Romney’s Freeloading 47

Surreptitiously recorded video of Mitt Romney addressing wealthy supporters at the Boca Raton home of controversial private equity manager Marc Leder, as most of you probably know by now, was made public yesterday afternoon by David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine. Recorded on May 17, the video shows the ruggedly handsome Republican candidate speaking candidly about the 47% of Americans who, in his opinion, cannot be swayed from their support of Obama. These people, Romney tells his supporters, who paid $50,000 each for the privilege of meeting him, are freeloaders who perceive themselves as victims, take no responsibility for their own lives, contribute nothing in the way of taxes, and expect the government to provide for their every need. Here are Romney’s exact words, followed by the video.

“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 that’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 is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The comment is fucked up on a number of different levels, most of which have been outlined in exhaustive detail in the press today. The thing I find most interesting is the fact that a good number of these useless bags of shit to whom Romney refers, are in fact his supporters… Before we get into that, though, let’s look at that number – 47%.

Is it true that 47% of American households pay no taxes? Yes and no. While 47% of American households pay no federal income tax, that doesn’t mean that they don’t pay taxes. Three-fifths of those who comprise the Freeloading 47, as I like to call them, do in fact work, and pay payroll tax. It just so happens, that, because they earn so little, they qualify for programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which zeros out their federal tax obligations. (Last year, the income level at which a family of four would begin paying taxes was $26,400.) It should be noted that the Earned Income Tax Credit has been supported by Republican presidents since Reagan, as, in theory, it incentivizes Americans to work, as opposed to just collecting welfare. Romney, apparently either didn’t understand this at the time he made his statement, or was being purposefully dishonest to his donors – leading them to believe that a full 47% of Americans are on the government dole… As for the remaining two-fifths of this Freeloading 47, roughly half are retired, after having worked, and paid taxes, for a majority of their lives.

Oh, and it’s probably worth noting that payroll taxes in the United States are extremely regressive, which means that, relatively speaking, they hit poorer households harder than the do wealthy ones. So, not only are these perceived freeloaders actually paying taxes to the federal government, but they’re doing so at levels that impact them more adversely than the wealthy individuals for whom they work.

Here, thanks to NPR, is a breakdown of Romney’s Freeloading 47.

It’s just speculation at this point, but I’m inclined to think, given the anecdotal information I’ve collected over the past few years, that some percentage of those comprising the 47%, contrary to what Romney may have told his wealthy supporters in Florida, had been planning to vote for him. At least one would expect that not every elderly white retiree from the deep south would be voting for Obama… Oh, and it’s also true that most of the states with the greatest concentration of non-federal income tax-paying individuals, also tend to vote Republican. And, here, in case you don’t believe me about that, is another graphic.

So, it would seem that Romney has essentially come out and called a good portion of his base, lazy, Obama-loving moochers, who, in spite of their libertarian rhetoric, are just worthless government dependents… And, to make matters worse, he may even be one of them himself. As we haven’t seen his tax returns, we can’t be certain, but there’s a good chance that, after the market collapse of 2008, Romney was among the Freeloading 47 who paid nothing in federal income tax… Here a clip from The Atlantic.

…But there’s another group of people who don’t pay federal income taxes. That’s people who have had a bad year. Some of them have lost their jobs. Some of them have lost money on investments. In either case, they don’t have much, or any, income to tax. And that brings us to Romney and 2009. As Joshua Green of Businesweek has speculated, it’s possible that Romney suffered big enough losses during the 2008 market crash that he zeroed out his 2009 federal income tax liability. Of course, Romney has claimed that he never paid less than a 13 percent effective federal rate the last decade… but he refuses to release any tax returns from before 2010. That’s not to say that Romney is necessarily lying, just that we have no way to check. Consider that six of the top 400 tax filers — a group making nearly ten times as much as Romney — paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2009. It’s certainly plausible that Romney was a member of the 47 percent in 2009…

A very desperate looking Romney, trying to get in front of this mess, called a press conference this afternoon, but the damage had already been done. His comments were already all over the web, and the Obama campaign’s rapid response team had already responded.

