Down the memory hole

Romney said 47 percent of the country consists of incorrigible moochers. That’s the claim he should be forced to defend, not the details about who pays income tax.

Instead of apologizing for what Romney said, his campaign and its tame pundits have rushed to the defense of what he didn’t say, or what he wishes he’d said, or what he might have said that would have been true. They’re hoping that the voters don’t focus on what he actually said, to wit:

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 that 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. [snip]
I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

[emphasis added]

In other words:

Obama voters = people who pay no income taxes = people who think they are entitled to be given things by the government = people who cannot be convinced to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

And that applies to 47 percent of the country.

Romney’s attempt to walk things back by saying he wants more people to have jobs with incomes high enough for income tax misses the point.

Speaking where he thought he was only being heard by his rich friends, Romney said that 47 percent of the people he proposes to lead are not merely lazy, entitled moochers expecting other people to take care of them, they’re permanently and hopelessly that way. “Never” is a long time.

Any defense of Romney (e.g., by Althouse), or any news story, that leaves out the line about personal responsibility is (probably deliberately) missing the point. Romney’s last, desperate hope is to make things as if he didn’t say what he actually said.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

5 thoughts on “Down the memory hole”

  1. Be interesting to know if Romney himself was one of those irresponsible people who didn’t pay income taxes, in one of the last ten years. I’m just sayin’.

  2. There have been a lot of good statistical destructions of Romney’s nonsense – Ezra Klein had a particularly good one, if I recall – but maybe we need more personal testimonies. David “Goldy” Goldstein’s account is one such, and worth a look:

    I have been self-employed for much of my adult life, and I freely admit that there were a few years mixed in there in which I did not pay an income tax. But even in my worst years, I never paid the federal government less than 15.3 percent of my earnings, significantly more than the 13.9 percent effective rate Mitt Romney says he paid in 2010.
    I suppose Romney could have used his little fundraising speech to make the case for why my taxes ought to be lower. But he didn’t. He used the opportunity to accuse me and nearly half of all Americans of being deadbeats.

  3. One part of that quote which hasn’t gotten enough attention is the bit about how Those People “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” That is to say, Those People believe that they are entitled to stay alive. Food, shelter, medicine: the nerve! Next they’ll be demanding that the government supply them with dressage horses.

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