Tag Archives: 47%

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

19 Sep

I’m sort of sick of talking about Mitt Romney because, you know, Buffalo. But the Presidential campaign has become that car wreck you rubberneck on the 33. The three swing states Mitt has to win to have a chance of winning this thing are Ohio, Virginia and Florida, right? Well, a WaPo poll has Mitt trailing Obama -8 in Virginia.  Not only that, but Mitt’s entire campaign has boiled down to – hey, disillusioned Obama ’08 voters, not so excited anymore? Vote for Mitt!  That WaPo poll in Virginia reveals that 61% of likely Obama voters are “very enthusiastic” about the incumbent; only 45% of Romney voters are “very enthusiastic” .  It gets better, because the conservative commentariat’s hand-wringing has become so vigorous and anxious that they are warning that Romney isn’t just losing  a sure thing, but he’s taking the entire conservative movement down with him.  And his campaign is currently $11 million in debt

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court remanded a case involving that state’s proposed voter ID/disenfranchisement law. A lower court had upheld the statute, but the state’s highest court demanded that the lower court 

… block the law unless Pennsylvania can prove it is currently providing “liberal access” to photo identification cards and that there “will be no voter disenfranchisement” on Election Day. The two dissenters opposed the voter ID law and wanted the Supreme Court to issue an injunction itself.

The ruling said there was a “disconnect” between what the law prescribes and how it was actually being implemented. It said an “ambitious effort” to implement identification procedures in a short timeframe “has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch.”

Voter ID is an answer to a question no one asked – actual cases of voter fraud are almost non-existent, and the actual effect of these statutes is to disenfranchise the poor and elderly – the 47% about whom Mr. Romney so famously spoke at a $50,000/plate fundraiser in Boca Raton in May. 

Incidentally, click here (part 1) and here (part 2) if you’d like to see the complete, uncensored Romney remarks – where he promises to take advantage of things like the storming of the Benghazi consulate, and that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so intractable that, why bother? Just kick the can down the road. (That’s “leadership”, folks.) 

Romney went on Fox News yesterday and accused Obama of having a hidden video problem, trotting out a video of then-State Senator Obama in 1998 explaining that he likes the fact that America’s taxation policies are redistributive. McCain did it in 2008, and it went nowhere. Taxes are by their very nature redistributive – they take money through taxes to pay for other things, sometimes social welfare safety net programs. Society has deemed it more desirable to, e.g., provide food stamps rather than revert to a Dickensian nightmare of poor kids stealing pocketwatches for Mr. Fagin. 

No one knows why Romney wants to run against 1998 Obama instead of 2012 Obama, except that it allows him to paint Obama as a socialist. Because even though Obama’s policies are fundamentally centrist and comport with mainstream Democratic policy, because of his name and race, it’s quite easy to paint him as a foreign “other”. Honestly? It’s racist, and we shouldn’t pussyfoot around that fact. 

But if Mitt Romney really wants to compare and contrast videos 1990s videos with Barack Obama, then that’d be fun

Finally, part of the problem in the 27th Congressional District race is that Chris Collins is trying to hop on the Romney bandwagon, unaware of just how much he resembles the out-of-touch, unlikeable Presidential candidate. He has repeatedly stated that he supported the Ryan budget that would have turned Medicare into a complicated voucher program, costing seniors more, and that the Ryan budget in fact, “didn’t go far enough”. So, it must come as a worry to seniors because Collins says his first order of business would be to repeal Obamacare. But Obamacare is in the process of eliminating the Medicare “donut hole”. which saddles many seniors with huge bills for medication

Seniors whose annual drug costs surpassed $2,830 found themselves paying the rest of their bills in total until they hit an out-of-pocket limit of $4,550. At that point “catastrophic coverage” kicks in, and the government pays 95 percent of the costs.

Someday, we’ll reset the public debate over health insurance and come to the realization that expansion of Medicare to all Americans, with an efficient single-payer program so that people don’t ever see a bill for anything ever, so that their Medicare is paid for through payroll taxes (and is therefore not something for nothing),  and that the very rich retain their opportunity to seek cancer treatments in Switzerland (a country with a universal insurance mandate) complete with LearJet transportation. Someday we’ll reset the debate to question why we agonize over coverage gaps, why our employers spend so much money and effort choosing between crappy insurance plans that cost a fortune. Someday we’ll reset the debate to compare the actual cost of what we pay for costly, inefficient, bureaucrat-heavy private insurance versus the actual cost of what we’d all pay to expand Medicare to everybody. 
You know, the debate we’ve been having essentially since the end of World War II, and which every other industrialized, free market capitalist, pluralist nation-state has figured out generations ago. 


Romney vs. the 47%

18 Sep

1. David Frum is the Tweeter to watch this campaign season. 

2. Mitt Romney began running against the press last week; he’s running against half of America today.

It was supposed to be a campaign reboot. But instead, Mitt Romney had a bad day. What a day Mitt had. Sad. Mitt. Bad. Had. 

The day started with a Politico article detailing what can best – and most charitably – be described as complete and utter disarray within his campaign apparatus.

For a guy running on his management bona fides, he’s running the worst national campaign I can remember. Heavy on ideology – light on details, the Romney campaign is now suffering through the type of postmortem interviews that usually happen after they lose on election day. (It was then that all the stories about just how awful Sarah Palin was came out).  David Frum Tweeted: 

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It got worse. 

