Did Mitt muff it?

Published:

Mitt Romney probably never thought he’d have to defend remarks he made privately to a group of campaign contributors in May, virtually writing off votes from the 47 percent of Americans who get government benefits while paying no federal income taxes and thus are more likely to support his opponent, President Obama. Thanks to digital technology, a video of his appearance did get out and now he has to make the best of the situation.

There was an immediate outburst of revulsion from groups supportive of the government programs the Republican nominee berated, but many others agree with the proposition that the “nanny state” has gotten out of hand. Romney’s challenge is to clarify the exact meaning of his comments. The raw numbers he presented suggest a potential advantage for his side if he makes his case effectively. If the 53 percent who do pay income taxes vote for him, he’ll defeat the incumbent president.

It’s not that simple, of course. Plenty of taxpayers concur with the president that part of their money should go to humanitarian services. And some of those who depend on government assistance would rather get off the dole and find their way to self-sufficiency. Maybe that’s why a poor state like Kentucky, with a disproportionate segment of its population dependent on federal checks, favors Romney over Obama.

Many of those who make too little money to owe federal income taxes are retirees on Social Security and Medicare. Surely the GOP candidate did not intend to cede their votes to the president. Older people who’ve spent most of their lives paying Social Security and Medicare taxes aren’t “dependents.” To the contrary, they’re debt-collectors who lent the government money from every paycheck in full expectation that they’d get their due when their turn arrived. It’s not their fault that politicians mismanaged their money and used some of it for other purposes. The debt stands, and Washington should take it every bit as seriously as what’s owed to China and other creditors who’ve cashed in on America’s regrettable new role as the world’s biggest debtor nation.

Perhaps the country would have been better off in the long run if President Roosevelt, in crafting Social Security, had created it as a personal savings program, underwritten by the government, rather than one that compensates retirees out of current payments from active workers. But that’s water under the bridge. The generation now easing into retirement had no choice but to participate in the mandatory system and it expects politicians to uphold the contract. Future updates necessitated by changing demographics should not come at the expense of current beneficiaries.

It’s significant that, while lambasting freeloaders in the system, Romney still hasn’t provided full disclosure of what he has and hasn’t paid in federal income taxes. Now more than ever, he needs to come clean and let the voters decide for themselves whether he’s contributed his fair share. The fact that he denounced the culture of dependency while addressing a group of well-heeled political donors only reinforces the perception of elitism.

Romney’s task now is to speak directly to the rest of us and elucidate how he’ll bring dependency back within bounds while recognizing that there’s nothing wrong with depending on government to keep its promises. Democrats, meanwhile, should not assume we’re suckers for any demagoguery they mount in response to this GOP embarrassment. There’s plenty of political skullduggery on both sides.

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  • Laugh about this 671, it is really funny! Casino tycoon and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson is worth just over $21 billion and now in the cross hairs of the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Recently, Adelson made history: He is the first person to spend $70 million to sway a presidential election, and he plans to spend more — perhaps as much as $100 million — by Election Day. An estimated $20 million to $30 million of the giving went to groups that do not disclose their donors and had not been reported before. And he is one that we know about...there are many who we will never know about...from all over the world (thanks to Citizen's United and Supreme Court). ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... That's nearly three times the $24 million that liberal billionaire George Soros spent to try to beat President George W. Bush in 2004, Politico's Mike Allen notes. “He’s the man of the hour,” said a Republican official who has visited him in Vegas many times. “Everyone’s trying to get in to see him – every candidate, every PAC director, every campaign committee, every super PAC guy. When you’re giving out money the way he is, everyone wants a piece of the pie.”

  • L!!!!O!!!!L!!!!!

  • Need4speed: What about the two rich guys you initially mentioned, George Soros, Jefferey Immelt? Surely you could dig up some progressive rich guy somewhere who may or may not have offshore accounts. I don't believe that money made in this country should be able to be "offshored" to avoid paying their fair share of taxes on it. That is the difference between me and you Teaparty enthusiasts who want to elect rich people who have made it a pattern and practice to rig the tax code for their own largess. ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ The whole point of Romney's comments where he tries to combine three distinct groups into one moocher class (people who are too poor, too old and too many kids/dependents) to pay fed tax, is that only the rich have the power and have actually installed tax code to that end to benefit themselves. The poor sure haven't...and Ryan is after them. Buffet is not a presidential candidate nor has he ever been President. This is a race between Willard Mitt Romney and President Obama. Compare them! While what Romney has been doing with his offshore accounts (with $30 million in Bain Capital funds in the Cayman Islands alone) may be legal (who knows since he will not release his returns), it sure is unethical as Newt Gingrich and other Republicans have clearly noted. Was ol' Newt "a LIBERAL who is STILL spewing hate", when during one debate he asked Romney about the 23 offshore accounts operating in a legal gray zone that he didn't want anyone to know about? Was ol's Newt a socialist when he later said “I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.” (or the holdings stashed in tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands)? ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................If Romney/Ryan get in and install their plan, Romney's personal tax rate will go from a paltry 14% to 2%...2%, and you guys think that that is OK. What a deal! What chumps! Who are the real tax avoiders (chislers on relief) here...the 47% or the 1%? The record and therefore, the answer is clear. ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................671, I am sorry for my error, and you are correct about state retirees paying federal tax, they do. In my enthusiastic zeal, I confused KRS members not paying STATE income taxes with fed taxes. My mistake. But it sounds like you are the one "spewing hate" around here. Have a glorious day!

  • Here are the articles you requested. Apparently "Saint Warren" is offshoring as well http://romanticpoet.wordpress.com/tag/george-soros-offshore-banking-accounts/

  • Need, don't worry, a LIBERAL who is STILL spewing hate and knows nothing about what she is talking about. The FACT is, a lot of RETIRED, KY. state employees pay federal income tax.

  • Yeah need4speed, they are both wealthy men who are not running for President. So what?Where are the articles talking about their offshore accounts? What about President Obama's skullduggery? Where are the articles about his offshore accounts that he is paying 0% tax on? ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ What part of the Romney story is demagoguery and not factual? Which Democrat has made anything like Romney's ridiculous elitist assertions about that lazy, mooching 47 percent that just wants to live off of the government dole? A large part of that 47% are seniors who are collecting SS and Medicare and paid into the system all of their lives. Shucks, a working family of five who make $50,000 does not pay any federal income tax. Retired KY state employees do not pay any federal tax! Are all of these moochers? And in this analysis we learn that apparently Mittens' own parents would not be supporters of his, since they were on welfare when they came back from their family's exile in Mexico (where polygamy is not so frowned upon). .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Romney's disastrous press conference where the Editor claims his "challenge is to clarify the exact meaning of his comments" (heck fire, we ALL know exactly what he was talking about, that wasn't the challenge) was like the captain of a cruise ship trying to convince the everyone to stay calm while blowing up his life jacket, just before hitting an iceberg. No, Mitt's challenge is to try to explain away why his high functioning autistic brain will not be an impediment to his representing ALL of the people, and not just his 1% elitists buds. Fat chance on that!

  • Short answer...George Soros. Jefferey Immelt. Almost every Hollywood dipstick.

  • "Nanny state" for whom? In Romney's world, that would be the very rich...the same people who have been given most favored status for the last 30 years, and their rise in income proves it. Everyone else has seen their relative incomes either go down or flatline on the chart for the same time period. Explain again how there is plenty of skullduggery on both sides...I can only see it on one side. Enlighten me...