Favorite

Lyons: About those 47 percent 

click to enlarge Mitt Romney image

When Mitt Romney came to Little Rock a while back for one of those $50,000 per couple fund-raisers where he pretends to tell plutocrats what he really thinks, he acted more like somebody in the Federal Witness Protection Program than a presidential candidate.

Arriving in a limo directly from the airport, Romney came and went through the back entrance of the city's most expensive hotel — avoiding supporters and protesters clustered outside. I was amazed at the time. Given the state's fiercely egalitarian mindset, no Arkansas politician would have risked appearing so disdainful of ordinary voters.

The Queen of England, for heaven's sake, would have walked a rope line and chatted up her subjects. Not Mitt. The GOP nominee took no questions from local reporters, shook no hands, and kissed no babies. He only kissed, we now learn courtesy of a leaked videotape of him speaking to a similarly well-heeled gathering in Florida, the posteriors of his fellow swells.

To Mitt Romney, see, your human worth is directly proportional to the size of your bank account — regardless of where that account is located. Boston, Manhattan, Bermuda, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands; Mitt's easy like that. It's why he feels so comfortable running around the country ignoring peasants and begging wealthy people for cash to finance his ambitions.

So anyway, there he was at the Boca Raton estate of an equity fund tycoon otherwise known for being part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, and for throwing bacchanalian parties with "scantily-clad" Russian dancing girls. (Immigrants work cheap.) Responding to a question about how he planned to win in November, Romney momentarily lost confidence.

"I had the most absurd nightmare," he admitted. "I was poor and no one liked me. I lost my job, I lost my house, Penelope hated me and it was all because of this terrible, awful Negro."

Oops! My bad. That was actually Louis Winthorpe III, the stuffed shirt with a trust fund played by Dan Ackroyd in the comedy "Trading Places." The terrible Negro was Eddie Murphy, not Barack Obama.

But seriously, confident that nobody in Florida could hear but his fellow swells and the kitchen help, Romney described Democratic voters with a disdain bordering upon contempt. Because so many media outlets have resorted to paraphrase to spare your tender feelings, it's worth quoting at length:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said. "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.

"These are people who pay no income tax," he added. "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Coming from a guy who probably couldn't change a flat tire, this is rich. Never mind that Republicans wrote the current income tax code. Nor that President George W. Bush used to make a big deal out of relieving the income tax burden of low income Americans. Romney's contemptuous view of upwards of half the working people in the United States as deadbeats, layabouts and moochers should get your attention.

Because the odds are that either you or somebody you love fits the description. Dependent on government? If you're retired and collecting Social Security and Medicare, that means you. Such individuals account for roughly one quarter of non-income tax payers.   

Another 60 percent, according to the Tax Policy Foundation, are working people who simply don't earn enough to pay federal income taxes. But they do remit Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes amounting to 15.3% of their salaries — more than the 13.9% paid by Romney himself, on the one tax return he's condescended to release.

"So 83 percent of those not paying federal income taxes are either working and paying payroll taxes or they're elderly and Romney is promising to protect their benefits because they've earned them," summarizes Ezra Klein in his Washington Post blog. "The remainder, by and large, aren't paying federal income or payroll taxes because they're unemployed."

In the New York Times, Paul Krugman links to data showing that more than 80% of Americans do pay federal income and payroll taxes for the majority of their working lives.

Got that? The vast majority of working Americans — including a many enlisted military personnel — pay a higher federal tax rate than Mitt Romney, and have done for most of their lives. Republicans and Democrats alike; black, white and everybody else.

It's hard to say what's more astonishing: the arrogance, the hypocrisy, the petulance, or the naked, unashamed greed.  

But this is exactly how they talk, guys like Mitt Romney, when they think that only members of the club can hear. 

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Mitt Romeny

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • GOP contempt

    Sometimes it's hard to be cynical enough about the current course of American politics. Astonishing, yet not at all surprising. That was my immediate reaction to the news — largely ignored by national print and broadcast media — that the Trump administration refused to ask Congress for one thin dime of disaster funding in the wake of Northern California's devastating wildfires.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
    • Dec 14, 2017
  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • GOP contempt

    Sometimes it's hard to be cynical enough about the current course of American politics. Astonishing, yet not at all surprising. That was my immediate reaction to the news — largely ignored by national print and broadcast media — that the Trump administration refused to ask Congress for one thin dime of disaster funding in the wake of Northern California's devastating wildfires.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Viewed

  • Gratitude

    Now, more than ever, I find myself thankful for those who resist. Those who remind us of our higher common values. The fact-checkers and truth-tellers. Those who build bridges in communities instead of walls to segregate. The ones who stand up and speak out against injustice.
  • A difference

    How low can a columnist go? On evidence, nowhere near as low as the president of the United States. I'd intended to highlight certain ironies in the career of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The self-anointed moral arbiter of the Senate began her career as a tobacco company lawyer — that is, somebody ill-suited to demand absolute purity of anybody, much less Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
  • Money talks

    Democratic candidates face a dilemma in Arkansas. To take on the GOP members who are firmly entrenched in the state Legislature and Congress, they will need lots of money and lots of votes. The easiest way to get more votes is to spend more money. Obscene amounts of money. And thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and President Trump's judicial appointments, this will be our reality for a long time. The six Republicans who make up our congressional delegation have stopped pretending to care about their constituents. They vote in line with the interests of big corporations and lobbyists. They know what side their bread is buttered on.
  • Silly acts, good law

    It was unavoidable that the struggle by sexual minorities to gain the equal treatment that the Constitution promises them would devolve into silliness and that the majestic courts of the land would have to get their dignity sullied in order to resolve the issues.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A difference

    • History is likely to move with light speed in concluding that in late 2017 society…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: A difference

    • Gillibrand is a tough chick, and she knows she is a political whore, like 95%…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation