The 47% Solution

« September 2012 »

Memo to Mitt Romney: YEP, YOU'RE A DICK.

Time once again for Mondays With Mitt, your weekly look at why Mitt Romney is an awful person, and why you shouldn't vote for him even though, at this point, if you've decided to vote for Romney, clearly nothing can change your mind.

No theme song yet, because I've completed 47% of it and am depending on the government to finish the rest. Which is a hint about what aspect of the Romney candidacy I'll be discussing. The other hint? The entire last week.

"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 on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing... M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." - Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser in video secured for public release by, I shit you not, Jimmy Carter's grandson.

There's a lot of startling shit in the secret Romney video, but let's look at what's garnering the most attention. What Mitt does here is truly astonishing - he basically combines two right-wing bugaboos and polling numbers into a myth of truly astonishing proportions.

First, the "47%". To understand why this number is significant to Romney's quote, you have to know where it came from. Basically, around a year ago, the right seized on the fact that 47% of Americans don't pay federal income taxes, and since it was a percentage, decided to use it as a counterpoint to the "99%/1%" rhetoric coming out of the Occupy protests.

This was a classic false equivalency move - framing something that has nothing to do with income inequality and using it to try and counter a point about income inequality. It was boosted by a bunch of disingenuous morons leaving off the words "federal" and "income", and ignoring all the state, local, property, sales, and payroll taxes that give even the poorest in America a higher effective taxation rate than what Mitt Romney admits to, much less what he probably really paid.

The other part of the equation is an idea that Romney's expressed before, in different ways. That lazy (black) poor (black) people will all vote for Obama because they know Romney will make them work for a living instead of living high off the food stamp hog. I mean, you can't count on welfare to get you into car elevator money, but you can count on the government to get you close to that $200,000-$250,000 median income without actually working, right?

So what Mitt did is, he took the Obama poll numbers, conflated them with the 47% (actually 46%) who don't pay federal income taxes because they're old and don't have any income, or they're in the military, or they're children, or they're poor enough to qualify for Ronald Reagan's Earned Income Tax Credit, which isn't even remotely correct.

You'd think it WOULD be correct, but it turns out a surprising number of poor people vote for rich Republicans, because they're rural or bigots or stupid or tricked into voting against their own self interest or whatever. So they're not the same group of people.

And then there are the poor, the unemployed, the welfare recipients. Even if you accept the argument coming from the purveyors of massive income inequality and the people who fucked the economy that these people are losers who should starve (because they're not entitled to food, remember) because they're not taking personal responsibility for their own lives, that's still not the same people as Obama voters, and it's not the same people who aren't paying income taxes.

Forget that he says he doesn't care about half the country. He can, and has, claimed he meant that electorally. And that's a fair reading. They're both fair readings, actually. Mitt Romney doesn't want your vote, AND despises you on general principle.

What people should be focusing on is how incredibly fucking wrong Mitt Romney was. He blatantly mischaracterized half the country as people too lazy to work to feed themselves, based on a completely mythical combination of other complete myths. That's not just being a dick, that's criminal incompetence. That's our Mitt!