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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

47 Problems

As so many know by now, a video has been leaked from a fundraiser for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. The fundraiser took place in May 2012, and featured a Q&A session with the candidate himself. One member of the dining audience asked Mr. Romney how he planned -- in terms of strategy -- to win in November. This was Mr. Romney's answer:

There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government is responsible for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what... These are people who pay no income tax... my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

I see a lot of problems with that answer. How many?

Well, I see 47.

The following list is based on my opinion and on facts I have read or heard.  I've read them in on-line news journals or actual, hold-in-your-hand print.  I've heard them on news broadcasts or on NPR from my car radio.  I am not embedding links to support each fact I recount because it'd just be too annoying to the eye.  If you want to double-check me, a simple Google search of "Mitt Romney 47 percent" will get you there.  The only place I do not recommend going for fact-checking is Fox News.  All I found on that website on this issue was opinion with which I happen to disagree.

  1. Detail. It is true that 47% (or pretty close thereto) of Americans pay no federal income tax. Mr. Romney categorizes all of those people as necessarily being entirely "dependent upon government," insinuating they pay no taxes whatsoever. In fact, most of that same 47% pays a host of other taxes, including federal payroll and excise taxes, as well as state and local taxes, like sales taxes, property taxes, and state income taxes in the states that impose them.
  2. Detail. Some of the 47% who pay no federal income tax are people who are so poor that they don't even meet the minimum threshold for federal taxable income or are otherwise entitled to deductions that erase any federal income tax liability they might otherwise have.
  3. Detail. Some of the 47% who pay no federal income tax are the elderly, whose only income is Social Security (and who rely on Medicare/Medicaid for their health care).
  4. Detail. Some of the 47% who pay no federal income tax are disabled military retirees who are receiving service-connected disability payments.
  5. Detail. The rest of the 47% who pay no federal income tax are millionaires. These millionaires are able to take enough deductions on their tax returns (often from investment losses) that they owe $0 to the federal government in income taxes. In 2011, approximately 7,000 millionaires made up this portion of the 47%.
  6. Message. Mr. Romney concludes that poor people will vote for Obama "no matter what," that they see themselves as "victims," that they take no "personal responsibility" and that they do not "care for their lives."
  7. Ronald Reagan. Former President Reagan championed legislation that ultimately resulted in the "earned income tax" credit. That credit allowed the poor to deduct from their federal income tax returns any income they earned from a job (and not through government programs). The idea was to spur low-to-moderate wage earners to enter the job force and reduce their dependency on the government. The result was that many more lower-income Americans had -- and continue to have -- no federal income tax obligation (but conversely, it is hoped, less dependency on government programs).
  8. Ronald Reagan. In 1987, 62% of Republicans agreed that it was the government's responsibility to help care for those who could not care for themselves.
  9. American Dream. Mr. Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention included the warm-and-fuzzy that America is "about dreams." I could have sworn he spent time telling us all that, just like he picked himself up from his (Hermes) bootstraps, he wants to bring the country "back" to the fundamentals that allow every American to do the same. To take responsibility, to care about their lives, and to leave their children in a better position. Or was I dreaming when he and every other person that took the stage at the RNC talked about how they triumphed over their humble beginnings to emerge victorious and, hurray, not poor?
  10. Message. Mr. Romney concludes that the elderly will vote for Obama "no matter what," that they see themselves as "victims," that they take no "personal responsibility" and that they do not "care for their lives."
  11. Seriously?
  12. Message. Mr. Romney concludes that disabled veterans will vote for Obama "no matter what," that they see themselves as "victims," that they take no "personal responsibility" and that they do not "care for their lives."
  13. Seriously?
  14. Message. Mr. Romney concludes that millionaires with investment losses will vote for Obama "no matter what," that they see themselves as "victims," that they take no "personal responsibility" and that they do not "care for their lives."
  15. HUH?? I thought Mr. Romney loved millionaires. In fact, I thought he wants millionaires to pay less taxes. Or at the very least, certainly not more.
  16. Double standard. Maybe Mr. Romney doesn't include these millionaires in his characterization of the 47% because only poor, old, or disabled people who don't pay taxes are the ones to write off.
  17. Double standard. 20% of Americans earn an average of $13,000 a year. Their effective tax rate (ie. accounting for all the various types of taxes they pay) is 17.4%.
  18. Double standard. Mr. Romney earns several multipliers more than $13,000 a year. For the 2 years he has released his tax returns, Mr. Romney had an effective tax rate of 14-15%.
  19. Double standard. Under VP candidate Paul Ryan's proposed budget, Mr. Romney would have an effective tax rate of less than 1%.
