Mitt Romney's recent comments regarding President Obama's voters have created quite a media stir. During a private donor reception in Boca Raton, Florida in May 2012, Romney made the following, secretly recorded, statement:
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.Romney's comments are inaccurate, insulting, hypocritical.
Romney's Comments Are Inaccurate
Many factcheckers have already tackled this issue. Ezra Klein, for example, has meticulously uncovered the inaccuracies in Romney's comments. The notion that 47 percent of Americans do not pay taxes is simply wrong. Nearly 50 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes, but most of these indiviudals pay payroll taxes, which fund, among other things, Social Security and Medicare. The tiny percent of individuals who do not pay any payroll or income taxes are elderly, students or extremely poor. Thus, contrary to Romney's assertion, the "47 percent" pay taxes, work, and do their best to provide for their families.
Romney's Comments Are Insulting
Romney suggests that people who do not pay taxes suffer from a victim mentality and prefer to leech governmental resources. This idea is strange coming from an individual who was born with a diamond spoon in his mouth. Romney has never had to struggle for basic human needs. And he has smartly sheltered his billions of dollars in assets from taxation. Yet, he has the audacity to malign the character of working-class and poor Americans. This is shameful.
Romney's Comments Are Hypocritical
Romney's comments wreak of hypocrisy. While he bashes people who he believes feel they are entitled to governmental resources, including health care, he and his running-mate Paul Ryan have paraded around the country telling seniors that they will protect and improve Medicare. But seniors are the very class of individuals who, taken together, are least likely to pay any federal taxes and who are most likely to depend upon the federal government for healthcare. Furthermore, given the high rates of poverty in states that tend to vote for Republican presidential candidates, Romney's comments likely apply to a large portion of the Republican base that he hopes will give him an election victory.
Unlike most campaign commentary, I take these comments personally. First, I am voting for President Obama. But more importantly, I grew up in a poor family, but I am now a Yale-educated law professor. My success required hard work and a lot of personal and family sacrifices. Unlike Romney, my family ties did not give me any societal advantages whatsoever.
Despite my individual effort, I also relied upon governmental assistance, particularly student financial aid and a public education, to become the person I am today. Of course the entire Republican National Convention was based on the falsehood that governmental assistance is unnecessary for economic success.
Romney's comments have no place in a country that prides itself on offering equal opportunities. Romney's comments make him unfit him for the office of President of the United States.