A leaked video that was recorded in secret showed Mitt Romney at a private fundraising dinner saying he doesn’t care about 47% of America. It was obtained and disseminated by Mother Jones, a San-Francisco based magazine. It’s a very damaging comment to his campaign. He has in the past subconsciously or unintentionally differentiated his campaign from the poorest Americans, but this was a direct hit.
I actually heard the words ‘sneering plutocrat’ mentioned on Anderson Cooper 360 as a characterization of Mitt Romney.
“These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven per cent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll [Obama] be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.”
“I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to [do] is convince the five to ten per cent in the center that are independents…”
An important lesson about politics, as declared by political journalist Michael Kinsley, is that a true political gaffe is when a law-maker or leader utters something that is unintentionally true.
The Republican leadership has now openly disclosed that democracy is for the few in Romney’s America. The Republican campaign is about the benefactors of $50,000 dollars-a-plate dinner parties, swing states, and their independent, middle-class voters.
What independent is now going to publicly pledge support for the Romney ticket after these admissions?
This indiscretion is unsurprising because it comes on the heels of a litany of Republican slip ups by this year’s cohort in the Grand Old Party’s nomination race.
Romney called out Ricky Perry, the Governor of Texas, during the Dec 2011 Iowa nomination debates in response to an accusation that Romney deleted certain controversial sentences from his book, No Apology. On stage and into the mic, Romney denied the accusation and offered to wager $10,000 dollars on it. The average Iowan earns $10 thousand in 3 months.
In February of this year, Romney attended a NASCAR event, the most popularly consumed sport in the nation by some indicators. His attempt to connect with the commoners unintentionally reaffirmed his image as a clueless rich person. When asked if he is a committed NASCAR fan, Romney said, “Not as closely as some of the more ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.” This will presumably make no difference to NASCAR drivers, who euphoniously booed Michelle Obama at one event.
In the same month, Romney said to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that, “And, by the way, I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”
And now he’s the declared enemy of 47% of the country.
The underclass, this 47% of Americans that the Republican Party does not care a damn about, are an actually existing assemblage of people. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center has produced a study on who this 47% is and how they’re quantified according to the US tax code.
With these words, Romney wrote off nearly half the country as doomed to history. Not since the time of President James Buchanan, when the US was a slave republic, has a possible occupant of the White House so openly turned his back on a such a large proportion of the American people.
Another portion of the video was released early today where Romney said Palestinians are making the Middle East peace process impossible. This is not such an inflammatory remark in US domestic politics. Romney made a similar statement while in Israel just prior to this year’s Olympics games.
Romney’s speech was released by James Carter IV, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter (1976-1980). Romney also doubled down on the speech, saying it was inelegantly stated, but he didn’t actually repudiate the content of it.
The so-called 47% include the elderly and veterans, who are the beneficiaries of certain tax credits. Romney’s gaffe is truly self-damaging in that he could be alienating these key constituents in his voter base, who he broadly painted as moochers.
Some reports and fact checkers have disputed Romney’s categorization of 47% of the US population. For instance, just because one doesn’t pay federal income tax does not mean that they paid no taxes at all. The Huffington Post reports that most people pay payroll taxes and consumption taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice, one of the best sources for economic reporting in the country, reports that many of the richest corporations don’t pay federal income tax, and its not as if Romney was prepared to attack them.