Freeloaders are made of taxpayers!

by John Holbo on September 18, 2012

So I click over to the Corner to see how they are spinning Romney’s fresh troubles. I like John O’Sullivan’s moxie. Basically, Romney should say 1) he’s not backing off; 2) in saying 47% of Americans pay no income tax, thereby implying they are freeloaders, i.e. pay no taxes, he was just forgetting that up is up, not down. Could happen to anyone. “We pay so many taxes that we sometimes forget how many and how much, as I briefly did.” 3) - 8) are some suggestions about how to finesse 2). We need to lower taxes on these freeloaders! Freeloaders are made of taxpayers!

But I think the really important step is probably 9). I can’t imagine why O’Sullivan didn’t give this step its own number. So far as I can tell, it’s absolutely crucial to the whole scheme not coming down around Romney’s ears. “Romney should then leave without taking questions.”

It almost seems unnecessary, but Freeloadergate opens the way for attack ads suggesting Romney is gearing up to expand the War On Women into a three-front war against Women, Children and the Elderly. (It’s like the Romney campaign is turning into one big parody inversion of the protocols for abandoning ship.) Just do a montage of pictures of smiling children - at play, in school, with their families - and nice retirees - in their homes, pictures of their younger, working selves around them - with a brutal ‘FREELOADER’ stamped across each face. And the audio of Romney over it all.

The wages of talking such nonsense really ought to be getting blasted with ads that take the nonsense at face value. Let Romney clean up the mess.

{ 125 comments }

1

JW Mason 09.18.12 at 2:30 am

Suppose you are a contributor to one of the world’s more prominent blogs. And suppose you realize that the compensation that matters to all the unpaid people who produce writing online, is attention. Then how do you allocate the small but nontrivial quota of attention that is yours to dispose of?

If your answer is, “I use it to reward the stupidest and most repulsive people I can find,” then congratulations: You may already be John Holbo!

2

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 2:35 am

?

3

Eileen 09.18.12 at 2:35 am

On the other hand, with my wonderful self-control and all, I can enjoy NOT clicking on those links just there. I guess you could always link to the google cache if you wanted to really be a dick but that just seems silly.

Anyway, your idea for an ad is honestly awesome, and I hope I get to see it on my TV.

4

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 2:36 am

Sorry, I should probably have clarified that: normally people complain when I post about comic books rather than politics. Is the complaint now that I am posting about politics rather than comic books?

5

Eileen 09.18.12 at 2:46 am

No I think he was upset that you actually linked to some scummy wingnut blogs thus giving them pageviews. My first para was responding to the top post, btw.

6

JW Mason 09.18.12 at 2:50 am

No, I love your comic book posts. Stick with that.

7

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 2:52 am

“No I think he was upset that you actually linked to some scummy wingnut blogs thus giving them pageviews.”

We’ll have to let JW Mason explain whether he is disgruntled about the lack of comics talk or the surfeit of Romney-related links.

8

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 2:52 am

There we have it!

9

Sancho 09.18.12 at 3:13 am

So, at this stage of the game, which comic book character best represents Romney and his fortunes?

10

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 3:21 am

Bizarro Scrooge McDuck.

11

Sancho 09.18.12 at 3:23 am

Hardly bizarro. Doesn’t Romney go home to swim in the money vault?

12

HP 09.18.12 at 3:25 am

Sancho, the only comic books I read are pre-Code horror comics, so I guess Romney is Satan masquerading as a mummified hand that grants wishes. Or, possibly, a paranoid husband who suspects his wife is having an affair. John Holbo, on the other hand, is a Hindu idol whose ruby third eye has been stolen by greedy adventurers.

13

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 3:27 am

“Bizarro Scrooge McDuck.”

Either that or Bizarro John Galt. “Bizarro am retreat to Bizarro Gulch because all taxpayers am NOT moochers and looters!”

14

Sandwichman 09.18.12 at 3:28 am

which comic book character

That’s easy. Bizarro-world Superman

15

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 3:28 am

Hardly bizarro. Doesn’t Romney go home to swim in the money vault?

I believe Scrooge McDuck wouldn’t hurt himself doing it.

16

Colin Danby 09.18.12 at 3:29 am

Someone should break it to JWM that compared to its ideological brethren, The Corner is pretty civilized.

17

Dr. Hilarius 09.18.12 at 3:32 am

The most damning statement is: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

He can’t walk that back by trying to claim he’s sympathetic to all these losers. What will be hard for the Obama campaign is getting elderly whites, the unemployed, disabled etc. to understand that they are part of Romney’s 47%.

18

Sandwichman 09.18.12 at 3:32 am

How about Bizarro Scrooge McDuck, then?

