Still photo and videotape* courtesy Mother Jones
*Videotape, Part 1 ………………………………………………. *Videotape, Part 2
By Emily Theroux
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. … Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
— Matthew 25: 41-45, The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
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Malingerers, moochers, freeloaders … the ugly, racially charged words roll in with the wholesome manure-reek of Mitt Romney’s imagined heartland, where the bounteous harvest is in, “the 53 percent” pay their taxes, and true patriots don’t take nothin’ from nobody. Unemployed bottom-feeders who don’t want to work for a living — that’s how the “severe conservatives” Mitt emulates have characterized the “least of these,” the poor, sick, hungry, and downtrodden whom Christ taught his followers to care for.
Almost half the American populace “are dependent upon government,” Mitt tells an audience of fellow zillionaires. The objects of his derision are folks who, he asserts, “believe they are victims” or “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing” and other perks of deliberate parasitism on the taxpayers’ dime.
If you voted for Barack Obama for president in the 2008 election, that’s how “Willard of Oz”, as Chris Matthews crowned him, perceives you.
During the months after May 17, when a videotape was surreptitiously recorded of Romney addressing a $150-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., bits and pieces of it surfaced on YouTube without attracting much attention. Then James Carter IV, former President Jimmy Carter’s activist grandson, gave a copy to investigative reporter David Corn, who posted a salient snippet of it on the website of Mother Jones magazine.
Viewers were astonished to hear the GOP candidate speaking in a straightforward but glib and cynical tone of voice — a total departure from the practiced, artificial wheedle he employs on camera or the sanctimonious platitudes he dishes out at campaign rallies. You may notice that he sounds slicker (and, if possible, even more calculating and ruthless) than you previously imagined. After listening for a moment, you realize that this new, no-nonsense tone is something you’ve never heard before: the unaccustomed sound of Mitt Romney telling the truth — to people he doesn’t look down on, about people he does.
“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 it’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. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Mitt thinks his job, I repeat, is “not to worry about those people.” (Shades of Lady Ann, Rafalca the Austrian warmblood, and #YouPeople!) Willard Romney had written off 47 percent of the public — a stupendous number of people to hold in utter contempt — with the sole purpose of pandering to a handful of rich donors. The gobsmacking “tale of the tape” went viral within hours, ricocheting around cyberspace. Two days out, the one-minute video had been viewed 7.1 million times, the second-highest number of YouTube hits ever on a political story. (Katie Couric’s 2008 interview of Sarah Palin topped the list, with 24.4 million views.)
While far-right radio talkers didn’t wait for a cue to defend the standard-bearer they had once conditionally accepted, reviews of Romney’s “performance” by mainstream pols and pundits were withering:
- “A sneering plutocrat” (Jonathan Chait, New York magazine)
- “Thurston Howell Romney” (David Brooks, The New York Times)
- “Arrogant and stupid remarks” (Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard)
- “Not big, not brave, not thoughtfully tackling the issues … An intervention is in order” (Peggy Noonan, WSJ)
- “An increasing problem with him being able to connect with voters” (Mark McKinnon, GOP strategist)
- “The worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that ‘there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe'” (David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter)
- “You don’t win an election by disparaging just about half of the electorate” (Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, on Fox News)
- “Inaccurate, insensitive, almost callous in (his) disregard for the American people ” (Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania)
- “You trashed the very people who are your margin of success” (Chris Matthews, MSNBC)
- “A magnetic moral compass that has no true north” (Alex Wagner, MSNBC)
- “That’s not the way I view the world. … (B)eing on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.” (Scott Brown, GOP senator from Massachusetts, who “grew up in tough circumstances”)
- “(T)he vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be” (Linda McMahon, Connecticut Senate candidate)
- “We’re losing” (Jim Dyke, veteran GOP strategist)
- “This is what it looks like for the wheels to come off” (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC pundit, Rhodes scholar, national treasure)
- “Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism” (Dr. Gregory Prince,** Mormon historian and author)
- “I’d say Romney’s performance will help to determine most of the close Senate contests” (Larry Sabato, University of Virginia political scientist)
- “My feeling is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot” (Barack Obama, President, USA)
Lord Willard writes off people ‘who don’t pay taxes.’ Does he?
Un-freaking-believable! Lord Willard Romney’s blowing off half the nation because of the GOP’s misleading “new orthodoxy,” popular during the Republican primary season, which suggests that 47 percent of Americans “don’t pay any taxes” or don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. The way Romney explained it to what Eddie Murphy once termed a “roomful of rich dummies,” I don’t think even Mitt knew what he meant.
