This spring, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a fundraiser at a Florida home, and held a frank talk with big donors about how he viewed the country and the election. Unfortunately for Romney, that frank talk was caught on tape—and it’s a revealing look at what Romney thinks.
Mother Jones magazine posted videos from the fundraiser, in which Romney coldly dismisses half of the country’s voters as parasites:
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…my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Romney’s argument to these donors depends on an old right-wing talking point about how 47 percent of people don’t pay income taxes. It’s a misleading statistic, because the biggest tax impact on middle-class and working-class people comes from payroll taxes, which 82 percent of Americans pay—and those who don’t are almost entirely elderly, unemployed or trying to raise a family on very low income. And these people are also affected by state and local taxes like sales tax and property tax. (Of course, there’s also no truth whatsoever to the claim that people who are voting for Obama overlap totally with the “47 percent” Romney is talking about.)
But let’s get past the dishonest math here and get to the core of the problem. It’s really striking for a candidate who has argued against divisive rhetoric and the stoking of class envy to claim that 47 percent of Americans are unreachable “dependents” and only worthy of contempt.
Beyond the 47 percent he tosses aside as beneath his concern, Romney also manages to insult the voters he says he needs to reach: the “five to ten percent” who “look at voting one way or another depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
Working America has thousands of conversations every week with middle-class and working-class voters in their neighborhoods. We don’t see a lot of “victims” and “dependents” who don’t take “personal responsibility.” And we don’t see a lot of people who want to vote based purely on “emotion.” We see hard-working people who know what the issues that affect them are. We see people who are smarter than Romney and his donors seem to think.
It really does say a lot about what Romney sees when he looks at the country he’s hoping to lead.
As we’ve said before, Romney’s economic policies are premised on the idea that the economy is about the “sore winners”—the richest few who will see big tax cuts under Romney’s proposals. He has nothing to offer the middle class and doesn’t even seem to have a grasp on what the term means.
The notion that you have to be stupid or on the take from government to vote for Obama over Romney isn’t limited to Romney alone—it’s commonplace among his allies, like Gary Bauer and Rush Limbaugh, even though their claims are ludicrous.
Romney’s words to his donors also show the hollowness of his rhetoric about protecting Medicare and not raising taxes on the middle class. Time after time, analysis of Romney’s plans show he would end up demolishing Medicare and increasing taxes on millions of working families.
Romney thinks this election is about convincing “emotional” voters that the rich people in that closed room know what’s best for everyone. And his cynical, dishonest campaign is premised on lying to swing voters and trying to demoralize potential Obama voters through massive negative ad spending and voter suppression laws. It’s no way to try and run a country if you have any respect for its citizens.
Incidentally, this is a great opportunity to register to vote.