19

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 3:32 am

20

Sancho 09.18.12 at 3:41 am

How about Deadpool? Does Deadpool work?

Isn’t his schtick about being inconsistent and reversing his fundamental beliefs every time he speaks?

21

John Holbo 09.18.12 at 4:14 am

“How about Deadpool?”

Romney: the smirk with a mouth?

22

Alan 09.18.12 at 4:19 am

Mitt: Me love upper-class dressage-owning rich! Me am champ of middle-class business owners who built own business without roads, schools, funded by taxes! Me am lover of women who hate themselves! Me like Clint Eastwood whatever the hell he said!

Hmmm. As suggested above, Mitt IS the Bizzaro candidate; counternarratives unneeded.

23

faustusnotes 09.18.12 at 5:27 am

This does raise the fascinating question of exactly what a US presidential candidate has to say or do before they will be forced from the race? Apparently dissing half the population doesn’t cut the mustard, so I’m guessing committing some kind of crime on national TV is the minimum requirement for Romney to be replaced.

24

Harold 09.18.12 at 5:33 am

Mitt doesn’t care about the military — I understand they don’t pay income taxes.

25

John Quiggin 09.18.12 at 5:44 am

A couple of quick points

1. A while back, there was a big fuss about Romney saying “I don’t care about the poor”, with claims that this was out of context. His in-context quote was far worse.

2 (which I may try to expand upon in a post). This talking point has been around for ages – remember “We are the 53 per cent”, and refuted long ago with the observation that most of the 47 per cent pay payroll and other taxes. The interesting point is that the various rightwing commentators obviously saw the refutation and ignored it. But once Romney used it, they all started by admitting the point. The problem is, I think, the claim is “true enough for rightwing talking point work”, but not true enough to be defended by a Presidential candidate. Romney’s convention joke about climate change had the same kind of problem.

26

bad Jim 09.18.12 at 5:45 am

The appealing implication of the message – that half the country depends upon Federal handouts – is that eliminating such obvious waste would make it possible to greatly reduce taxes on hard-working long-suffering overburdened rich people, America’s unsung heroes.

27

faustusnotes 09.18.12 at 5:49 am

unsung heroes, bad Jim? I thought Paris Hilton had her own album?

28

Both Sides Do It 09.18.12 at 5:57 am

Even taking an absolutely cynical appreciation for the political calculation Romney’s doing doesn’t redeem the quote

“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.”

No, you dolt, you play divide and conquer based on race the way your predecessors have done for generations

Unless his audience isn’t receptive to that kind of honest talk . . . always wheels within wheels for Romney

29

Michael Harris 09.18.12 at 6:28 am

#17: ” What will be hard for the Obama campaign is getting elderly whites, the unemployed, disabled etc. to understand that they are part of Romney’s 47%.”

Something tells me Bill Clinton could do that with little effort.

30

Michael Harris 09.18.12 at 6:37 am

31

Dr. Hilarius 09.18.12 at 6:38 am

The military do pay income tax on regular pay, if they make enough. The don’t pay tax on housing allowances, special combat pay, and other military benefits.

http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/tax2000/blgross.htm

32

Phil 09.18.12 at 7:26 am

I think it’s more economical to conclude that he believes it. 53/47 sounds like a pretty slim margin, but if you’re only electing to one position that doesn’t matter – 51/49 is big enough. And that’s not taking into account differential turnout, differential (de-)registration and so on.

What’s really Bizarro-world is the way that “pay no income tax (apart from deductions at source” morphs into “pay no taxes”. As an ex-freelancer who still does odd bits of work, I currently pay “income tax”, on this definition, at a rate of about 1% of my annual income. Whoever came up with the “53%” slogan was lying and knew it. I should think Romney’s swallowed it whole, though.

33

ponce 09.18.12 at 7:52 am

Haha Mitt, the Obama commercials practically write themselves:

If you’re a U.S. military veteran receiving help from the VA, Mitt Romney does not want your vote.

If you’re a hardworking family who takes tax deductions for your house and your kids, Mitt Romney doesn’t want your vote.

If you’re a retiree whose medical bills are paid for by the Medicare system you paid into your whole life, Mitt Romney doesn’t want your vote.

etc., etc.

34

bad Jim 09.18.12 at 8:08 am

A prime example of knee-slapping hilarity is the line about his father: “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” Poor Mitt has struggled all his life with the handicap of being white. One shudders to imagine what he endured at his prep school, being the same color as everyone else. Harvard must have been hell.

35

Ginger Yellow 09.18.12 at 10:12 am

So, at this stage of the game, which comic book character best represents Romney and his fortunes?

As Sadly, No have been saying for ages, The Smiler.

