An Elegant Explanation of Romney’s 47% Failure

A friend of a friend posted this on Facebook and I asked permission to repost it here because I felt it hit exactly the right message and tone. Wish I could have said it this well myself:


“No mainstream liberals will dispute that if you comb through the welfare rolls you will find people who are looking to freeload off the system. Any sufficiently large organization – public or private – is going to have some freeriders and dead weight. The reason Romney is – justifiably, in my opinion – getting so much flak for his comments is that he is applying the descriptor of an anecdotally small fragment of those who receive government benefits and applying it to everybody who does not pay federal income tax, be they soldiers on deployment, retirees, the disabled, or the working poor. 

Moreover, he presumes – wrongly – that the group not paying federal income tax in a given year is a static group of moochers and “takers” who take no responsibility for their lives. On the contrary, that group is constantly shifting depending on financial circumstance. Virtually all of them have paid income taxes in the past, and all of them pay other forms of taxes even if they don’t pay income tax. As somebody posted on another of Rachel’s threads: “Collecting from a system you have paid into is not entitlement: It’s return on investment, and it is your right, IMV.” Wise words, I think – what thoughtful guy could have said that? 😉

Romney earns my scorn for his remarks for two reasons. First, he’s out of touch. The vast majority of people who receive federal assistance do so temporarily – for 1-3 years. They paid taxes before they fell on hard times, and they get out as soon as they can. Because federal assistance payments are really not very high, and trying to eke out a living off of them is brutal. Romney clearly has no clue – either of the dynamics of the system or the actual living condition of the people he casually dismisses as irresponsible sponges. He’s not a brave truth-teller – he’s a clueless panderer of shoddy stereotypes in place of nuanced understanding.

Second, he’s a hypocrite. This is a man who, when pressed on his own low tax payments, as a percentage of income, claims self-righteously that he pays precisely what the law requires, and not a penny more. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, although it reveals a stunning lack of understanding for why anyone earning, y’know, wages, might raise their eyebrows at the tax bill of such a wealthy person. But to then turn around and criticize others who pay less tax than Romney thinks they should – but again, exactly what the law requires – is the rankest sort of hypocrisy. David Brooks has it almost right – at least Thurston Howell III had the odd moment of generosity and insight after years on that island. –Ray Lavoie”