Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is under fire for remarks he made at a fundraiser about the poor, taxes and entitlements.

We are the 47 percent

September 21, 2012

Mitt Romney doesn’t care about half the country.

I refer of course to earlier this week, when a video of a $50,000 a plate Romney fundraiser hit the mainstream media. In it, Mitt Romney doesn’t know he’s being filmed — leading to some very interesting statements from the Republican presidential nominee.

For instance, he jokes that if his father had “been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this.” He also says that, “there’s just no way” we can have peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He tells his donors that his campaign is using his wife Ann, “sparingly right now so that people don’t get tired of her.”

The most telling admission from Romney is he doesn’t really care about 47 percent of Americans. According to Romney, “These are people who pay no income tax.” They are people “dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

Who are these 47 percent? Households that make under $26,400. Households with children that make less than $45,000. Ten percent are the elderly. They’re the old, the poor and students. I’m a voter who doesn’t pay income tax, and I don’t think I’m a victim. I do think I’m entitled to health care, food and housing. Those are human rights.

Other people who don’t pay income tax: U.S. soldiers in combat. Apparently, Romney doesn’t care about them either.

Romney continues in the video, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Yes, Mitt Romney. You will never convince me I should care for my life because apparently you’re not worried about me or my fellow students. Or the poor. Or soldiers. Or the elderly. We’re just “victims.”

For us students, it’s not like we pay payroll taxes on our summer and part-time jobs or anything. Of these people who don’t pay income tax, more than half pay payroll taxes for social security. That’s not “taking personal responsibility.” That’s taking responsibility for other people like seniors — people Mitt Romney isn’t worried about.

Romney said these remarks in the context of analyzing the election. According to him, “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” I don’t think the election is that simple, but I do think it’s simple logic that if you insult 47 percent of the voting population, your chances at election get a lot worse.

The fundraisers chime in occasionally. At one point, when Romney says he’s “not really well known among the American public,” one woman remarks, “You’re known as a rich boy.” One responds to Romney talking about how Republicans aren’t winning Hispanic voters by booming “Rubio” in reference to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Romney mocks illegal immigrants by saying, “Unless, of course, you have no skill or experience, in which case you’re welcome to cross the border and stay here for the rest of your life,” at which his fundraisers laugh at the plight of immigrants.

Many of Romney’s comments in the video are disturbing, but the 47 percent comment sticks out. It says that Romney doesn’t think it’s his “job” to worry about almost half of America. Contrast this view to Barack Obama’s after his 2008 election. “To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices,” Obama said. “I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”

A poll by Gallup says that 29 percent of independent voters surveyed said the video would make them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney. Having watched the full video myself, I’m not surprised.

Photo: Mitt Romney a rally in Paradise Valley, AZ in December 2011.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared as an opinion column in The Maneater on September 21, 2012.

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