Editorial: Mitt Romney wrong about the 47%
In one leaked video, Mitt Romney showed that, at least as of now, he does not understand what it's going to take to heal this nation's economy, and proved he does not understand what's in the hearts and minds of our people.
He painted the unfortunate as greedy losers and millions of struggling citizens as slackers. He was wrong in his facts, false in his insinuations and mistaken in believing his cynicism would be heard only by those $50,000-per-dinner-plate donors he imagined shared it.
At a fundraiser in May, Romney said 47 percent of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama because they are people who "are dependent on 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." Then he said, "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
He's wrong. The vast majority of poor and lower middle-class Americans hope to become more successful, pay more taxes, buy nicer things and better educate and shelter their children. And it's a good thing for business owners and corporations that they do. For Romney to say "my job is not to worry about those people" isn't just cruel, it's foolish. Whoever wins the White House must make enriching and empowering this floundering half of the nation his top priority. For America to prosper, they must succeed.
For the economy to rebound, the bottom half of society must earn enough to buy the goods and services corporations sell. That Romney fails to understand this is the worst indictment of his supposed business expertise, and his sense of who Americans are and how they feel.
Three-fifths of the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes do kick in payroll taxes. They're not freeloaders, they have jobs. They're just the working poor. Disabled military heroes often don't pay income tax. Many college students who work part time don't either.
And more than one-fifth of the citizens Romney is describing are the retired and elderly. Many of them are, in fact, committed Republicans, not Obama supporters. Romney portrayed them as freeloaders who mindlessly vote Democratic, and he made no effort to back off when asked about his statements later.
Are there any Americans with entitlement mentalities? Sure. Is that true of the 47 percent, or all who will vote for Obama? No.
The Romney campaign should be about presenting a detailed, conservative plan to get the U.S. economy moving, simplifying its tax code and putting its people on the path to greater prosperity. Conservatism can, and in the past has, offered such solutions.
What Romney has presented instead is a detail-free campaign featuring platitudes and public-relations catastrophes in equal measure and no serious plans. This video -- and what it reveals about the candidate -- is simply the biggest, most recent mishap.