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Sunday, July 22, 2018


With so many Republicans frantically distancing themselves from Mitt Romney over those notorious remarks about the “47 percent” of Americans he views as tax-exempt moochers, there is at least one right-wing pundit proudly claiming responsibility for what Romney said.

Complaints from the right about “lucky duckies” too poor to pay taxes are nothing new, of course.   Yet although he may have to share the credit with his pal Paul Ryan, strong circumstantial evidence supports the boasting of Charles J. Sykes.

And if Sykes is right, then the excuses offered by Romney and Ryan about “inelegant” and “inarticulate” phrasing over the past few days are laughable.

A Milwaukee talk radio host and senior fellow at the right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Charlie Sykes is also an author whose most recent book, published last winter by St. Martin’s Press, is titled A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something For Nothing. 

Only hours after  Mother Jones released the video of Romney trashing the Obama-supporting, self-pitying “victims” who don’t pay income taxes yet expect food, housing, health care and “you-name-it” from government, a post popped up on the Facebook page for A Nation of Moochers hinting that the book must have inspired his deep thoughts:

Romney suggests that it might be a problem that dependency is growing while the # of taxpayers shrinks. Who knew?
Was Mitt Romney suggesting that we are becoming a Nation of Moochers? And where would he ever gotten such an idea? Hmmmm….Wherever could [he] have gotten such notions? Maybe Paul Ryan is sharing his reading list.

Promotional flackery aside, Sykes can certainly make a strong circumstantial case. Handed the Sykes book, Romney would not have had to read beyond the first few pages to absorb the theme he expounded in Boca Raton. Toward the very beginning of Chapter One appears the following passage:

Even as more people become dependent on government, fewer were paying their share of the tab. By tax day in 2010, nearly half of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes. After years of cuts, credits, and outright rebates, 47 percent of households had no net liability at all.

Note how Sykes seamlessly melds two very distinct groups –those who receive some kind of benefit or assistance from government, and those who pay no federal income tax – precisely as Romney did, quite wrongly.

No wonder Sykes thinks Romney is channeling his ideas.

The obvious connection between Romney and Sykes would be Ryan. The book features a blurb from none other than the Janesville Congressman (which Sykes reposted on his book’s Facebook page this week):

Have I mentioned lately what Paul Ryan said about A Nation of Moochers?

Charlie Sykes’ A Nation of Moochers provides a much-needed wakeup call for a nation approaching two perilous tipping points: a moral one and a fiscal one. With our country facing unprecedented challenges and stark political choices, principled leaders will benefit from Sykes’ clear vision, keen insight and intellect. If we’re serious about getting our nation back on track, then we would be wise to follow the lessons laid out in A Nation of Moochers.” – Paul Ryan, Member of Congress

As a Representative from Wisconsin, Ryan has frequently appeared on Sykes’ radio show and at public events with him over the years, including a “Charlie Sykes Insight” conference last March – not long before Romney showed up for two days of pre-primary events in Ryan’s home state. Indeed, among those events was a March 22 appearance on Sykes’ radio program, during which Romney endorsed Ryan’s original budget and his privatization schemes for Medicare and Social Security. Would Sykes let a guest who was about to secure the Republican presidential nomination leave without a copy of his new book?