I’ve listened to the Mother Jones video several times now – I just listened to it again – and I don’t hear a controversy. I don’t hear anything inflammatory. I don’t hear one word said in malice or with the intent to hurt anyone. And I certainly don’t hear anything not true.
Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Pay Federal Income Tax
In the Mother Jones video Romney makes the claim that 47% of Americans don’t pay a federal income tax. He’s right, or at least he was right when he made the claim. In 2011 that number was only 46%, but in 2010 the percentage of Americans not paying the tax was 47%. Just like Romney said.
According to the CBO, in aggregate, the poorest 60% of us don’t pay a federal income tax. Worse, the top quintile, the wealthiest 20%, pay more than 94% of federal incomes taxes according to the most recent numbers in 2009.
Ninety Four Percent!
Romney Was Discussing Campaign Strategy
The left has gone crazy with the release of this video. The reporting is that this is proof that Romney doesn’t care about “poor America.” The quote “And so my job is not to worry about these people.” is getting all the play. But what did Romney mean? He meant, of course, that there is a population of America that’s gonna vote for Obama no matter the evidence presented them. Further, and more specifically, there is a population of America who have a tax situation that renders them immune to the concept of lower taxes – They’re already not paying any. For this population, “tax the rich” resonates.
Romney is simply saying that he’ll never win this sector and therefore, won’t campaign to them. This is no more controversial than Romney admitting that he doesn’t need to campaign in California, New York or Texas. He’s already lost the first two and won the last. Does that mean when he wins he won’t govern with those state in mind? Clearly not, to think such a thing is ridiculous.
And so it is with that segment of the population Romney has identified as the 47%
Is the 47% Label Literal
No. The label is symbolic and not meant to be taken literal. Within that 47% of the folks not paying federal income taxes are staunch Romney supports. And to be sure, there are significant numbers in the remaining 53% that won’t ever considering pulling the lever for Romney. The label is meant to convey that segment of American’s who make a living out taking support from the government. Are there seniors paying no federal income taxes that are going to vote Republican? You betcha! And are they insulted by this statement? No way.
Because they know who Romney is talking about.
This Is Politics – Turn About Is Fair Play
All of this is, of course true. And no matter how loud the liberal screams from the rooftop, it won’t change the fact that this is true. However, there IS something else that’s equally true; life is a bitch.
Sometime ago Obama was stumping at a firehouse in Virgina when he uttered the rallying cry for the republicans, his now famous “You didn’t build that.” In that statement Obama clearly was referring to the infrastructure that supports America, but the right took it like sharks to blood. And it’s been a powerful indictment on the perception of Obama. My suspicion is that the left is going to use this in the same way. No reasonable person listening to Romney’s comments are going to interpret them as Romney admitting that he won’t govern with that 47% in mind.
But all’s fair in love and war. And politics.