36

chris y 09.18.12 at 10:24 am

Romney: the smirk with a mouth?

Quite tricky to smirk without a mouth, you’d think.

The Multiverse has his number.

37

Dave 09.18.12 at 10:40 am

I’ve spent the last 15-20 years unpleasantly arguing with centrist/moderate friends and acquaintances , trying to get them to see what the Republican party really stands for – no abortion/no contraception, gutting the welfare state, etc’.

And now it’s as if all the masks are coming off at once – Sandra Fluke, Tod Aikin, Paul Ryan…

Interesting times.

38

bourbaki 09.18.12 at 10:42 am

So apparently this video was taken on May 17. One wonders when it came into the possession of the Team Obama. It certainly gives a new take on Harry Reid’s claim that Romney didn’t pay any taxes a certain extra vicious bite.

39

krippendorf 09.18.12 at 11:06 am

What I find interesting about all of this is that so far, the most damaging line hasn’t gotten much airplay in the mainstream media — the line where he says that the nation can’t afford to have Latinos vote like African Americans. (I’m paraphrasing, but I don’t think I’m misremembering how utterly cringeworthy the statement was.) In other words, only white people know what’s best for the country.

I fear that there are enough independent voters in swing states who genuinely believe that half the country are freeloaders, and hence that Romney can survive that gaffe. I don’t think that there are independent voters in swing states who are willing to buy into such blatant racism that he can survive the “white people know best” gaffe.

40

phosphorious 09.18.12 at 11:55 am

O’Sullivan’s (1) includes the sage advice: “Unrolling a chart at this point might help.”

As much as anything at this point, I suppose.

41

ogmb 09.18.12 at 12:12 pm

Just do a montage of pictures of smiling children – at play, in school, with their families – and nice retirees – in their homes, pictures of their younger, working selves around them – with a brutal ‘FREELOADER’ stamped across each face. And the audio of Romney over it all.

I’m actually not sure if you propose these ads for the Obama campaign or the Romney campaign, which really says everything about the state the Romney campaign is in. Someone needs an Etch-a-Sketch, and quick.

42

NickT 09.18.12 at 12:19 pm

Surely this is just Mitt’s way of telling the GOP base that he intends to vote for Obama?

43

Susanna K. 09.18.12 at 12:21 pm

Honestly, I had no idea you post about comic books. I always link over from memorandum, so I thought you just didn’t post very often. Now you’ve totally blown my image of you just sitting, brooding, waiting, until something happens that’s momentous enough to stir your typing fingers.

44

faustusnotes 09.18.12 at 12:50 pm

Kind of like an intellectual version of the Incredible Hulk, Susanna.

45

understudy 09.18.12 at 1:13 pm

Just Mitt’s “you didn’t build it” moment. Channel all the defensiveness in reaction to Obama’s foot-in-mouth and watch it boomerg back to attacking Romney. I’m sure all you rapid partisans can see the difference … I can’t. I’d make a youtube video about that, but I’d risk being hauled off by police with media reporters present ;-)

46

Niall McAuley 09.18.12 at 1:24 pm

I’m more of a torpid partisan…

47

Ben Alpers 09.18.12 at 1:40 pm

Okay, understudy, I’ll bite….

Obama’s “you didn’t build it” moment involved a single sentence taken out of context. The “moment” doesn’t really work if the sentence is taken in context. Obama never said what he is alleged to have meant, so he hasn’t made any attempt to defend his supposed statement. And it took place at an open event, not a behind-closed-doors fundraiser for the very wealthy.

In contrast, Romney’s “moment” is not less damning in context. Indeed, the context adds more damning moments. And the Romney campaign has responded by insisting that he meant what he said (though he’d prefer to have said it more “elegantly”).

In short: tu quoque fail.

(Incidentally, the go-to “both sides do it” moment this morning is Obama’s “cling” speech from 2008. This is also not really the same thing. But at least you’d make us all work a bit harder to refute the analogy.)

48

Jeffrey Davis 09.18.12 at 2:18 pm

The only decent thing politically for Romney to do now is to release his tax returns so that we can see if he’s a freeloader or not.

49

Glen Tomkins 09.18.12 at 2:22 pm

I’m not as gleeful as most about this video because I don’t hink that what Mitt says in private is at all different from what the Rs have been shouting from the rooftops for decades.

For this to hurt him with a voter, that voter would have to understand that Mitt is putting him or her in with that 47% army of moochers. But even the poorest of the working poor pays taxes, and is damn sure more aware of paying taxes than most of us because even a few hundred a year to the tax man pinches more than thousands to most of us. Of course Mitt isn’t talking about me when he condemns the 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes. He’s talking about all those millions of welfare queens who drive my taxes up, then vote Dem to keep this gravy train running!

