In a previous blog post I speculated that Mitt Romney’s campaign had peaked too soon. The goal, I said, is to peak on election day, timing your highest approval ratings to hit on the day they matter, before people can sit down and realize what it was you really said.
Instead, I said, he seemed to have peaked a bit before the convention that nominated him, leaving him on thin ice in the future.
Boy, did I call that one.
It may be premature, but offhand it looks now as if Mitt has not just passed his peak but is intent to dive as deep as he can, shooting his toes off with a shotgun on the way down.
Now, it is possible Mitt could still pull something out. You never know. Politics is much like Raptors baseball where the game is never over until the bottom of the 9th because a 10-run inning is always possible.
Still, Mitt has royally put his foot in it by — the horror — speaking his mind, his true mind, his honest, unedited, clearly thinking “this is how I actually feel” mind, which is something no politician ever dare do.
I speak of course of the now infamous sneaky video (click) showing Mitt telling a bunch of rich donors that 47 percent of the nation doesn’t pay income taxes, so he’s written them off, they’re just going to vote for Obama because they want more free stuff and blah blah blah.
Mitt thought he was safe and, probably, was sucking up to his rich pals by feeding them the comforting stereotypes of the lazy poor that he knows they want to hear. He obviously wasn’t paying attention to previous sneaky videos that have given trouble to Obama — the “hugging their guns” thing, that whole ACORN mess, and so on.
Awareness of the dangers of this sort of thing ought to be on the intro-page of day one in “Running for Public Office 101.” Am I the only guy who remembers how former Ag Secretary Earl Butz under Richard Nixon (click) got into trouble?
Well, Mitt, guess what? Democrats can buy video cameras too. Every cell phone has one, practically.
That 47 percent (really 46, but who’s counting?) of the nation’s wage earners don’t pay income taxes thing is so much a lie on so many levels it is impossible to list them all. It may be mathematically correct, sort of, but completely ignores why those people pay no income taxes and it is a ”why” that is criminally ignored by Mitt and the GOP in its rush to make a point.
Who are the 46 percent?
Here’s a lovely chart, (click) interactive, that shows some numbers. It looks at the 10 percent of filers who are seniors on Social Security who don’t pay income tax, the 25 or so percent who make so little that their dependents push them below the minimum line, the numbers who pay a payroll tax even if they don’t qualify for income tax, and so on.
Bottom line: Around 1 percent of wage earners in the country making more than $20,000 a year pay no federal income tax. And, of course, even they do pay sales tax, property tax, water tax and all the rest.
David Brooks, the conservative columnist at the New York Times who has, up to now, supported Romney, is scathing today (click), pointing out among other things that a huge chunk of folks who don’t pay income taxes are older white folk –Republicans and even Tea Party folk. The headline on his column — Thurston Howell Romney — may soar above a few of you younger readers. It is a reference to the clueless rich guy on Gilligan’s Island.
Key quote from the column: “Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.”
What is more interesting is who makes one heck of a lot more than $20,000 a year and doesn’t pay any income tax, or darn little. Ever hear of General Electric?
Bruce Bartlett, senior staff member of the Reagan and Bush I administrations, and who’s worked for Ron Paul and his ilk, has a great op-ed piece in today’s New York Times parcing the corporate income tax that people like Mitt like to complain is too high.
It’s really not, Bartlett says, for a wide range of reasons (click) , all of them legal. These are the same dodges that people like Mitt Romney like to say they happily take advantage of because nobody should pay more than they should but, as Bartlett points out, one heck of a lot of very rich and profitable corporations are paying zip.
It is amusing that neither Romney nor his supporters find it ironic that they defend people like Mitt taking advantage of legal ways to lower their tax liability, but when someone making $26,000 a year claims his four dependents (spouse, self, two kids) to avoid liability that person is derided as a leech demanding free stuff from government.
This and other statements by Mitt make one realize just how tone-deaf he is.
I have a friend who used to live in Las Vegas who posted this on Facebook regarding the Mitt kerfeffel:
“It shows he doesn’t have the slightest grasp of how very, very little people have to earn before they qualify for public assistance. While riding the bus in Las Vegas a few years ago, I met a single mom who worked two jobs and was on her way to interview for a third to keep her family from being evicted. They had a day’s worth of food left in the fridge, but she wanted to work to pay her way, rather than use public assistance.
“This guy has no idea what motivates the average American. He’s never been one.”
Or, as one facebook friend said: “That’s one heck of a campaign strategy, telling half the country to f… off.”