Monday, September 17, 2012

The President of half the people? (updated)

Religious identity in the US.  Data from 
I was going to write a short blog about how annoyed I am at the relentless pandering to Christians expressed by the Republican ticket, including Mormon in chief.

 (Never mind that Mormonism is in many ways not really Christian. Here's an interesting piece from Simon Critchley of the NY Times, discussing the unique "post-Christian" doctrine of the Mormons).

But about 16% of Americans have no religious affiliation, and are the fastest growing group in the religious landscape.

Does Mitt Romney believe that he will be the president of atheists and agnostics too? What about LGBT people?

Then Mother Jones released a video of Romney talking to HIs Kind, the very wealthy donors, and showing utter disdain for nearly half of the American population.

 Forbes calls it Romney Fail: Caught On Video Revealing Extraordinary Contempt For 47 Percent Of Americans:
“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. These are people who pay no income tax.” 
Romney goes on to say; “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” 
So much for the notion of the President of the United States being the president of all the people.
From Tax policy Center
The contempt is breathtaking, isn't it?  The only entitlement on display is Romney's entitlement that he should be president.  (IF you read further, you'll see that he believes that if elected, the economy will improve without him doing anything, just because there's a white guy with money back in the White House.  Baffling.)

Although the implication is that Americans who do not pay income tax are poor brown freeloaders, and Not Like Us.  It's the politics of division--putting the minorities, the gays, the atheists, on the other side.  But just look at the chart to the left.  Romney has gone after his own people--the poorly off whites and elderly who are the base of the Republican party.  He has just called them freeloaders and said he has no interest in them.

The facts are that the majority of Americans pay some kinds of tax (social security, payroll, etc) even if not income tax.  Elderly people don't pay income tax (they don't have jobs).  And further,  those not paying income tax are increasingly those better off--not freeloaders the way Romney means, but taking advantage of other opportunities.  From ABC (my emphasis)
Nontaxable returns from people with income between $75,000 and $100,000 went from 4,025 in 1996 to 476,624 in 2009 — an increase of almost 12,000%. More than 1,400 millionaires didn't pay income taxes in 2009, either.
While we're on the subject of taxes, shouldn't Candidate Romney come clean about his own tax returns?  Or is that only a concern for The Little People?

In any case, there is no longer any pretence that Candidate Romney wants to represent Americans.  No, he just wants to represent the country club set.

Update: David Brooks nails it in.  NAILS it.  David Brooks.
The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own. 
The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency. 
But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own. They shower benefits on their children to give them more opportunities — so they can play travel sports, go on foreign trips and develop more skills.
...[A]s a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.
Did Mitt just throw the election?  We can but hope.


Counterlight said...

Not sure Romney lost the election here, but yes, the contempt is breathtaking. Ta-Nehisi Coates would agree with you about the politics of division in all of this. His is an interesting take on all of this. That so much of the population is now swept into the category of "other" is a kind of left-handed measure of progress. It's the liberal dream of universal enfranchisement in reverse.

dr.primrose said...

Also lots of really rich people pay no income taxes. "The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011. Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million." See here.

IT said...

And of course, it's possible Mitt paid/pays no income tax.