Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment deserves an accurate analysis. First, there is little doubt that his statement that some 47 percent of U.S. households do not pay federal income tax is correct.
Who makes up this 47 percent? Contrary to Gov. Romney’s insinuation, these are not all young, healthy welfare bums who expect the government to support them while they never do a day’s work in their lives. The vast majority of this 47 percent is made up of the working poor, retirees on limited incomes and the more than 8 percent unemployed.
Many of these people pay payroll taxes, state and local property taxes. They do not pay federal income taxes simply because they do not receive enough money to require them to pay such taxes.
But Gov. Romney made no such distinctions. To him, these people are all voting for President Obama because they are “dependent on the government” and they will not “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” So, Gov. Romney writes off all these people.
Now, these statements are not part of an off-hand remark or taken out of context. These statements are part of a reasoned, consistent speech by Gov. Romney at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser on May 17.
A number of letter writers and columnists, on both sides, will present biased half-truths or distortions of a candidate’s actions and words. You might accuse me of doing the same. I urge you, therefore, to go on the Internet and watch the video of this speech yourself or read an accurate transcript of what Gov. Romney says. He makes it clear that he writes off and despises this entire group of people, including the working poor, limited-income retirees and the 8 percent unemployed.
His remarks in this regard are especially bizarre when you realize that this includes the unemployed. This is a major complaint of Gov. Romney and his supporters, that President Obama has not significantly helped the unemployed (as though any president has such overwhelming power that he can manipulate the entire economy of a country as large as ours).
For whom does Gov. Romney expected the 8 percent unemployed to vote? He has already written them off and expressed derision for them as people “who are dependent on the government.” Can they expect that he will suddenly cease to despise them if he becomes president? Yet, at the same time, he claims that President Obama is incapable of helping them. For whom, then, does he expect them to vote?
Gov. Romney and his supporters will no doubt claim that he really doesn’t despise these people. The simple answer is, yes, he does. He makes no distinctions within this group of 47 percent and his attitude toward them is crystal clear. Listen to the speech.
If you belong to one of the three groups I mentioned above — the working poor, limited-income retirees or the unemployed — why would you even consider voting for a candidate who clearly expresses that he despises you and has already written you off?
The signs around Olean should not read “Obama vs. America,” but “Romney vs. America.” Gov. Romney is the one who stated his contempt for nearly half of all Americans.
(Mr. Muse lives in Olean.)