Mitt Romney said something months ago that was neither ‘eloquent’ nor articulate, but it’s not going to lose him the election despite what Keith Olbermann thinks (and argued with me on twitter over).
Romney’s campaign went into full-blown panic attack mode, but the leftist outrage is overblown. The GOP presidential candidate didn’t say anything his supporters didn’t already believe and his detractors didn’t already assume he believed.
If you want to fact-check what he said, that 47% of Americans are dependent on government, you can. The number is accurate, but the intent is somewhat disingenuous because less than 20% of tax filers reported with exemptions from taxes.
Despite what the Obama campaign wants to say that these comments mean, Romney was speaking purely from a political standpoint. He did not imply that he would forget about people on welfare and government subsidies.
In fact, this pernicious attack is specious at its core given the fact that Romney has dedicated his life in his church to helping the less fortunate, not just through his volunteering and charitable work, but through millions of dollars in charitable giving on top of the millions he’s paid in taxes over the years.
The intent of Romney’s now infamous “47%” line was meant to illustrate the burgeoning welfare state under Obama (which frankly starter unded President George W. Bush).
Nearly 1 in 7 Americans are now on food stamps, double what it was four years ago. President Obama has, habitually and repeatedly, made it a priority to hand people a government check, rather than the help the needy to be self-sufficient.
In fact, the USDA has been running radio spots for people to sign up for food stamps.
Unemployment remains above 8% despite what the president has said his policies would produce. For every dollar in private sector growth Obama has created, he’s created $3 in deficits.
His trumpeting of private sector job growth remains faulty as the jobs growth he’s creating has been unable to keep up with population growth, hence why the unemployment rate has remained above 8% and why the ‘real’ unemployment numbers are well above 10%, as people have simply dropped out of the workforce.
This is the dependence Mitt Romney was talking about. A president who believes the government is the way to prosperity, despite the fact that his every effort to provide a helping hand has gone wanting and the economy continues to falter.
Seniors, who make up a majority of those 47% of non-taxpayers, likely agree with the heart of Romney’s claims. A 70-year-old retiree living in Boca understands that she’s paid her fair share of taxes of the course of her life. She understands that the millions of Americans out of work and on welfare threaten the benefits she earned over the course of her working life.
If you want to hear the average person over the age of 50 launch into an epic, curmudgeonly diatribe, ask them about free-loaders. Most people have worked hard enough in their lives to resent those people, and Romney’s sentiments resonate.
Where these comments don’t sit well is on the left, where they’d like to grow the welfare state and expand their own power over the unwashed masses. The best way to repress a people is to make them dependent on government to survive.
While it’s true that poor people tend not to vote in high numbers, as Ezra Klein points out, how can we know the true effects of Obama’s welfare nation building until this election at the earliest?
All of that being said, this moment of inarticulacy from Romney hasn’t lost him the election. The election has already been lost ‘5 or 6 times’ by Romney according to geniuses like Olbermann, yet the former Massachusetts governor remains neck and neck with the woefully incompetent incumbent.
It is time for Romney to let go of the ideological attacks, the flaccid demagoguery that we hate about his opponent. While Obama has been allowed to be vague, oscillatory, and weak over his four years in office, it’s time for Romney to prevent clear, specific alternatives.
In a battle of brands, Romney can’t win. The Obama campaign is too strong, but in a battle of ideas, Romney can’t lose. It’s time to remind the American people why.