By Bob Cesca: The clandestine video footage of Mitt Romney telling wealthy donors that nearly half the nation is composed of freeloaders, layabouts and welfare queens isn't actually part of the recent hard right turn by the Romney campaign. This is how Romney really thinks. He really believes that reaching out to half the country is a waste of time because they -- we -- would rather collect our Obama Bucks while regular working stiffs like Mitt Romney pay all the bills.
How do we know this? The video was recorded at right-wing financier Marc Leder back on May 17, 2012, long before Limbaugh, Ingraham and others demanded that Romney, shall we say, service the base. And that he did. Romney turned hard right last week and careened into a gigantic dump truck filled with crapola, Biff Tannen style. But the hidden-camera video shows that Romney had embraced "severely conservative" talking points five months ago, and with frank language that went far beyond any of his public statements during the primary campaign.
Regardless, this is when things will get really crazy.
It's conceivable that Romney will continue his desperate move to right by actually embracing his 47% speech at Marc Leder's house. In a brief Q&A session with the press Monday evening, Romney said his video remarks weren't "elegantly" worded but that it's the "the same message" he delivers in public. No sign of backing away from the substance of what he said, just the way he said it.
The base is already falling in line with its ridiculous claims, and, let's be honest, much of what Romney said about government-dependence and the repeatedly debunked claim that Americans wantonly don't pay taxes and therefore leech off the taxes paid by the other half is absolutely far-right dogma by rote. Allahpundit, a right-wing blogger, thought Romney's bizarre joke about doing better in the polls if he was Latino was totally accurate. "The second video is of Romney joking that he’d have a better chance at being elected if he was Latino, which is almost certainly true," he wrote.
Personally, I find it hysterical that Mitt Romney went down the "47% of Americans don't pay taxes" road and highlighted how they're all Obama voters. Interesting because I voted for the president in 2008, and there are likely a few years when I paid a higher effective tax rate than Mitt Romney even though I earned significantly less money than he did (big understatement). I've certainly paid more than 13% for more than a few years. But this is all a moot point because, firstly, Romney hasn't released most of his tax returns so we don't know exactly what he's paid. Maybe he, too, paid zero taxes during those years and is actively hiding his "government dependence" from the public.
Fact: the 47% number comes from 2009 -- ground zero for the recession when nearly six million people lost their jobs. The year before, around 4 million jobs were lost. Unemployed Americans typically don't have a huge tax burden. Furthermore...
According to the Tax Policy Center, provisions of the tax code that exempt subsistence levels of income from income taxes — the standard deduction, personal exemption, and dependent exemption — are the reason for about half of the tax filers who owe no income tax. Another large group of filers pays no income tax because its members are elderly and benefit from such features of the code as the non-taxation of some Social Security benefits. The tax credit for children and the earned-income tax credit, an effort to boost the pay of low-income workers, wipe out income-tax liability for other taxpayers. Those credits are “refundable,” meaning that beneficiaries can get money on top of paying no income tax. Other provisions of the code account for the rest of the 47 percent: education credits, the non-taxation of welfare payments, itemized deductions, and so on.
Yeah, all those senior citizens and people who were sacked due to a massive recession caused by Reaganomics are such lazy bastards. By the way, I grabbed the above paragraph from a far-left website called The National Review (kidding, of course). But it's not Mitt Romney's job "to worry about those people" -- the people who took the standard deduction and the home mortgage deduction, say nothing of the millions who were fired in the recession. That's what he said in one of the videos. It's not his job to worry about "those people." Because they're inexplicably "dependent upon government," they "believe that they are victims," they "believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."
I wonder if Mitt Romney will worry about this category of non-payers:
Surprisingly, a not insignificant number of those who are clearly well off are also among the “lucky duckies.” There are 78,000 tax filers with incomes of $211,000 to $533,000 who will pay no federal income taxes this year. Even more amazingly, there are 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million with zero income tax liability, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million with the same federal income tax liability as most of those with incomes barely above the poverty level.
That's also from a very liberal source named Bruce Bartlett (kidding about the liberal thing, again).
And what about the non-payers on a state-by-state basis:
Hmm. The red states are host to more people in the 47% category than anywhere else in the nation. Interesting. Romney's not "worried" about the red states, either?
While we're here, I just thought I'd note a big picture observation: aren't Republicans supposed to be in favor of paying the lowest possible tax burden?
The truth is, almost every American pays taxes in some form another, be they payroll taxes, sales tax, state income tax and so forth. So the claim that 47% of Americans flat-out don't pay taxes is a big lie. Not surprising coming from Mitt Romney who's proved himself to be a universally gifted liar, especially when it means scoring some deep tongue action with Erick Erickson and Rush Limbaugh.
Meanwhile, the 47% remarks have overshadowed the segment of the video in which Romney describes touring a factory he purchased in China. Referring to this place as anything other than a brutal sweatshop is completely delusional. In Romney's own words:
When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. They were saving for potentially becoming married. And they work in these huge factories, they made various small appliances. And as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10 rooms. And the rooms, they had 12 girls per room, three bunk beds on top of each other. You’ve seen, you’ve seen them? And around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And we said gosh, I can’t believe that you, you know, keep these girls in. And they said, no, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in. Because people want so badly to work in this factory that we have to keep them out.
Gosh, indeed! On top of the fact that he owned a nightmarish hellhole like this, he only really seemed to be concerned with the barbed wire fence surrounding it. Someone needs to ask Romney over and over again whether he shut down the factory due to the obviously deplorable, exploitative conditions. And when they're done asking him about that, they need to ask him why he didn't buy a factory in the U.S. and why he didn't hire, say, 20,000 Americans who weren't paying income taxes because they didn't have a job. We know the answer, of course, but I think we should hear it from Romney who promised to create 12 million American jobs.
So the meltdown of the Romney/Ryan campaign continues in earnest. Thank goodness all those Republican legislatures passed Voter ID laws to handicap Romney's ineptitude otherwise he'd be careening towards a very painful November.