Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Romney: "My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
There is nothing "conservative" - or redeeming - about the statements Mitt Romney made at a private fundraiser in May.
Yesterday David Corn at Mother Jones posted Secret Video: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks About Obama Voters which includes recordings of statements Governor Romney made to donors who had paid $50,000 apiece to attend a private fundraiser. The recordings reveal that Romney accurately noted that 47% of the United States population does not pay federal income tax. He neglected to mention the fact that low income workers pay 13.3% of their salaries in social security and Medicare tax, which is slightly more than Romney claims to have paid in taxes over the past decade. Furthermore, I suspect that when we take into account state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes, the tax rate paid by the average poor person in America vastly exceeds the rate of taxes that Mitt Romney pays.
These material omissions are unfortunate, but even more regrettable is how Romney characterized the "47%" - particularly these two sentences: "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” These remarks are Romney's defining moment. Those two sentences will resound for the rest of the campaign and may follow Romney for the rest of his life.
The portion of the population Mitt Romney defamed is comprised mainly of retirees, young people, the disabled, the recently unemployed, and the working poor. None of these constitute people who do not take personal responsibility for their lives. My wife and I know. We were young and poor once.
In fact, Mr. Romney has it completely backwards. Mr. Romney's landscapers ("for Pete's sake") work harder than he does. A kid cooking fries at McDonald's has a harder job than a middle-aged hedge fund manager - and in light of who Romney's host was at this fundraiser, the kid probably makes a more positive contribution overall to society. Experienced professionals, managers, and other white-collar workers rightly earn more money than physical laborers and entry-level employees because of the skills they have developed. But it is the height of hypocrisy for someone as privileged and entitled as Mitt Romney to insult people who work their butts off and yet struggle financially.
The conservative movement has much to contribute to solving America's problems. Compassion must be balanced by fiscal soundness. But if conservatism becomes equated in the public mind with the kind of "class warfare" being waged by Mitt Romney, don't be surprised if the vast majority of Americans reject it altogether.