Day: September 18, 2012

Thurston Howell Romney

David Brooks’ Op-ed in The New York Times has  many pundits talking…

The New York Times Opinion Page

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.

There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.

But these are not the sensible arguments that Mitt Romney made at a fund-raiser earlier this year. 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.

Continue reading here…

 

“Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election…”

The title of this post is from Bloomberg View, the editorial arm of Bloomberg.com

Bloomberg View – By Josh Barro

You can mark my prediction now:  A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney  fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmovable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This is an utter disaster for Romney.

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.

Romney has been vigorously denying President Obama’s claims that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class. Now, he’s been caught on video suggesting that low- and middle-income Americans are undertaxed.

(That one is especially problematic given the speculation about what’s on Mitt’s unreleased pre-2010 tax returns.)

Corn tells us there are more embarrassing moments on segments of the video he hasn’t released yet. Romney jokes that he’d be more likely to win the election if he were Hispanic. He makes some awkward comments about whether he was born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth.

But those are survivable. The really disastrous thing is the clip about “victims,” and the combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him.

Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are. This video provides an answer: He feels that you’re a loser. It’s not an answer that wins elections.

(Josh Barro is lead writer for the Ticker. E-mail him and follow him on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View at the Ticker.

Why the Poor Pay No Federal Income Tax: A Wee Tutorial

I’ll try to put the Mitt Romney tape fiasco into perspective:

Mitt Romney had to call an impromptu news conference late this evening to explain his remarks in the following video:

Here is a portion of the press conference video in which he makes no apologies for his remarks:

Mother Jones – Kevin Drum

Is it true, as Mitt Romney says, that 47% of Americans don’t pay federal income tax? Yes! That’s mostly because they’re either poor, elderly, or take advantage of tax credits for low-income workers. Details here.  But why do these people pay no income tax? Ezra Klein breaks it down into Twitter-sized chunks:

  • Rs have spent years cutting income taxes and increasing things like the Child Tax Credit. This means fewer people pay income taxes.
  • So whenever you hear a stat like “47% don’t pay income taxes,” remember: Reagan and Bush helped build that.
  • These tax cuts for the poor were partly in order to make further tax cuts for the rich political palatable.
  • But now that fewer people pay income taxes as a result of GOP policies, they’re being called lazy and dependent.
  • And thus the GOP’s tax cuts are being used to make a case that the rich are overtaxed and that the less-rich are becoming dependent.
  • Which thus leads to a policy agenda of tax cuts for the rich and cuts to social services for the non-rich.

Yep, that’s about it. Also worth noting: the poor often pay higher state tax rates than the rich. Add in payroll taxes and excise taxes, instead of cherry picking only a single tax, and it turns out that the poor and the working class end up paying a fair chunk of their income in taxes. Not as big a chunk as the rich, it’s true, but then, it strikes most of us as perfectly fair that the poor should pay lower tax rates than the rich. I wonder if this strikes Romney as fair too?