Of Gaffes And False Equivalencies

image of Mitt Romney Grimacing

I’m sure everyone has seen the video of Mitt Romney talking about never getting the vote of the so-called 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes and who will vote for the President to keep the checks coming. My amusement came from the fact that what he said is how people like Romney actually feel about the rest of us regular people. Some have called it a gaffe and then Republicans trot out gaffes said by President Obama at different times as if it’s the same thing as what Romney did. It’s a false equivalency, the Republican whine shows they are missing the forest for the trees.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters

Of course Romney is wrong but his statement echoes the typical cheap labor conservative’s view on anyone who is not them. They believe that if you need help to get by you are a victim, lazy, a moocher, a parasite, or any other label they use to belittle the middle class and lower. They don’t mention all the government help the 1% get like tax breaks and bail outs.

Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That’s why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that. (You also see a jump after the financial crisis begins in 2008, but we can expect that to be mostly temporary.)

But now that those tax cuts have passed and many fewer Americans are paying federal income taxes and the rich are paying a much higher percentage of federal income taxes, Republicans are arguing that these Americans they have helped free from income taxes have become a dependent and destabilizing “taker” class who want to hike taxes on the rich in order to purchase more social services for themselves. The antidote, as you can see in both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s policy platforms, is to further cut taxes on “job creators” while cutting the social services that these takers depend on. That way, you roll the takers out of what Ryan calls “the hammock” of government and you unleash the makers to create jobs and opportunities.

Romney’s theory of the “taker class,” and why it matters

And we know those tax cuts for the “job creators” haven’t worked as the cheap labor conservatives told us it would.

The Republicans attempted to counter Romney’s foot-in-mouth by trotting out two old “gaffes” by President Obama.

The first one used was a 1998 speech he gave to a college where he supposedly said he supported redistribution of wealth in the negative sense that cheap labor conservatives fear. That one was pretty funny since President Obama has not done a good job with redistribution of wealth or as a socialist.

They also attempted to say that Senator Obama’s 2008 election comment about people clinging to guns and religion was the same as what Romney said about the 47% who won’t vote for him. Romney is wrong about that too.

Some pundits have likened Romney’s comments to Barack Obama’s 2008 monologue, also secretly recorded at a fund-raiser, about his difficulties with white working class voters in rural Pennsylvania. But the spirit of Obama’s remarks was precisely the opposite of Romney’s. While Obama couched his beliefs in condescending sociological analysis about how poor small town residents vote on the basis of guns and religion rather than economics, the thrust of Obama’s argument was that he believed his policies would help them, and to urge his supporters to make common cause with them…

Obama was aspiring to become president of all of America, even that part most hostile to him, in the belief that what they shared mattered more than what divided them. Romney genuinely seems to conceive of the lowest-earning half of the population as implacably hostile parasites.

The Real Romney Captured on Tape Turns Out to Be a Sneering Plutocrat

Yes President Obama was running for president of all of the US and wondered how he could reach people who vote against their best interests. Romney on the other hand see people lower on the economic ladder than he as a problem needing to be worked around as any arrogant entitled 1% person would think.

So no, Mitt Romney’s condescension toward people struggling to feed, house, and clothed themselves and their children is nothing like what Obama said about those who cling to religion and guns.

Besides this is 2012 and statements Obama made in 1998 or 2008 aren’t relevant now because he got the job and his record is pretty clear that he isn’t a Marxist nor did he ignore the people who hate his very existence and continue to vote for Republicans who really DO want to hurt them.

Romney’s comments and his whole campaign have been based on his idea that he is entitled to be elected President and that is what is wrong with the political class in this country. They think they are entitled to power.