This one time, Mitt Romney decided to make this election about the most important issues facing this nation: Restraining government, reforming entitlements, and getting the economy producing jobs again. There is — ahem — some overlap among the three. Romney pivoted from anti-Obama to pro-growth in one decisive stroke: He named Paul Ryan as his Veep.
And then he sort of forgot about all that stuff, it seemed.
But video emerged of Romney telling a group of his supporters that Obama’s supporters tended to be grievance-issue voters dependent in one way or another on government. Suddenly, whether Romney meant to or not this time, he made this an election about issues again. The Wall Street Journal sums it up thusly:
In his comments to fundraisers captured on video, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said 47% of Americans would almost automatically vote for President Barack Obama because they were “dependent” on the government, in part because they received government benefits and paid no federal income taxes.
The WSJ then goes on to break down the data:
26.4% of U.S. households had someone enrolled in Medicaid (the health-care program for low-income Americans)
16.2% of households had at least one member receiving Social Security.
15.8% lived in a household receiving food stamps
14.9% had a member with Medicare benefits
4.5% of households received assistance with their rent
1.7% had a member receiving unemployment benefits.
This is something, uncomfortable though it may be, which needs some serious talking about — all the partisan stuff aside.
There are plenty of Medicare recipients who vote Republican, and plenty of überrich Democrats, too. Just because you’re on the dole doesn’t mean you can’t support Romney. In fact, I can think of a few million people getting unemployment checks who might just be dying to vote for anyone but Obama. Twice, if need be.
We now live under a system where almost three trillion dollars get hoovered out of the economy, sent to Washington, and then (mostly) sent back to individual Americans in the form of some kind of benefit. People, especially people in power, enjoy this process so much that they magically conjure up out of thin air another trillion dollars, which is then (mostly) sent back to individual Americans in the form of some kind of benefit, too.
About half of the people pay no income tax, despite getting all these benefits. Ten percent of the people pay more the half the income tax. The payroll taxes which are supposed to pay for the two most ginormist benefits — Social Security and Medicare — have been gutted, in order to provide “stimulus.” While SS and Medicare are now going broke even faster than they were before the cuts, we’re still waiting for that stimulus to arrive. Any day now. Tick tick tick.
See, Obama broke the New Deal.
The deal was, you give Washington a big chunk of your paycheck, and Washington would look after you in retirement. The more you paid in, the more you got (up to a point). The system was never perfect, of course, and it could only go on indefinitely so long as the working population increased indefinitely. That didn’t happen. But SS wasn’t supposed to be the rich subsidizing the poor; it was supposed to be a surrender of some money and liberty in exchange for some security. It’s not a bargain I would have made, but nobody asked me.
But by cutting those payroll taxes “for the middle class,” Obama didn’t just hasten the day SS would go broke; he also divorced the payment from the payout. He has, in fact, turned SS into a pure soak-the-rich welfare system. Just listen to how he and his Democrat friends howl when there’s any talk of restoring the payroll taxes to where they were before. They aren’t upset because they’re worried the stimulus effect would disappear, because it never appeared at all. The vile progs are upset because they’d finally found the perfect crisis to make FDR’s progressive dream even more progressive, and they weren’t going to change it back.
If this makes you think of the administration’s decision to gut the 1996 welfare reform, you’re not the only one. They want to move everything to the left, whether it’s the centrist reforms of the 1990s, or even the left-wing retirement pension program of the 1930s. Whatever it is, they’ll push it to the left.
Now here comes Mitt Romney, reminding everybody — how uncouth! how raaaaaaaacist! — that things have moved so far left already that 53% are supporting 47%. That’s just not sustainable. And if Obama gets reelected, it won’t be long until those numbers are reversed. The ultimate goal, I suppose, is for the 1% to totally support the 99%.
That is, if by “support” you mean “enslave.” The rich don’t mind paying taxes, even lots of taxes, if those taxes support a government big enough and mean enough to squash any would-be nouveau riche up-and-comers, preferably before they’re even old enough to start a business in their parents’ garage. When you own all the apple carts, you really can’t afford to have someone upsetting them.
(Go back in time to 1975, taking along a computer history book of the last 40 years, and ask the CEO of IBM what he’d pay to squash Steve Jobs and Bill Gates into smithereens.)
So we’re at an inflection point. We can continue down this road we’re on a while longer, until the vile progs grab complete control. And then watch as our once-proud country becomes the new star of an off-off-off Broadway production of Greece, the musical. Or we can have this conversation and take things in a different direction.
I haven’t known Romney to have the courage of his convictions. I haven’t even known his convictions. But if he isn’t right, right now, about the 47% — he soon will be. It might not have been very politic of him to bring it up, but I’m awfully glad he has.