Wednesday, September 19, 2012

47 percent

During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney told CNN:

I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.

Call it reverse class warfare: Gin up resentment towards government dependents. Imply they don’t share in the struggles of the middle class.

After the primaries, that meager 5 percent of Americans exploded to 47 percent. Romney said at a fundraiser in May:

Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll [Obama] be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that is what they sell every four years. 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.

This is worse than defeatist. It is condescending. By writing off the 47 percent’s votes, Romney gives more credit to the welfare state than it is due. Government payouts cannot sate the American spirit. The tea party uprising proved that.

While many Americans find contentment in getting by on the government dole, most of them harbor a latent love for freedom. They don’t want to be dismissed as infantile wards of the state. They want a President who will get the government out of their way, give them back the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and put so-called entitlements on a sustainable course.

Romney needn’t narrow his argument for a broader, flatter tax base to 53 percent of Americans. It’s morally intuitive for all Americans. Wealth redistribution is inherently wrong. The only argument for it is the ill-gotten gains of the super-rich with their teams of lawyers and accountants, and that’s after you’ve dismissed the obvious solution of simplifying the tax code.

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