Daily Archives: September 18, 2012

Mario Piperni on Mitt’s Muff II

Thurston Howell Romney

September 18, 2012 By

I’m not a big fan of conservative writer David Brooks but kudos to him for nailing this one.

In 1980, about 30 percent of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49 percent do.

In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years. This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.

Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.

It’s important to note that Romney’s words (“My job is is not to worry about those people.”) could easily have been spoken by almost any member of the Republican Party. Their job, as they see it, is not to worry about the poor, the aged or an entire middle class. Their job is to create an environment where the rich get richer. Romney is simply the current front man for the right’s agenda.

Michael Tomasky:

In a way, it’s not even mostly Romney’s fault. It’s the fault of the party and movement that introduced and spread this toxic propaganda in the first place. When Romney is licking his wounds on Nov. 7, that party and movement will fire all its arrows at him. He’ll deserve a lot of them. But they will have buried him with the ignorance and rage they demanded he adopt. His chief crime will have been his weakness in failing to confront them.

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Humor: The Borowitz Report

In New Campaign Strategy, Romney to Have Mouth Wired Shut Until November

Posted by
 

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—In what his campaign described today as a bold strategy to insure victory in the Presidential contest, Republican nominee Mitt Romney will undergo a procedure to have his mouth wired shut until Tuesday, November 6th.

The decision reportedly was made in response to the release earlier in the day of rare video footage showing Mr. Romney saying what he really thinks.

In the video, Mr. Romney blasts the American people for being “insanely obsessed with food, clothing, and shelter,” and asserts that many of them are “too lazy to hide their money overseas.”

At another point in the video, Mr. Romney refers to his own hardscrabble childhood: “I was never handed anything in life. If I wanted to cut a gay kid’s hair off, I had to pin him to the ground myself.”

Romney campaign aides were upbeat about the mouth-wiring procedure today, with some saying they wished they had thought of it months ago.

When asked about the procedure at a campaign stop in Ohio, Mr. Romney said, “Mmmnff ffnn mmfff nnnnnff.”

 

Andy Borowitz will be doing a free show at Rutgers University on Monday, October 29th at 7 P.M. Register for tickets.

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Photograph by Lauren Lancaster.

Ezra Klein on Mitt’s Muff

 

Romney’s theory of the “taker class,” and why it matters

Posted by Ezra Klein on September 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

“My job is not to worry about those people,” Mitt Romney said of the 47 percent of Americans who are likely to vote for Barack Obama. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

There will be plenty said about the politics of Romney’s remarks. But I want to take a moment and talk about the larger argument behind them, because this vision of a society divided between “makers” and “takers” is core to the Republican nominee’s policy agenda.

In his comments, Romney says that “these are people who pay no income tax,” but they are people “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.”

In other words, Romney is arguing that about 47 percent of the country is a “taker class” that pays little or nothing into the federal government but wants to tax the productive classes for free health care, food, housing, etc.

Romney is not alone in this concern. “We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said when he began his presidential campaign. “We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society,” Rep. Paul Ryan said at the Heritage Foundation. “People who pay nothing can easily forget the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch,” warned Rep. Michelle Bachmann.

Tax Policy Center

For what it’s worth, this division of “makers” and “takers” isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly.

So 83 percent of those not paying federal income taxes are either working and paying payroll taxes or they’re elderly and Romney is promising to protect their benefits because they’ve earned them. The remainder, by and large, aren’t paying federal income or payroll taxes because they’re unemployed. But that’s a small fraction of the country.

Behind this argument, however, is a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in the coming years. Here’s how it works.

Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That’s why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that. (You also see a jump after the financial crisis begins in 2008, but we can expect that to be mostly temporary.)

Some of those tax cuts for the poor were there to make the tax cuts for the rich more politically palatable. “Do you think we wanted to include a welfare payment to people who don’t pay taxes and call it a tax cut?” A top Bush administration official once asked me. “No. But that’s what we needed to do to get it done.”

But now that those tax cuts have passed and many fewer Americans are paying federal income taxes and the rich are paying a much higher percentage of federal income taxes, Republicans are arguing that these Americans they have helped free from income taxes have become a dependent and destabilizing “taker” class who want to hike taxes on the rich in order to purchase more social services for themselves. The antidote, as you can see in both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s policy platforms, is to further cut taxes on “job creators” while cutting the social services that these takers depend on. That way, you roll the takers out of what Ryan calls “the hammock” of government and you unleash the makers to create jobs and opportunities.

So notice what happened here: Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich.

That’s why Romney’s theory here is more than merely impolitic. It’s actually core to his economic agenda.

Mario Piperni on Mitt’s Latest Muff

Romney – Raw and Unplugged

September 17, 2012 By

Are you a Barack Obama supporter? Well, check out below what Mitt Romney thinks of you. The words were spoken at a fundraiser earlier this year. Mother Jones obtained a tape of Romney’s Q&A session with a group of wealthy donors.

Here’s Romney responding to a question on how he can defeat Barack Obama.

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.

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.

Talk about contempt. The assumption that anyone not earning enough to pay federal taxes must be a free-loading liberal, is another example of right-wing insanity. Apparently, inside the bubble there are no struggling conservatives…nor are there people who have worked hard their entire lives but find themselves struggling to make ends meet during difficult economic times…and Romney feels it’s not the job of president to “worry about these people.”

I’ll let an MJ reader respond.

I just wanted to chime in, as one of the 47 percent. I don’t pay income taxes. I have several dependents, a home mortgage deduction, and I just started a small business that is doing well. My taxable income is still quite small, and with my deductions and credits, I pay nothing in income taxes. I do pay property taxes, sales taxes, medicare and social security taxes, and all the fees that are actually taxes. I am not a free loader, I am a job creator, even if it is just my job.

In short, I would just like to say to Mitt Romney, you are a piece of lying filth, and I hope you get a terrible case of itching crotch rot.

Here’s one of the videos of Romney speaking at the fundraiser. Check out David Corn’s piece for more.

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