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Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Politics, Science & Technology | 9 comments

Memo to politicians: off-the-record is dead and buried

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the latest high profile politican to discover that there is no such thing as off-the-record when high quality recording devices fit in a pocket.

Earlier today, Mother Jones reported that Romney has expresed a frank disdain for people who support President Obama’s re-election bid. He did so at a fundraiser, assuming that everyone there was, you know, a supporter.

From the transcript, emphasis added:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that 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.

Mother Jones is a niche and liberal publication. If this story stayed there, the impact would be marginal.

But the story is moving into the mainstream news cycle. Here’s the BBC, noting that the Romney campaign has responded to the story but did not deny the authenticity of the video.

Romney’s comments are far more controversial — and potentially harmful — than Obama’s foot-in-mouth comments from April 2008, also made at a private fundraiser.

According to the Washington Post, Republicans have been claiming for some time that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. It’s a false claim. I’d go so far as to say it’s a pants-on-fire kind of false claim:

Let’s set aside the question of whether this is what Mitt Romney really believes deep down in his heart. Maybe this is what he thinks. Or maybe he just thought it was a good line to buck up jittery donors. What we can say is that the last part is wrong. There is no fair accounting in which 47 percent of Americans take no “personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

[…] That leaves 6.9 percent of households which are non-elderly and have incomes less than $20,000 per year and aren’t paying the payroll tax. These poorer households pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes. Perhaps Romney thinks that they should all pay more in federal taxes. It’s hard to say. But this is also a much smaller fraction of Americans.

But remember the campaign pledge back in August: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”


At some point, this disdain for truth has got to have consequences. But unless there is an overwhelming rejection of this campaign at the polls on November 6, we voters will be doomed to this modern political variant on “choose your own adventure” storybooks which is “made up facts will get you elected.”

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • ordinarysparrow

    we now know who ” you people are “

  • ShannonLeee

    Obama’s comment in 2008 showed that he didn’t understand poor religious people.
    Mitts comments showed that he is completely out of touch with almost half of the country and holds little respect for them.

    Obama did not understand
    Mitt does not respect.

    One problem is significantly greater than the other.

  • What is relevant is the facts behind the comments. In 2008, 38% of people didn’t pay income taxes. Seeing as how unemployment is way up and economy is way down since then, a 47% number doesn’t seem too unrealistic.

    Also, nearly half of households are receiving government benefits. In that report, it also states that only 67% of adults are employed. Some, of course, are intentionally “non-working” spouses (specifically in quotes because yes, stay-at-home parents work, it’s just a statistic in this case). But it still works out that the employed are funding the non-working through government programs.

    These are all valid discussion points. Is it really good that 50% of the people are receiving payments from the government? Is it really sustainable? Is it really good practice, or is it really causing dependency?

  • The_Ohioan

    The 67% is misleading because it is referring to the working age population. That includes the 20% of working age population that is retired, college students not working, stay at home parents, etc. The working age population included those unemployed in the recession that started in 2007. The percentage of employed would no doubt be much less now considering the number of people unemployed and retired since Sept. 2008. It would perhaps be closer to 50% of adults are employed and the other 50% are probably receiving payments from the government including SS Medicare and Medicaid along with unemployment compensation and food stamps. Some of the elderly double or triple or quadruple dip with SS, Medicare, AND food stamps and rental assistance.

    Is it good? Yes. Is it sustainable? No. Is it good practice? Yes. Is it causing dependency? Probably. What’s the alternative for the elderly and those unable to find full employment or only partial employment with minimum wages?

  • Willwright

    Here’s a good break-down of the 53% versus the 47%.

  • Willwright

    Here’s a good break-down of the 53% versus the 47%.

  • roro80

    Is it really good that 50% of the people are receiving payments from the government?

    In that it is better than those people starving, but overall, no. However, the problem with the Romney quote isn’t that he’s talking about the suffering of these people. He is calling them out — 47% of the population — as refusing to take responsibility and not “caring for their lives”. The global meltdown that led to this unemployment was not caused by the lower middle class or the impoverished. The fact that a single serious medical event in an uninsured family can spiral that family into poverty was not caused by the lower middle classes or the impoverished. The outsourcing of labor overseas was not caused by the lower middle classes or the impoverished. I think it’s pretty disingenuous for the extraordinarily wealthy to look at the statistics of poverty in this country, point to the poor, and tell them it’s because they won’t get off their butts and take responsibility. Bull.

  • All fair points, roro.

  • slamfu

    What Roro said.

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