Well, 47% of America, to be accurate.
This is a video of Romney, at what he thought was a private, unrecorded fundraiser:
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 upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
And I mean the president starts off with 48, 49, 4–he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.
I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is to convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
It’s really tempting to refute all the misleading statements and outright lies in Romney’s statement, but I don’t feel like I’ve got the energy (but see the links below).
So, what do you think?
Personally, I’m not surprised. This is exactly what we lefties have always believed Romney was. I admit it’s gratifying to see it caught on video.
But I’m not sure it’ll make a difference to the election. The vast majority of voters have already made up their minds, and it’s unlikely that any Romney voter will be swayed by this. Even if a Republican watches this video and thinks “chee, what an asshat,” that doesn’t mean that they will or should change their vote. Romney may be an asshat, but he’s the asshat who comes closest to supporting the policies Conservatives prefer.
Hell, I think Obama is, in many ways, contemptible, and I’m still likely to vote for him.1
But that’s just how I think. In the clip above, Romney said that 5-10% of voters might vote for either candidate. (To see more videos from the same Romney speech, see Mother Jones). Will finding out that Romney really is an elitist snob who sneers at ordinary Americans make a difference to that 5-10%? If so, Romney may be sunk; there’s not much time left until the election to recover from a setback.
Oh, and this bit (from the same Romney speech) is rich: he joked that if his dad had “been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” Because if history teaches us anything, it’s that white people are seldom elected President compared to other races.
Finally, Romney believes that Romney is magic:
My own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.
I’m sure all the Republicans who have criticized Obama for allegedly thinking too much of himself will leap to criticize Romney’s belief that merely electing Mitt Romney will presto! changeo! improve the economy.
Anyhow, some links and quotes:
- We Are the 47%: The Lousy Math Behind Romney’s Gaffe
- Where Are the 47% of Americans Who Pay No Income Taxes? Nice map here.
- Ezra: “Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. […] Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich.”
- The Right Is Wrong to Pin Obama’s Edge on Welfare State
- Larison: “More than anything else, what makes this video damaging is that it confirms what most Americans already suspect about Romney: he holds at least half the country in contempt, including many of the people that normally vote Republican. It isn’t just that Romney expresses contempt and pity for “anyone who isn’t going to vote for him,” as Barro says. What makes this stand out as exceptionally arrogant is the fact that he clearly has contempt for many of the people who were likely to vote for him.”
- “47 Percent” Vs. “Bitter Clinger” Linked mainly because it has the full “bitter clinger” quote, rather than just five words of it.
- TNC: “One theme in Chris Hayes book Twilight of The Elites is the notion that an elite cut off from the rest of society actually degrades. It comes to think of itself as intrinsically better than the rest of society, that it’s success is a strict matter of providence. Effectively the elite becomes divorced from reality. What is most jarring about Romney’s comments here is that divorce, that sense that Romney’s grasp of America is so thin, that he believes that half of it is dismissible strictly on the grounds of laziness.”
- Economist’s View: Nontaxpayers are Overwhelmingly the Elderly and Students
- Jamelle Bouie: “I’m one of those people who believes government has a responsibility to provide health care, food and housing. Like Romney says, I see these as entitlements—the basics that people need to flourish and work toward their potential. And as the wealthiest nation to ever exist, I believe we have an obligation to provide them, so that we can create the space for individual achievement. Romney favors a world where taxes are low and businesses are freed from social obligation. I prefer one where the sick can have care, the poor can have food, and the homeless have shelter. It’s why—at a minimum—I support Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and assistance programs for food and housing.”
- Of course, it’s not just how people vote, but how the volunteers doing the Get Out The Vote work react. If this sort of thing reduces enthusiasm for Romney among his base, that could really hurt him. But I think the Conservative base largely agrees with Romney. [↩]