Mitt Romney returned to Florida last week, only this time his handlers cautioned donors not to make video recordings at private fund-raising events.
In other words, take out your checkbook but pocket your iPhone.
It was in Boca Raton on May 17 when Romney stood up in a mansion and dumped on “47 percent” of Americans, whom he characterized as “victims” and “dependents” who paid no income taxes. They, he said, were the core of President Obama’s voter support, adding:
“And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
These words, uttered by a fellow who will show us only two years of his own tax filings, were caught on tape. He was schmoozing with a small crowd of ordinary rich folks who paid $50,000-a-plate, roughly the median annual income for American families.
President Obama courts wealthy campaign contributors, too, but he’s not stupid enough to trash about half the U.S. population during his private pep talks.
Romney didn’t intend for his comments to leak from that elite venue. Now, instead of apologizing, he’s trying to defend and clarify what he said.
It hasn’t been easy, because he insulted such a broad spectrum: retirees, military veterans, college students, people who’ve lost their jobs, and many millions of Americans who work but don’t earn enough to pay taxes.
Also included are the many whose payroll tax withholdings are offset by standard deductions.
These are Romney’s so-called victims and dependents who think they’re “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
He was close only with his statistic — about 46 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes last year. If Romney had visited some non-gated communities in Florida, he would have gotten a chance to meet some of those non-taxpayers.
They worked hard their whole lives, and now rely on Social Security payments bolstered by tax breaks enacted for seniors.
In truth, about half of all Americans benefit from some type of federal program. Everybody who’s reading this column has, or will have, a family member who uses Medicare to see a doctor, or who cashes a monthly Social Security check.
You probably never thought of them as victims or, in the Republican parlance, “takers.” They don’t think of themselves that way, either.