The now-infamous 47 percent statistic (which Mitt mangled into his own inaccurate Obama vote percentage) actually refers to a taxpayer analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, showing that 46.4 percent of American households did not pay federal income tax in 2011. “The households in question consist primarily of the retired, the poor and low-income families with children,” two New York Times reporters explained. “Moreover, they do pay taxes, if not income taxes: Just 8 percent of households do not pay payroll or federal income taxes, discounting the elderly.”
“Many people don’t pay income taxes because they’re so poor they don’t make enough money to be able to pay income taxes,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “But they pay payroll taxes, they pay state taxes, they pay excise taxes. This man apparently feels that if you’re not a part of his social class or you don’t have his economic status, that somehow you’re a parasite.”
Another reason that a larger percentage of people pay less in taxes is that Republican fiscal policies have provided tax incentives to low-income workers — including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit, which enable low earners to offset a portion of their income tax obligation with exemptions similar to the mortgage interest and property tax deductions that benefit middle-class workers.
Erick Erickson, above, of the right-wing blog RedState, angered by the Occupy Wall Street movement, started the "We Are the 53%" Tumblr to provide a site where conservatives could express their views.
Since Obama’s inauguration, however, GOP legislators have become so resentful that they’ve turned against their own policies, including the EITC, originally passed by Gerald Ford and later expanded by Ronald Reagan. This deduction was intended to help “lift people out of poverty” and provide them with an incentive to keep working at tough jobs that paid very little. But when President Obama’s stimulus bill and other tax legislation expanded EITC benefits and extended relief from the “marriage penalty,” Tea Partiers viewed it as providing lazy “moochers” with unfair advantages. (The right-wing “We Are the 53 Percent” movement was founded to express such sentiments, after the Occupy Wall Street movement caught on nationwide.
A final question, after slogging through the videotape: Isn’t Mitt himself one of the 47 percent he dismisses, by his own definition? He doesn’t have a job. (Translation from Republican: He’s a lazy POS.) He pays neither income tax nor payroll tax. (In other words, he’s the paragon of “victimology.”) And because he refuses to release his tax returns, 100 percent of Americans remain in the dark about whether he really pays the measly 15 percent capital gains tax on his investment “income” (already the biggest scam in the annals of tax avoidance — and yet the wannabe Veepster, Paul Ryan, wants to eliminate this loophole altogether!).
As it turns out, CNN Money published a story about this very subject after the “Mittastrophe” tape went viral. “The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011,” Jeanne Sahadi wrote. “Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million.” Mitt Romney admitted to his Boca Raton audience that he is one of them.
Release the tax returns!!!
Colbert: ‘He dropped the R bomb: redistribution. Which is just fancy talk for a black guy’s coming for your stuff’
The Romney campaign has apparently done some tape-sleuthing of its own, digging up another golden oldie: a grainy recording of then-Illinois State Senator Obama, speaking at a 1998 Loyola University conference on Chicago city government. Obama had the misfortune to have uttered the word “redistribution,” albeit in a completely different context from that of the current GOP “Romneyhood” feeding frenzy over the designs of the poor on rich people’s’ “rightful” lucre.
It didn’t matter that Obama was really talking about “fostering marketplace competition” and business innovation, not rampaging serfs pillaging the fortunes of their feudal lords. Mitt’s team pounced anyway, diced and spliced the tape, and excerpted the sliver they wanted from the part might have resonated with the great unwashed 47 percent. Bingo! You stay classy, Romney-O!)
Will the scum-suckers, leeches, and other assorted parasites that Lord Romney so viciously disdained, when surrounded by his “peerage,” buy the new, improved “Moderate Mitt” who came out last night as the candidate of “the 100 percent”? No, if you ask me. Will the wingnut blowhards breaketh wind? Too early to call.
I say let’s Occupy Romneyworld and throw him to the crocodiles circling the sorry carcass of his candidacy in the moat below the castle walls.
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* Click the following links to view Part 1 and Part 2 of the videotape, which was recorded surreptitiously at a May 17 Romney campaign fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. Videotape courtesy Mother Jones.
** “When the news of Mitt Romney’s Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed — but not for its political implications,” wrote Dr. Gregory Prince, Mormon historian and author who knew the candidate personally. “His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is ‘to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.’ My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: ‘Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!'”
In a future column, I’ll discuss the people who actually do receive government checks – and ask why in hell Mitt Romney thinks he has any right to look down his nose at them.