Mitt Romney, the 47%, and the GOP's Class War

Mitt Romney's belief that half of us don't care for ourselves is wrong, and overlook who the real "job creators" are.

Mitt Romney’s words, delivered to a select audience at the home of private equity trader Mark Leder, have been widely circulated.  Romney’ contention, that 47% of Americans feel entitled to food, shelter, even health care, provided by the federal
government, is based on fact.  47% of Americans do not pay federal income taxes.  Romney even went so far as two write off those Americans politically,
and contend they cannot care for themselves: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”  However, we need to look more closely at Romney’s claim, what he overlooks in making it, the assumptions he makes about almost half of the nation he would lead, and how
his comment is a symptom of the GOP’s continuing class war and evolution into an extremist party.

Romney’s evidence is true: 47% of Americans pay no federal
income tax.  This has been a growing concern on the American right, which fears that half of us aren’t paying our share, and are “taking” from the “productive” citizens who are compelled to “give,” unwillingly, to support an ungrateful dependent class.  However, as Ezra Klein ably argues in his Washington Post blog, Romney and his conservative colleagues overlook other facts.  FICA and Medicare deductions are taken from every paycheck, so the division of “givers” and “takers” is mendacious, and many of the 47% that Romney has written off politically pay a higher percentage of their incomes in federal taxes than Romney himself:  “For what it’s worth, this division of “makers” and “takers” isn’t true. Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid. Another 22 percent were elderly.”

Once we take that closer look at federal taxes, the situation is not nearly as alarming as the Republicans would have us believe.  Some 28% of taxpayers are employed, pay FICA and Medicare deductions, but do not earn enough income to pay federal income tax.  Another 10.3% are elderly: are Romney and the GOP in favor of taxing Social Security benefits?  Another 6.9% are not elderly, but have
incomes below $20,000 per year.  Is the GOP serious about reducing federal deficits by finding ways to tax those folks?  Are their plans to reduce federal
expenditures aimed at the working poor or recipients of public assistance?

Klein’s most explosive revelation, however, comes when he looks at when the numbers of citizens who pay no federal income taxes grew most sharply: during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.  GOP tax policy has produced the situation which figures like Romney present as a dire threat to the stability of the nation.  More to the point: has GOP tax policy created a wealthy class of taxpayers who do not shoulder their fair share of the burden, but still expect the public services upon which this society, and their fortunes, depend?

I’ve had many an argument with conservatives who bemoan our “culture of dependency.”  But, as David Brooks argued in his cogent essay about Romney’s statement, many of the Americans who are “dependent” on federal benefits are Caucasians with a high school education, the central element of the GOP’s voting strength.  Indeed, when you look at the map below of those states with the highest numbers of “dependent” people, they are clustered
in the American Southeast, the regional base of the GOP.

The current iteration of the GOP and American conservatism
has short-circuited any serious discussion of American fiscal policy.  Instead of taking a sober look at the growing
numbers of Americans who receive federal benefits, as Brooks wishes they would,
conservatives have chosen to invoke a divisive class war against those
Americans who have been left behind by the serial failures of Reagan, Bush I,
and Bush II economic and fiscal policies.

Indeed, the GOP seems to forget who the real “job creators” are.  While wealthy Americans like Romney and Leder sit on some $2 trillion in capital, Americans like you and me continue to pay, not just federal income taxes, FICA, and Medicare, but our property taxes, state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and various excise taxes, as well as fees to register our vehicles, or to hunt and fish.  We are the real “job creators,” since our tax dollars pay our emergency medical techs, police and fire fighters, social workers, teachers, road crews, and the millions of other salaries which keep our country going by providing public services we all need and benefit from.

Makes me wonder who the REAL parasites are who contribute nothing to this country.

Link to the full video of Romney’s address from Mother
Jones: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/watch-full-secret-video-private-romney-fundraiser

Link to Ezra Klein’s blog: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/09/17/romneys-theory-of-the-taker-class-and-why-it-matters/

Link to David Brooks’ essay: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/brooks-thurston-howell-romney.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120918

