For a supposedly religious guy, Mitt Romney is remarkably uncaring and uncompassionate.
This has been evident throughout his public campaigning, but it became super obvious when remarks to a bunch of rich donors he thought would be private popped up on You Tube.
This is the heart of Romney's heartlessness:
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.
What leaps out at me is a multimillionaire's shock that ordinary people "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing." Romney never has had to go without these things. But lots of people in the United States do, which is shameful give how rich our country is.
Imagine that your child or your spouse or your parent was seriously sick and needed health care; was achingly hungry and needed food; was homeless and needed a roof over his/her head.
Wouldn't you want government to help them out? I sure do.
And in fact, this is what our government does -- under both Democratic and Republican administrations, until now with little controversy and much bipartisan agreement. Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security. Food stamps. Low income housing.
Government comes to the aid of both those who pay income taxes, and those who don't.
Medicare and Social Security aren't given only to poor people. Yet Romney denigrates those getting government assistance who don't pay federal income taxes, while giving a free pass to all the seniors, plus many others (such as retired military personnel), who get government assistance and do pay income taxes.
Romney doesn't believe that health care, food, and housing are entitlements. Apparently he doesn't feel that government should help people who lack these necessities of life. So who should? Nobody? That's the most reasonable conclusion I can draw from Romney's remarks.
Because I haven't seen any mention that elsewhere in his remarks to the rich donor group Romney spoke about the need for private charities to ensure that health care, food, and housing are available to people who need, but can't afford, them.
Instead, Romney simply dismisses the idea that people in need are entitled to anything. Especially people who don't pay federal income taxes -- which, of course, includes many of our nation's largest corporations. And remember what Romney famously said, "Corporations are people too."
Aside from Romney's heartlessness, I also was irked by his implication that there's something wrong with those who don't pay federal income tax. A New Yorker piece, along with many other analyses, lays out who the 47% non-payers are, and why they don't pay. For example:
Over the past twenty years, governments of both parties have adopted policies that raised the income threshold at which households start paying income tax. Thanks to the child tax credit (enacted by Gerald Ford and expanded by George W. Bush) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (also enacted by Ford and expanded significantly by George H. W. Bush), a typical family of four can now make about forty-five thousand dollars a year before being subject to income tax. In New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, an annual income of forty-five thousand dollars isn’t much, but on a national basis it isn’t much below the median household income, which in 2011 was about fifty thousand dollars.
So Republican administrations have been trying to kick people off of the federal income tax roll. Now Romney criticizes people for taking advantage of the tax breaks that G.O.P. presidents wanted them to have.
Even more irritatingly, Romney has proudly revealed that he doesn't pay much himself in federal income tax, given his very high income, because he takes advantage of the intricacies of the tax code.
Well, that's what other people do too. But since they're poorer than him, somehow it is wrong for them to pay no federal income tax while it is fine for rich individuals and corporations to avoid paying that tax.
Lastly, eight of the ten states with the highest percentage of people who don't pay any federal income tax are solidly Republican. So Romney got that wrong too. The biggest feeders at the federal trough live in the Tea Party-friendly south, where they talk big about freedom from government while sucking up government benefits at a high rate.
Ruth Marcus asks some good questions of Romney:
(1) Under the federal tax code, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax because the standard deduction and exemptions reduce their taxable income to zero. The Tax Policy Center has explained that this reflects components of “the basic progressive income tax structure that intend to exempt subsistence levels of income from tax and to adjust for differences in ability to pay based on family size. “
Do you disagree with that approach? Do you believe that this family’s tax burden is too low? If so, how would you raise it? Eliminate the deduction for children? Raise marginal rates? Make the tax code less progressive?
(2) Of the 47 percent of households that do not owe federal income taxes, two thirds pay payroll taxes that amount to 7.6 percent of income. Indeed, under standard economic theory, the employer’s side of those payroll taxes also comes from their income — meaning that their 15 percent tax rate compares roughly to your 13.9 percent effective rate in 2010, the year for which you’ve released returns. And, of course, these households pay state and local sales and property taxes, plus federal gasoline and other excise taxes.
In what way do you believe these households are failing to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives”?
(3) Of the 18 percent of households that pay neither income nor payroll taxes, most are elderly (10 percent of households).
What do you believe these elderly households should do to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives?” Do you support repealing special tax benefits for the elderly, such as the extra standard deduction, the tax credit for low-income seniors and the exclusion of a portion of Social Security benefits from taxation?
(4) Another 7 percent are households earning less than $20,000 a year. That seems like a far cry from the 47 percent you describe as “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.”
But I’m confused about where you stand, because you have also said, "I'm concerned about the poor in this country. We have to make sure the safety net is strong and able to help those who can't help themselves."
Do you believe in a safety net or not?