  20. Glass houses. Mr. Romney insinuates that the 47% of Americans who "pay no income tax" are somehow cheating the system.
  21. Glass houses. Mr. Romney has taken a lot of flak for the millions of dollars he has sheltered from American taxes in places like the Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accounts.
  22. Elections. Mr. Romney writes off 47% of the electorate as necessarily voting for Obama, leaving him to fight to win nearly all of the remaining 53% of voters.
  23. Elections. Plenty of people who pay federal income taxes (ie. the 53%) care about things other than whether they pay federal income taxes. Like health care and civil rights and foreign policy. Mr. Romney is banking on the fact that most of those federal income taxpayers agree with him on most of those issues. (They don't.)
  24. Elections. Worse, in terms of logic, is that Presidents aren't even elected by a popular vote. They're elected by an Electoral College. The President has to "win" a state to grab its electoral votes.
  25. Elections. The states with high numbers of citizens who pay no federal income taxes tend to go to Republicans. States like Texas and Georgia and most of the southern states in between.
  26. Elections. In fact, if history is any guide, Mr. Romney will win 95 electoral votes from the states with the "moochers." President Obama will win all of 5.
  27. Image. Mr. Romney's "47 percent" remarks were made at a fundraiser. The price for admission and dinner was $50,000 a plate.
  28. Image. The fundraiser was hosted at the Boca Raton home of Marc Leder, manager of private equity firm Sun Capital.
  29. Image. Bain Capital, Mr. Romney's old firm, was one of the first investors in Mr. Leder's Sun Capital.
  30. Image. Since 2008, 1 in 5 (for a total of 25) of the companies Sun Capital has acquired have ended up in bankruptcy.
  31. Image. One of those now-bankrupted companies is Friendly's. You know, the ice cream place. A federal agency accuses Mr. Leder and Sun Capital of forcing Friendly's into bankruptcy so as to avoid paying pensions to Friendly's workers.
  32. Image. One of Mr. Romney's most common refrains on the campaign trail is that he wants to cut taxes on the "job creators." That is code for people like Mr. Leder. Huh.
  33. Image. Mr. Leder likes to host parties. A lot. Usually not political fundraisers for guys who don't drink alcohol. Usually, Mr. Leder's parties are all-nighters that include his guests engaging in public sex acts.
  34. Image. Mr. Romney's "47 percent" comment condemns non-taxpaying Americans. His solution for fixing the economy, though, is to cut taxes.
  35. Tone. Obviously, Mr. Romney wasn't thinking of these nuances when he spoke. The tone of his comments indicates an obvious target for his condemnation: poor people.
  36. Tone. Of these poor people, he says it is not his "job" to "worry" about them.
  37. Tone. Three months before the May 2012 fundraiser, he said that he was "not concerned about the very poor" because they have the "safety net" of government entitlement programs.
  38. Tone. Mr. Romney wants to cut or limit government entitlement programs. Is his message, then, to hell with poor people?
  39. Tone. Paul Ryan has tried to clarify that the point Mr. Romney was trying to make with his "47 percent" comment was that too many people are dependent on the government.
  40. Tone. Perhaps -- indeed, probably -- there are too many people dependent (or too dependent) on the government. Fine. Why didn't Mr. Romney just say that? It's not hard to think or say. In fact, great if he had said it! Great if he had given an idea for how that bakes into his idea for (a) taking the White House and, more importantly, (b) improving the country. But he didn't say that. He didn't say any part of that.
  41. Strategy. He didn't say any part of that, in a question about how he thought he could win, at an event six months before the general election.
  42. Strategy. Six months before the general election, the best answer he had to (a) get fundraiser attendees to fork over more cash and, more importantly (b) win the election, was to dump on nearly half of the American populace. The half that, in his mind, is the poor half. Also known, apparently to him, as the wolf-crying victims, the irresponsible, and the careless. Who all the rich people like him and the guests at that expensive dinner have to support. 
  43. Strategy. And yet he cuts at President Obama for his "us versus them" mentality. Indeed, the Romney campaign has referred to President Obama as the "Divider-in-Chief."
  44. Strategy. He cuts at President Obama for not doing enough to create jobs more quickly, and then he derides the low-income earners for not having higher (and therefore, taxable) incomes from all those jobs he's identified as non-existent.
  45. Come On, Man. He writes off the value of millions of Americans, and then he tries to soften his tough exterior by talking about his and Ann's "unconditional love for their children."
  46. Come On, Man. He chides people for not being successful enough to contribute to the tax base, and then he defends his record at Bain by explaining that business requires taking risks, and sometimes those risks aren't successful.
  47. Come On, Man. He outright dismisses those who depend on the government for not doing enough to help themselves, and then he grovels at the feet of wealthy donors to contribute to his campaign.


  1. I'm not just tweeting this to my friends, I'm wall-papering my office with it (just as soon as the government gets here to help me.)

  2. Hush up, Shannan! You're not one of the lazy, entitled, dependent ones! YOU ARE A LAWYER WITH A TAXABLE INCOME. Now get out there and insult the janitor!

  3. I just called my 75-year old daddy and told him to get a job. Freeloader.