Well now. That was… enlightening.
In case you haven’t seen this video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser in Boca Raton a few months back, here it is in full on Mother Jones. Few people get away without a remark from the presidential candidate, but the comment that has gotten the most play is about the “47 percent” who don’t pay income taxes. These people are “victims” that he “doesn’t have to worry about,” characterized as freeloaders on society.
When you dig down into the numbers, that “47 percent” (about 76 million people) is mostly elderly people who don’t have to pay taxes on things like Social Security; the indigent, who have so little, you’d have to be cruel to suggest taking anything more; and members of the military and veterans, who are putting their lives on the line for us. Even among the people who don’t pay income tax, there’s a big chunk (two-thirds) who are paying payroll tax. ABC News offers a full breakdown here. A small sliver of the non-income tax payers are actually wealthy people who managed to rack up enough deductions to get out of paying. Go figure.
MSNBC characterized Romney’s comments as a fundamental misunderstanding of how our society works; the “social compact” of who pays taxes, who doesn’t and why. Republicans who are supposed to be on his side have even ripped him for the speech. “This is not how big leaders talk, it’s how shallow campaign operatives talk…It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one,” wrote columnist Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. Moreover, President Obama reminded us on Letterman last night that the President is meant to represent all of the country.
So today, Romney is trying his darnedest to keep from apologizing for the comments, twisting and turning them into a pretzel of epic proportions in order to show how these thoughtless and awful statements are actually a part of his big economic plan. In a USA Today opinion piece published this morning, he says, “Efforts that promote hard work and personal responsibility over government dependency make America strong. When the economy is growing and Americans are working, everyone involved has a shared sense of achievement, not to mention the basic sense of pride that comes with the paycheck they earn.” Given a little more time (and a lot of help from his campaign, no doubt), he’s gone back to talking about “everyone” and how great everyone is/can be. The column is short on actual policy and long on rah-rah-rahs, but here it is nonetheless.
The question is whether Romney’s campaign is officially sunk. Your thoughts?