I suppose anything could happen between now and the election. Israel could attack Iran, or someone could release an even more grotesque caricature of Mohammed, inciting yet another wave of Muslim rage. Romney could somehow manage to bounce back. I suspect, however, that it’s done. And I don’t say that just because of this most recent gaffe. I say it because the money’s drying up. And I think that’s the big story here. The Romney campaign, as of today, having borrowed $20 million in August, is $11 million in debt. And I don’t see anyone coming forward at this point to contribute to what more and more people are seeing as a losing cause. As it looks as though the Senate could go either way, I suspect that’s the direction in which the big money will begin to flow this week. And, along with the money, I think Romney’s team will begin to transition away as well, as they try to distance themselves from the sinking ship… Actually, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if we learned, at some point in the future, that the Mother Jones video was shot by someone on Mitt’s campaign, who chose to share it now in order to divert attention away from how the campaign was run, and onto the candidate himself. People have been known to do stranger things to protect their careers.

update: Jon Stewart came out last night, blasting Romney on his comments concerning the 47%, and bringing up the fact, in the process, that Romney’s father was on welfare when he first came to this country from Mexico.

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  1. Edward
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    In the context of campaign, I know when he means when he says “My job is is not to worry about those people,” but, damn, that doesn’t come across well at all.

  2. anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    The thing is, most of the working poor and elderly supporters of Romney don’t identify as the 47% that he’s talking about, even though they clearly are. They don’t see themselves as parasites. As a result, I don’t think this will hurt him too much in the polls right now. Where it will hurt him, however, is in the pocketbook. No one is enthusiastic about his chances at this point. They’d rather throw their money at Pete Hoekstra, and his ilk, in hopes of taking back the Senate.

  3. EOS
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    I think you got the title wrong. The freeloading 47 are Obama’s, not Romney’s.

  4. anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Can you read, EOS?

  5. EOS
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Yep. Romney was at a private campaign rally, describing how his campaign will target the 53% that are receptive to his message. It’s comparable to Obama stating that his campaign will ignore the Tea Party and Conservatives.

  6. Sullivan
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    You do realize, EOS, that a good percentage of that 47% identify as Republicans, and that it’s not just Democrats that don’t pay taxes, right? Can you see the map that Mark shared? Do you understand it? It shows that the redder a state is, the less likely the people that live in it pay federal income taxes.

  7. Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    You should be happy EOS, Mit Romney said in a nutshell what you’ve been saying on this blog for years.

  8. EOS
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    His words were, “the 47% that cannot be swayed from their support of Obama”. Essentially he’s saying that his campaign is targeting the independents and those that haven’t yet made up their minds. A red state can have 51% republican votes while 47% of its population vote Democratic and don’t pay taxes. I don’t think that all freeloaders are Democratic – just the majority. This whole charade is a non-issue that shows how desperate the Obama campaign is.

  9. Knox
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    As no one done it yet, I’ll turn over the race card. This, as I see it, is Mitt Romney telling a group of rich white people that lazy dark skinned people will vote for Obama regardless of how good a candidate he might be. This is Romney telling white people that they need to give generously to his campaign because, if the don’t help him reach those few remaining swing voters, America will turn into a bubbling cesspool of good-for-nothing, non-white freeloaders who don’t share our values and our Christian work ethic. This is race-baiting class warfare at it’s finest.

    As it’s been pointed out, most of these “freeloaders” are in fact working poor, who do pay federal tax by way of the payroll tax. Many of them are white. Many of them vote Republican. Romney knows this, and yet he chooses not to mention it. The narrative he’s painting doesn’t allow for nuance. He’s talking to people like EOS who see only black and white.

    The 47% of Americans who don’t pay income tax are Democrats, and they only vote for Obama because he’s offering them free stuff. They don’t care about our country. They are selfish. I need you, the good, hard working, white millionaires of America to stand up with me, and fight them off before the destroy our culture… Pay no attention to the fact that my father was an immigrant on welfare, that I don’t pay taxes, and that these people whom I’m attacking today are probably disproportionately Republican.

