By Editorial, Chattanooga, TN—Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been blasted the past few days for his comments about what he called the “47 percent…who are dependent on government.”
Independent magazine Mother Jones published the comments, which were secretly recorded and can be viewed in full on the Mother Jones website. The comments were made at a private fundraiser for his campaign.
In the statement, Mitt said “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement.”
Romney went on to say, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince him they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Obviously, the Republican stance on the issue of welfare and taxes is typically that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and not expect help.
In Romney’s statement, this was the point he was trying to get across. This point can be debated all day and not reach a conclusion—it’s simply a difference in ideology.
However, the statement that he made goes way beyond that point. Romney essentially said that he is not worrying about almost half of the American people because they do not live the way he thinks they should.
A president should not discriminate against his people. Even if he thinks they are not helping themselves, this does not mean he should not care about them and listen to them as voters and constituents.
Another point Romney has failed to realize is that the people he is talking about—the 47 percent of people who are not paying taxes—those people are largely in Southern, Republican-voting states.
The Atlantic posted an interesting breakdown of the 47 percent Romney is talking about—read the full story here.
In the breakdown, they show that of the 47 percent that do not pay federal income taxes, two thirds still pay payroll taxes, and those left over are “almost all either (a) old and retired folks collecting Social Security or (b) households earning less that $20,000.”
Even more interestingly, the people who are not paying the taxes Romney is talking about live almost exclusively in the South and almost exclusively vote Republican. The states with the highest rates of non-payers are New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, according to the Atlantic.
Thus, the people Romney is saying he doesn’t care about—those are his voters. Those are his people. How can he say he doesn’t care about these people and then still expect them to vote for him?
Even more disturbing is his assertion that it is “not his job” to worry about 47 percent of America. Not his job. Last time we checked, it is the job of the president to worry about everyone. And its certainly not his job to ignore almost half the entire country.
Romney has not retracted his statements and is standing by them.
He is probably in a tough spot—he is trying to stay consistent with his conservative viewpoints—that people should provide for themselves. He has said before that the people he cares about are the middle class, and he is trying to stand by that. However, standing by a statement this ridiculous only makes him look like a fool.
Not only that, but who is this middle class he is talking about? If 47 percent of America is not paying federal income taxes, clearly, this group of Americans is much larger than any supposed “middle class.”
In fact, research has shown in the last few years that the middle class has steadily been shrinking, according to the Washington Post.
The economy has been so bad that the “middle class” has been consistently being laid off, dealing with pay cuts, and generally dropping into the very 47 percent he is talking about. Thus, the people he is trying to reach are the very people is “not worrying” about.
Romney can redeem himself—and he doesn’t have to completely change his ideology.
All he needs to do is acknowledge the fact that the 47 percent he commented on are actually his own voters, and come out with a statement saying that his statement was in error and he does truly care about the whole of the American people. He doesn’t have to promise welfare for all, but he should show that he is not ignoring the people who are in reality, voting for him.