I’ve had a week to mull over Mitt Romney’s now infamous 47% tape, and my final conclusion is that Romney is too honest a republican. Nothing he said in that tape in regard to “poor” people (he was actually talking about the middle class) is any great departure from his party, either in rhetoric or in action. He didn’t make up that 47% figure.
He just repeated something that has been floating around in republican ideology for decades now. The 47% is the GOPs go-to demonization group when they don’t have Muslims, Russians (Romney is still clinging on to them as a threat), gays, or minorities to fall back on. You probably all know by now, that the 47% number that republicans like to toss around isn’t really accurate. It includes retirees, who don’t pay taxes on their social security checks (which represent the taxes they paid their whole lives), veterans deployed in combat zones, students, and the disabled.
It also includes the working poor. This is a particularly interesting group, with regard to the republican rhetoric. You see, the working poor don’t pay federal income taxes (they do pay sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, and state income taxes) because they get a deduction called the “earned income tax credit”(or EITC). The EITC in combination with the Child Tax Credit usually wipes out their federal tax burden. Where did these tax credits come from? Republicans. Milton Friedman (yes, that Milton Friedman) cooked up the EITC deduction. It was passed in 1975 under a democratically controlled congress, and signed into law by Gerald Ford. The idea behind the EITC was that if working people didn’t make very much money, minimizing their tax burdens would keep them working, and therefor off any public assistance programs. Makes sense, right? It made sense to Ronald Reagan. He was a big fan of the EITC.
Shouldn’t all republicans, past and present support this? It’s a tax credit. I thought they were all for people paying less taxes? What the fuck is the problem? Shouldn’t the GOP look upon these people as being American heroes for finding the taxless utopia they say they want? And why is it that modern republicans refer to Mitt Romney as a financial genius when he writes off $77,000 a year to maintain a fucking dancing horse, in order to minimize his tax burden, but a married couple with two kids making $30,000 a year can’t take a $3,363 EITC deduction without being freeloaders? Why is there such disdain for one class of people taking a relatively minute tax write off, when there’s nothing but praise for another class taking much more robust deductions?
The answer is obvious; the middle class and the working poor don’t have lobbyists, and therefore aren’t real people. They’re abstractions that don’t get any consideration at all. So much so, that republicans can’t even see that this class of people are doing what the GOP platform is based on; not paying taxes. Republicans have worked themselves up so much in their demonization, that they are no longer capable of consistency.
To them, Mitt Romney didn’t say anything wrong in that speech. He just got caught telling the truth. No one has talked about this, but did you hear any booing or jeers on that tape? I didn’t. I heard laughter when Romney said that he would have a better shot at getting elected if he were Mexican. Really , Mitt? Your father would have been the CEO of a major car company in the 50s if he were Mexican? He would have been elected to be the Governor of Michigan if he were Mexican? He would have been able to send you to Harvard and given you millions of dollars of seed money to start Bain Capital if he were Mexican?
These people have spun themselves into an inexplicable state of victimhood by putting themselves up on pedestals from which to look down on everyone outside of their class. They really believe that they are the anointed ones, being preyed upon by the rest of us. They’re entitled to $77,000 a year for dancing horses, while being galled by the idea of anyone taking $3,363 a year to feed themselves.
These people aren’t rational anymore. They see themselves as both anointed and victims simultaneously. What’s worse, they have absolved themselves of any civil responsibility. They are the elite puppet masters that make the world go round, and yet they bare no responsibility for fixing the country’s problems because problems they don’t have aren’t legitimate problems. Poor people are poor because they are lazy, and therefor not a problem. Rape victims that get pregnant obviously weren’t raped, since their bodies allowed he pregnancy to happen. Poor kids that want to go to college should just borrow the tuition money from their parents. Rising health insurance costs aren’t their problem because they don’t ever have to worry about being able to afford to buy health insurance.
The elite in that room don’t bother me nearly as much as the people that will vote for them. Romney was dead wrong when he said that “the 47%” won’t vote for him. An alarmingly large percentage of them will. Remember the tea party rallies full of senior citizens in medicare and social security? Remember how they were riding around on their fancy scooters that medicare paid for, while screaming about how they were being tread on? No, these are the real assholes among us. I can understand the 1% trying to protect their own self interest. I can’t understand the bottom 20% that go along with this crap, just so that they can elevate themselves in their own minds by punching down at the fictional people below them on the social totem poll.
Mitt Romney didn’t write off a constituency that the republican party cares about. He just made the mistake of saying that they’ve been written off out loud. He was too honest, and his crime was that he was careless enough to say out loud, what his party believes.