benefits. That would seem to indicate that the majority of people who receive entitlements and don’t pay taxes are older than 65, the only subset of voters that favored McCain over Obama in 2008.
The whole situation reminds me of when Obama said that rural folks cling to “guns and religion.” Both Obama and Romney were speaking to their base, and put things in a blunt way, but my guess is their statements reflect what they really believe. However, they aren’t the same. The people Obama defined were nebulous, Romney’s statement is surprising for its specificity. Obama’s platform didn’t target the people he described, Romney’s built a campaign on doing just that.
Romney’s comment will energize liberals, and, if David Brooks is any indication, turn off independents. Conservatives were already frothing at the mouth to beat Obama, and just in case any started wavering Drudge blared a headline linking to a Youtube clip of Obama saying he “actually believes in redistribution.” This link attempts to neutralize the discussion, by equating government entitlements to redistribution, which they kind of are. Though it’s worth noting that the rich benefit from government redistribution in the form of defense contracts, business contracts, and bailouts.
So Mitt Romney is a rich asshole, but what else is new? He believes that if you don’t make a lot of money, you’re a lazy freeloader. Remember when he argued that Israeli’s have much higher per capita incomes than Palestinians because of their work ethic? He’s not someone who has a realistic view of what makes people successful or not. He’s rich so he’s good, and you’re poor so you aren’t. He argues that if he were Mexican he’d have a better shot at the presidency, without considering the fact that a different grandfather would have led to different circumstances. Forget his outlandish statements, his logical abilities disqualify him from the presidency. Hopefully, Americans can finally see what theRepublican Party is all about, because Mitt put it about as simply as you can.
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