Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney Can't Buy Our Votes

A lot has been made of Romney’s 47% remarks, surreptitiously recorded while he spoke to wealthy donors in Florida about the difficulty of getting Obama supporters to vote for him. And rightly so—he said that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax “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… my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In fact, many have pointed out, the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income tax are mostly the elderly and working people who don’t earn enough to reach the threshold of paying income taxes, though they pay Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes, commonly known as payroll taxes. It’s the way our tax system is structured, to encourage people to work rather than tax them back into deeper poverty at the lowest income levels. It’s the way Bill Clinton, with cooperation from Republicans, insisted the tax code be restructured in “Welfare to Work” legislation. Many of those who do not pay federal income tax are not Obama supporters, or at least they weren’t before Mitt spoke so disparagingly of them.

What every pundit I’ve heard has overlooked is what Romney was actually trying to communicate to his rich friends: “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.” In other words, the main reason Romney believes people will vote for him is to save money on taxes. He reveals another truth: Republicans are for low taxes because that buys votes, not because, as they claim, lowering taxes creates jobs (there are better ways to stimulate job growth). Romney is saying they can’t buy the votes of Obama supporters because, he claims, most Obama supporters don’t pay income taxes, which he says he’d lower.

Really? Does Mitt Romney believe, do Republicans believe that Americans base their votes solely on how much money they think the winner will save them on their tax bill? Well, I pay plenty of income tax, and Mitt, to paraphrase the Beatles song; I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy my vote.

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