  10. anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Did I read that right?

    “A red state can have 51% republican votes while 47% of its population vote Democratic and don’t pay taxes. ”

    Does EOS really believe that no Democrats pay taxes, in spite of the evidence, which shows clearly that the more blue a state is, the more its people contribute through taxes? Does he really believe that no Republicans are on welfare? I’ve always tried to give the man the benefit of the doubt, but it’s finally dawning on me that he’s beyond all hope. I think it might be time for the silent treatment.

  11. EOS
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Except there’s higher percentage of Christians in the African American community who have a strong work ethic than in the population at large. And the majority of freeloaders in this country are white. Check the facts and refrain from YOUR stereotypes before you post and infer that someone else is racist.

  12. EOS
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    No anonymous. I didn’t say that at all. I specifically mentioned that not all freeloaders were Democrat.

  13. Posted September 19, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    That you use the word “freeloaders” at all speaks loads to what you believe.

  14. Meta
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    To add to what Knox said, here’s something from David Frum:

    When you ask white Americans to estimate the black population of the United States, the answer averages out at nearly 30%. Ask them to estimate the Hispanic population, and the answer averages out at 22%.

    So when a politician or a broadcaster talks about 47% in “dependency,” the image that swims into many white voters’ minds is not their mother in Florida, her Social Security untaxed, receiving Medicare benefits vastly greater than her lifetime tax contributions; it is not their uncle, laid off after 30 years and now too old to start over.

  15. KKT
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Obama nailed it last night on David Letterman.

    “When I won in 2008, 47 percent voted for John McCain; they didn’t vote for me. And what I said on election night was even though you didn’t vote for me, I hear your voices and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be your president.”

    “One of the things I learned as president is you represent the entire country. When I meet Republicans as I’m traveling around the country, they are hard-working, family people who care deeply about this country, and my expectation is that if you want to be president, you’ve got to work for everybody. Not just for some.”

    We don’t need a president who creates divisions.

  16. Mr. Y
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Here’s the “maker” vs. “taker” breakdown.

    “All told, Obama gets 50 electoral votes from the “maker” states to Romney’s 9 — 17 are tossups — while Romney gets 96 electoral votes from the “taker” states to Obama’s 5, with 29 as tossups.”


  17. Anonymous Mike
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    While I agree with nothing that EOS says, I appreciate the fact that he takes the time to comment here, unlike his once-vocal brethren, who all scurried away after their predictions of a Mike Eller victory were proven to be laughably wrong.

  18. Posted September 19, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Mike Eller for governor.

  19. Meta
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Bernie Sanders:

    “What really galls me is, we’ve got millions of people in this country who come from families like my own – working class families – people who have worked hard their entire lives, working 50-60 hours per week and now they’re on Medicare — now they’re on Social Security and they’re being lectured that they have got to take personal responsibility and care for their lives. Being lectured by him. This speaks of an extraordinary arrogance on the part of Romney and his ruling class friends.”

    “People in this country work harder than people in any other industrialized country on Earth. They don’t need to be lectured by millionaires and billionaires about the work ethic that the fulfill.”

  20. Alice Krum
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    You’re leaving out the best part when you focus on the 47%. During the same fundraising event, Romney also told his supporters that he’s disadvantaged because he was born to a rich white family, and that he’d have a better chance of winning if his dad were a Mexican.

    Also, according to Colbert there’s one more demographic that doesn’t pay federal income tax, along with the elderly and the working poor. It’s U.S. soldiers serving oversees. So you can add our sons and daughters in uniform to that list of teat sucking parasites who don’t contribute.

  21. Posted September 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Freeloaders is what they are. All those elderly, Unchristian shit bag free loaders. If they would just work harder, they wouldn’t need social security or Medicare.

    I just talked to a freeloading shit bag that works three part time jobs, probably making no more than minimum wage, to make ends meet. If she keeps up the hard work, she’ll be a hedge fund manager right?

