Mitt Romney Misjudges Voters
An old tape that shows
Romney's campaign and conservative media have been touting the 1998 video clip of then-state Sen.
That R-word is a fighting word to the far right, especially the wingnuts who view Obama as a quasi-Marxist, secret Muslim and secret Kenyan who can't wait to hand your nest egg over to welfare cheats.
However, as more sensible conservatives point out, the "redistribution" sound-bite is hardly hot news. We chewed over the redistributionist rap quite well after candidate Obama told
Besides, in an uncut version of the
In fact, whether we Americans face up to it or not, we're all redistributionists now, including Romney.
Take, for example,
So is our progressive tax structure, with its complicated array of income brackets and exemptions. Even flat-tax proponents tend to be redistributionists. They merely want to redistribute the taxing-and-spending burdens and benefits in a different way from the existing system.
That's where Romney rolled off the rails, in my view, in his far more damaging, secretly videotaped remarks at a
Responding to a question about his campaign, Romney declared that he was not going to worry about the "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what" because they "pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect." They were "dependent upon government," Romney said, and they believe that they are "victims" and "are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
But the 47 percent who didn't pay federal income taxes in 2011 didn't pay because they did not owe any taxes. More than half of them did work and paid payroll taxes and state and local taxes, but did not earn enough to pay federal income taxes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The rest were mostly elderly. Fewer than one in 10 were classified as nonworking.
And the taxes they paid amounted to a higher percentage of their income than they did for upper income earners, the center reports.
Although Romney allowed in a
"I think people would like to be paying taxes," he said in what may be the nicest thing that a major Republican candidate has said about taxes since the era before
In fact, Romney used to like redistributive programs more back in the days when he was a moderate governor of
That's politics. The political issue is not whether government redistributes but who pays and who benefits.
Besides, Romney should know better than to conflate the non-paying 47 percent with committed Obama voters. Only about two-thirds of people in families earning less than
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