While Mitt Romney may well wish he had expressed himself more “elegantly” at the swanky Boca Raton fundraiser where he denounced half the voting population as shiftless, government-entitled moochers, he isn’t backing away from those secretly recorded remarks – although what he said was entirely inaccurate as well as obnoxious.
Watching him on video, the Republican nominee sounds not only vulgar and arrogant but profoundly ignorant about the nation he hopes to govern. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” said the Republican nominee, who proceeded to describe those people.
“All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government…”Those people,” he went on, “believe that they are victims…believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
Let’s stop right there: Whatever percentage of Americans plan to vote for the president, there is no plausible evidence that they all think of themselves as entitled to government benefits. Nor is there any evidence that all of Obama’s supporters are in fact “dependent on government.” And there is plenty of evidence that Romney supporters – like Obama supporters and like many Americans who will not vote at all — receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment benefits, housing vouchers, veterans benefits, and other forms of federal assistance.
The Republican-leaning moochers, as defined by Romney, can easily be found in the red states, which contribute far less in federal taxes than they receive in per capita benefits. Alabama, for instance, receives almost $4000 per capita in federal spending on retirement and disability, while contributing just over $1000 per capita in federal income taxes. Kentucky receives upwards of $7000 per capita in direct benefits, including retirement, disability, student assistance, and unemployment, but contributes slightly less per capita than Alabama in federal income taxes.
Roughly the same dispensation exists across much of the old Confederacy, where white voters in lower income brackets will faithfully vote for Romney despite his sneers at them. Across the red states generally – from Mississipppi, Arkansas, and South Carolina to Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma, the Dakotas and Alaska — there is a clear pattern. More money flows in from Washington via government spending than goes out to Washington via federal taxes, which belies the incessant whining of their “conservative” elected officials. (The difference is made up in revenues from the blue states – New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, among others – that receive less from Washington than they pay.)
“These are people who pay no income tax,” Romney told his well-heeled audience in Boca Raton, suggesting that voters who don’t pay income taxes comprise the same alleged 47 percent who will vote in lockstep for the president.
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