  22. Bob
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The circular firing squad happening today is great entertainment value. Republicans realize that they have backed a complete moron, a true empty suit, and they are losing their shit. It’s ironic because given the economy and jobs reports, Obama should be easy to beat. They didn’t like Romney four years ago but let their greed guide them. Romney has the most money so he’s our guy. Completely ignoring the fact that there was nothing likable about this creep.

  23. John Galt
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    In Romney’s defense, he did taunt and attack a gay classmate. Granted, that was a long time ago, but it should still carry some weight.

  24. Brainless
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Folks, I contend that this EOS is not our original EOS. The writing style and tone is all wrong. This is, like, inception-level trolling.

  25. Meta
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Another rat escapes the sinking ship.

    Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday morning that he would step down as co-chair of Mitt Romney’s campaign to become the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade organization that represents the 100 largest financial services companies in the country.

    Pawlenty tenure will begin as the group continues to lobby against the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms that are starting to take effect. Among his new causes will be defeating the law’s price controls on debit card fees and the Volcker Rule, which is intended to keep banks from engaging in the risky behavior that led to the industry’s collapse in 2008. FSR has also taken aim at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the bill’s provisions for whistleblowers.

    In their new partnership, FSR and the former governor seem to be ignoring Pawlenty’s inflammatory anti-bank rhetoric during his failed presidential run. In 2011, Pawlenty wholeheartedly condemned Wall Street on the campaign trail, declaring, “Get your snout out of the trough just like everybody else.”

    Read more:

  26. EFM
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This guy is just unbelievable. How do these people end up being a part of the running of a country.

  27. jean Henry
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Re: Implied racism. There is some more blatant race-card playing (Neo-con style) from another part of the leaked video which implies, with similar arrogance, that Latino privilege:

    “My dad, as you probably, know was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico … and, uh, had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this,” Romney said. “But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico…. I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

    In fact the whole video is full of similar conceit-based gaffs. Not sure why the press underplayed this. I guess they had enough to work with.

  28. Oliva
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Brainless, I think you’re right about real EOS and new EOS.

  29. Meta
    Posted September 24, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Romney is winning with one demographic. Rural whites in battleground states.

  30. Meta
    Posted September 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Ezra Klein is saying the same thing that you are about the PAC money being directed away from Romney.

    Here’s the catch: Romney only controls the money raised by his campaign. The money raised by the RNC is controlled by the RNC. The money raised by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC is controlled by Rove and his partners. And while these groups want Romney to be president, they are not solely devoted to the task of electing Romney as president. If they are devoted to anything, it’s to blocking Obama.

    Which leads to Romney’s nightmare scenario: If things don’t turn around for Romney soon, those super PACs may give up on the task of electing Romney as president and turn to the task of encircling Obama’s second term with a Republican House and a Republican Senate.

    Read more:

  31. Meta
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Romney reverses double-down on 47%… now says he’s running to help the lower classes

    From CNN:
    “People at the top are doing fine… I’m here to help the lower class(es)”

  32. Knox
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Great headline from Bloomberg: “Republican-Heavy Counties Eat Up Most Food-Stamp Growth”

    Here’s what it says:

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in May that he’d written off votes from 47 percent of Americans who are collecting government aid. Turns out many of them are part of his political base.

    Seventy percent of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg. They include Republican strongholds like King County, Texas, which in 2008 backed Republican John McCain by 92.6 percent, his largest share in the nation; and fast-growing Douglas County, Colorado.

    That means Romney is counting on votes from areas where lower-income people have become more reliant on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps. Mark Baisley, who heads Douglas County’s Republican Party, said many recipients will back Romney in hopes he’ll improve the economy.

  33. Meta
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    “You shouldn’t have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what a candidate actually thinks.” -Scott Prouty, the bartender who secretly taped Mitt Romney’s “47%” remarks, on why he felt obligated to come forward.

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  1. […] many here in Michigan might think, aren’t stupid. They heard what Romney had to say about the freeloading 47% when he thought that he was talking off-the-record, in front of a select group of fellow […]

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