Late yesterday, former Bush aide and current sane conservative David Frum Tweeted that, “If you’re not running for president of all the country, you won’t be elected president of any of it.”

He was writing in response to a blockbuster series of videos that were clandestinely recorded during a big-money fundraiser that was held in Boca Raton on May 17th, where Romney spoke. What it revealed was the real Mitt Romney – the guy who is in his element and doesn’t feel constrained by politeness, inclusiveness, or basic political correctness – some pretty key qualities needed in a viable candidate in a general election for President of the United States. 

In a surprising nod to the theories of horrible person Ayn Rand, Romney broke down the American electorate into producers and moochers;  that 47% of Americans don’t pay any taxes, don’t work, take no personal responsibility and enjoy being dependent on government for all needs. Why, they even feel entitled to receive health care! Can you believe it?! Romney concluded that he was never going to convince these people to vote for him, so he wasn’t running to convince them. He even added – astoundingly – that they pay no income tax and had no sense of personal responsibility. Instead, he explained, he was running for the 5 – 10% of the electorate that are “thoughtful” “independents” who voted for Obama but are disappointed in him – pretty much the theme of Romney’s convention speech. 

Romney painted himself into a corner by affixing a percentage to that number. He has no wiggle room – he can’t say, “oh, I was talking about a small population that just lives off of public assistance” – he indicted almost fully half of the American population for being do-nothing takers and moochers. That’s astonishing

On the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, you’re not just the 99%, you may also be the 47%. 

Coincidentally, 47% is how many people in Michigan plan on voting for Obama versus 37% for “native son” Romney. 

The Atlantic broke down and identified the 47%:

In 2011, 47% of Americans paid no federal income taxes. Within that group, two-thirds still pay payroll taxes. The rest are almost all either (a) old and retired folks collecting Social Security or (b) households earning less than $20,000. Overall, four out of five households not owing federal income tax earn less than $30,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Here’s another, slightly wonkier, way to think about the 47%. Divide the group into two halves. The first half is made tax-free by credits and exemptions, the vast majority of which go to senior citizens and children of the working poor. The half that you’re left with is so poor, they wouldn’t owe federal income taxes even if there were zero tax expenditures.

There are some not-so-poor outliers, like the 7,000 millionaires who paid no federal income taxes in 2011. But for the most part, when you hear “The 47%” you should think “old retired folks and poor working families.” …

…Mitt Romney’s off-the-record comments were inelegant. But they were also part of a long trend of Republicans attacking the 47% as lazy, or playing by a different set of rules, or not fully contributing to the country. Michele Bachmann went after the non-payers. So did Rick Santorum. And Sen. John Cornyn.

The 47% aren’t lucky ducks cheating the system. They’re mostly poor working families getting pilloried by the political party that wrote the rules they’re following. If the 47% are the monster here, then Republicans helped play the role of Dr. Frankenstein. “Non-payers” have grown in the last 30 years because of marginal tax rate cuts and credits like the EITC passed under Republican presidents and continued by both parties in Congress.

It would be one thing to ask poor working families to pay higher taxes if Republicans were trying to raise money to improve government services. Quite the opposite, Romney’s tax plan would, if passed, either reduce revenue or come out neutral by raising taxes on upper-middle class families. Meanwhile, his budget would gruesomely gut Medicaid and income-support programs below their projected 2020 levels.

The working poor families and elderly people who make up the 47% also tend to live in the deep South, in predominately red states: 

But now, remember that Mr. Romney has repeatedly refused to release more than (a) a partial, incomplete 2010 income tax return; and (b) an estimate for 2011 income taxes. He will not release any more taxes.  Here’s a guy who wanted pretty desperately to change the subject on his own taxes – and thanks to a press that’s sensitive about being called “liberal”, he was largely successful. Yet here he opened the door for everyone to re-examine his own tax situation.

When you factor in the payroll taxes that the working poor automatically pay every pay period, the actual figure for Americans who pay “no income tax” is reduced to about 18%

…according to the Tax Policy Center, more than 60% of those non-income tax paying households did pay federal payroll taxes—meaning Social Security and Medicare taxes.  (Considering all Americans households, including those that owed income tax, 62% paid more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes.)

What of the 18.1% of U.S. households that paid neither income nor payroll taxes?  More than half of them were headed by a senior–in other words, by someone who paid payroll taxes and likely some income taxes too, in the past.  (No, the amount the elderly have paid in does not cover the cost of the Medicare  benefits they are now getting. And that is true despite the fact that in a Romney TV adattacking Obamacare’s cuts to the growth in Medicare spending, an announcer seems to suggest otherwise, intoning:  “You paid into Medicare for years, every paycheck…. So now the money you paid for your guaranteed healthcare Is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”)

Of course, it goes without saying, that those  folks who aren’t paying federal taxes are almost all paying state and local taxes—state sales taxes, real estate taxes (either on their homes or built into their rents) and possibly state income taxes too, since those taxes tend to exempt fewer poor families than does the federal income tax.  If they buy gasoline, liquor or tobacco, or have telephones, they’re also feeding the federal purse.

The tax deadbeat thinks half of Americans are tax deadbeats who aren’t worth fighting for. We’ve become a country where the millionaires and billionaires express envy for the extremely poor. This is evidence of madness. 

Here are the videos.