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Troy Murphy September 21, 2012 at 06:08 AM
"Indeed, the GOP seems to forget who the real “job creators” are.  While wealthy Americans like Romney and Leder sit on some $2 trillion in capital, Americans like you and me continue to pay, not just federal income taxes, FICA, and Medicare, but our property taxes, state and local income taxes, sales taxes, and various excise taxes, as well as fees to register our vehicles, or to hunt and fish.  We are the real “job creators,” since our tax dollars pay our emergency medical techs, police and fire fighters, social workers, teachers, road crews, and the millions of other salaries which keep our country going by providing public services we all need and benefit from." Since these jobs are paid for by tax dollars they are a net suck on the economy. No wealth is created it is just sucked from one person and given to another. These jobs do not create anything. We may need them but they do not generate new wealth. You like most liberals can't seem to grasp that tax dollars do not generate wealth, government employees like you may be a necessary evil but you do not create new wealth. You sound like Pelosi when she stated that every dollar spent on food stamps generated a dollar and a quarter in new tax revenue, if that were the case hand out 64 trillion in food stamps and we could pay off the national debt.
Jeff Klinzman September 21, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Go troll somewhere else, Troy. You're a bigot who isn't worth any more of my time.
Stephen Schmidt September 21, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Watch the personal attacks, guys.
Troy Murphy September 21, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I Don't recall a personal attack on Jeff, but as usual I see how liberals respond to differing opinions. The ironic part is he blogged this knowing conservatives would take issue and then he wants to call me a troll for disagreeing. Don't worry about me Stephan I can handle whatever names Jeff wants to throw, as long as they are not vulgar by the Patch's standards I can hold my own.
Stephen Schmidt September 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@Troy I mostly just like conversations about ideas and positions rather than flame wars. Even if you weren't offended, that's the tone I'd like to encourage on here in the comments.
Jack F September 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Does this author really believe this dribble or is he just spouting to get readers? He says only 28 percent are employed and pay taxes like it is no big deal. That right there is the Obama failure.
Jack F September 21, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Wait is he the same guy that just called one of his readers a "bigot"? No wonder no one pays this Klintzman any money to write out his opinion so he is regulated to the dark corners of the Patch for readers.
Troy Murphy September 22, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I will give Jeff this, I am a bigot when it comes to liberals, I am extremely intolerant and unwilling to accept views where you take from one group of people to give to another. Jeff wants to blame conservatives for those left behind when in all reality most of those left behind are the result of a social welfare systems that rewards you for being unproductive while punishing those who are productive members of society. The modern liberal agenda requires nothing from those who take advantage of the safety net. A perfect example of this is the food stamp program. They went to EBT cards, the failure here is that there is no limit to the number of cards issued per year, this effectively allows those who wish to sell them for cash to buy banned substances a way to do so. If government put say a two card limit people would be less likely to use them in a fraudulent manner because they wouldn't get paid the following month.
Jeff Klinzman September 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The word is "relegated," Jack.
Jeff Klinzman September 22, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Troy, the upper 1% of this country has done exactly what you claim to abhor: they have been the beneficiaries of wealth redistribution, from the bottom of this society to the top. Your contention, that it is lower-income people who are benefiting from wealth redistribution, is worth rebutting, and can be objectively documented. It's sad that you have to demonize food stamp recipients, while you lionize people like Romney who have made money by shipping jobs overseas. Oh, and Romney inherited most of his wealth, and is far from being a self-made man. I use the word "bigot" to refer to a person who clings to his prejudices despite all evidence to the contrary. And, it is the majority of people who pay their taxes and support public services who are the real job creators: they are motivated by a desire to build a decent society, unlike the capitalist class which only has selfish interests of private profit as their motive. Tell me about the prosperous societies which have no public infrastructure, no public education systems, and no fire, safety, and medical systems, Troy.
Jeff Klinzman September 22, 2012 at 08:35 PM
The word is "drivel," Jack, and if you had read more attentively, you would have comprehended that 28% of all taxpayers pay no federal income tax, but do pay FICA and Medicare, as well as a plethora of state and local taxes. The idea that many conservatives parrot, that half of Americans pay no federal income taxes, and Romney's claim those folks want the federal government to supply them with "entitlements," is simple-minded and easily shown to be unjust. Sorry if I am confusing you with some facts.
Jeff Klinzman September 22, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Stephen, my past experience with Troy is that discussions with him are frutless. I doubt he knows the provenance of any of his ideas, and he is a one-trick pony in his attacks on public employees and public infrastructure. I wish he had bothered to read the David Brooks essay I linked to: unlike Troy, I do read differing perspectives, and I like Brooks precisely because reading his essays forces me to clarify my own ideas. I think Brooks' criticisms of Romney and the GOP carry weight because Brooks is a free-market conservative. I referred to Troy as a "troll" because I have learned that you simply give people like him the last word. He has no interest in any kind of intellectual discussion (again, note the poverty of references to indicate the provenance of his ideas and information), but simply wants to ensure that his right-wing perspective dominates every discussion, regardless of its quality.
Troy Murphy September 22, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Troy, the upper 1% of this country has done exactly what you claim to abhor: they have been the beneficiaries of wealth redistribution, from the bottom of this society to the top. Sorry Jeff but that is just an outright lie. The top earners didn't tax the lower earners, they didn't go into their homes and take from them like you want to do to the wealthy. Bill Gates didn't get rich taking from the poor. You also lie about Romneys wealth. When his father died that money was donated to Brigham Young university. BTW I didn't demonize food stamp recipients I demonized a system that requires no accountability. You misconstrue and twist what conservatives are against. We support taxes for infrastructure, fire safety, police, military, public education and yes even welfare. We just want taxed at the same rate as you and the money spent responsibly. Quit taking my money faster than you take from yourself.
Troy Murphy September 22, 2012 at 11:10 PM
The ironic part about Jeff's comment where he calls me a one trick pony is how hypocritical that comment is. He claims to listen to other ideas and then continually spouts the liberal talking points and how conservatives are to blame. He sites only info that supports his pet ideas. I am at least intellectually honest enough that I don't pretend everyone agrees with me and those who don't are bigots and trolls. As far as the provenance of my ideas they are based on life experience. I have worked as a fry cook carpenter chemist USDA lab technician and now an owner of multiple business I don't attack public employees only the number and whether they are wealth generators. I know my bias and it is clearly free market. Jeff on the other hand accuses those who disagree with him of being trolls bigots and in a previous discussion a racist. I think I prefer my brand of discussion over his
Jack F September 23, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Ouch Jeffery you corrected my word usage. Just one more uneducated member of the masses. You got my understanding. Next time I will write it and word and have one of my slave TA proof it for ya. I meant dribble because that is what comes out of your mouth when your special needs and can't keep your icky (not sure icky is a word but Jeffy will correct it for me if not) saliva from dribbling down your chin when you speak, or in your case write.
Jack F September 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Oh nooooooo Jeffers got me again. Patch please stop him from attacking my freedom to use spelling how I want. It fills in words and I write off the cuff and don't edit my writing. It's a more honest blogg that way. Not cold and calculated like jeffers.
Jack F September 23, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Yep Jeffers is a big got by his own definition above. He hates me. Hater.
Jack F September 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM
He also attacks our spelling and word usage. I guess in the world according to Jeff if you spell bad or are not articulate, your views don't count. I think I will go to my corner and cry. While I am there I will read the dictionary so Jeffers won't keep putting a poor uneducated Pleb down.
Troy Murphy September 23, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I actually prefer your usage, regulated, maybe we could get more government regulation limiting blogs by adjunct english teachers comments only to some obscure corner of the patch where they don't link to anywhere and you have to actively search for the article
Jack F September 23, 2012 at 06:09 AM
iPad auto fill. Relegated regular regulated ..... Tomato tomaaaaato. Klintzman don't care.... He is smart.
Jeff Klinzman September 23, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Rick Santorum spoke the truth as he sees it when he addressed the (Homophobic) Values Voter Summit: that "conservatism" will never have "the elite, smart people on our side." The term "elite" has been turned upside down by Santorum and the GOP: a term which once denigrated the wealthy who controlled the instruments of state for their own purposes now denigrates folks who took the advice of the Horatio Alger types by educating and improving themselves. There are two consequences: as David Brooks noted in the essay I linked above, the GOP is now relying on a (shrinking) mass base of Caucasians who have no more than a high school education. Those folks, increasingly resentful in a country where their lack of post-secondary education limits their opportunities, can be motivated by hatred of people who are more educated than they. Those folks can then be mobilized to serve the political agenda of the real "elite," men and women like Mitt Romney and the wealthy old guard of the GOP, the small number of "country club Republicans." And, as revealed by Mitt's comments to his donors, it's easy to mobilize resentful, low information voters by demonizing people who are just like them. http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/santorum-we-will-never-have-elite-smart-people-our-side
CFBusinessOwner September 23, 2012 at 06:46 PM
+1 Jeff Klinzman Unfortunately no matter how much information you put in front of low information voters they continue to want to bottom feed on such "tasty" morsels like: the president is a Muslim, he wasn't born here, he's a marxist, fill in the "ist" of the day....anything to avoid their basis beliefs: he doesn't look like them and he must have gotten to where he is illegally---how could a black man be smarter than they are? I know I've kicked the hornets nest by writing that but it must be said. Just call me John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. Truth isn't always comfortable.
Jeff Klinzman September 24, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Bravo, CF! Look at how the "Obama's a secet Muslim" argument plays out: you tacitly endorse prejudice against Muslims if you present the simple fact that Obama's not Muslim. Park 51, Murphreesboro TN, half-a-dozen other places have seen concerted opposition to building mosques, a direct rejection of freedom of religion. Let's see, McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone, but no questions about HIS citizenship; Romney's father was born in Mexico, yet none of the GOP base worries about that. Yet, raise the specter of "alien anchor babies," and you actually GOP members of Congress pushing to abolish birthright citizenship. Never mind that Obama's birth was announced in Hawaiian papers, that he has a valid birth certificate, and that Hawaii has a privacy law which prevents any Tom, Dick, or Harry from asking for someone's birth certificate. If he's black, with the middle name Hussein, and the last name of Obama, he must be a furriner. Again, the low-information voters are the activist and mass voting base of the GOP. That's why such pernicious nonsense has polluted American political discourse.
Troy Murphy September 24, 2012 at 04:05 AM
BTW Jeff, it is spelled foreigner, not furriner, I know how much you like to correct Jack F's spelling and usage and I wouldn't want him seeing this without at least an attempt to educate you on the proper spelling.
Jeremy Cobert September 24, 2012 at 11:33 AM
I think the comment section here was actually more enlightening then the article ! way to go !
Keith Best September 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM
What makes Iowans think that a president who spent most of his FIRST TERM as US Senator, and had NO EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE, knows what he is doing??? More people are out of work NOW then when Obama took office. It's time for a change.
Jeff Klinzman September 24, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Keith, you're dreaming if you think Romney has anything to offer except a replay of the same trickle-down policies which produced the depression of '08. Neither Romney nor Ryan have offered any specific policy solutions, just bumper-sticker slogans for the GOP base (folks like you) which they have already wrapped up.


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