The Rs have succeeded for decades in splitting off a huge chunk of working poor white voters with this idea that they pay taxes mainly to support an army of black and brown moochers dependent on government handouts. Lately this has worked especially well with the elderly. Just because, precisely because, this is the one group who really often don’t pay taxes, and actually do tend to live on govt checks, does not mean, at all, that they will see themselves as part of the 47% army of moochers. They think, quite rightly, that having paid into Medicare and SocSec for decades, the payback they are getting now is not at all a handout. But since they have been chatecised by decades of unanswered R propaganda to see any govt check as a handout, many literally can no longer see SocSec or Medicare as govt programs. They just exist. “Govt hands off my Medicare!” screamed that famous Teahadist sign.

Of course Romney didn’t disown these remarks. It’s the other side’s chief strategy, has been for a generation, to win elections by convining half of working class America that the Federal govt’s expenses are about 90% welfare plus foreign aid, that that govt is just a conspiracy of elite liberals to enslave working whites so that blacks and browns, foreign and domestic, don’t have to work for a living. Hell, at first I thought that his campaign had leaked the thing, as part of their recently announced intention to take the gloves off and get more militant. But the more bits they play, the clearer it becomes that if it had been the Rs releasing the thing, they would only have released the bit about the 47%. Still, if not a win for their side, this video is hardly a knockout blow against them. It may jolt you and me with its unaccustomed frankness, but we’re not the intended audience. They’ve ridden this crap to victory before, no law says they can’t do it again.

50

SASQ 09.18.12 at 2:40 pm

Well said, Glenn Tomkins

51

J. Otto Pohl 09.18.12 at 2:44 pm

Glen Tompkins:

I am not sure what the current US Federal budget is spent on. But, I am pretty sure that billions are wasted on things like agricultural subsidies for things like cotton and foreign aid to places like Israel. This may be a small portion of the total budget, but nevertheless it is quite a substantial chunk of money compared to what most people earn. So the feeling that the elites in Congress are fleecing tax payers to pay for their own pet projects does have a kernel of truth.

52

Anarcissie 09.18.12 at 3:03 pm

I’ve had the impression for some time that Romney is running to lose, presumably at the behest of the ruling class. By overtly taking absurdly right-wing and classist positions, he opens up a space for Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party establishment to move yet further to the right, thereby (they hope) taking a lot of ordinary people with them, and enabling further and greater plutocracy, militarism, police power, wealth inequality, immiseration and subjugation of the working class, and so on, without serious political resistance.

53

understudy 09.18.12 at 3:04 pm

Nah, I like the build it analogy better, for the same reasons you dismiss it. Obama’s clingers comment was condescending, but in a way that the left says “he said it for their own good” and the right, well, you know what they said.

The built it comment is NOT out of context – Obama resents/opposes/scoffs at sucessful entrepreneurs who think they’ve build it on their own. Do you dispute that this is the context and what he meant? Seemed clear to me. I don’t speak for rightwing attack ads which focus on the “build it” rather than then “on your own”. And for what it is worth, Obama has said he wished he could have been more articulate in saying what he said to mean what he meant, etc. etc. No different that Romney

54

ajay 09.18.12 at 3:13 pm

I am pretty sure that billions are wasted on things like agricultural subsidies for things like cotton and foreign aid to places like Israel.

That sets you apart from a lot of US voters, who are quite keen on ag subsidies and aid to Israel, and tend to think that the waste happens in foreign aid (25% of total federal spending, or so they believe), welfare, and bureaucracy.

55

MPAVictoria 09.18.12 at 3:26 pm

understudy did you build the roads that your drove on to work today?

I think Glen Tomkins has it exactly right at 49. None of the people voting R think they are part of the 47% that Romney is talking about. Obama may be able to use ads to change that but I am doubtful.

56

J. Otto Pohl 09.18.12 at 3:27 pm

ajay:

Aid to Israel is the single largest component of foreign aid. When I kept track of these things a long time ago it was about half the total. You can not be really be against foreign aid without opposing its largest pay outs which were first to Israel and then to Egypt as a reward for signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Who supports cotton subsidies other than large agricultural businesses growing cotton? I don’t think there are many family farms out there growing a lot of subsidized US cotton. Ending cotton subsidies would not only directly save money, but would also allow us to reduce foreign aid to countries in West Africa that export cotton. The economic benefit to places like Burkina Faso of not competing with subsidized cotton dumped on the international market by the US would far outweigh the loss of foreign aid.

57

James 09.18.12 at 3:35 pm

Gel Tomkins @49 ” But since they have been chatecised by decades of unanswered R propaganda to see any govt check as a handout, many literally can no longer see SocSec or Medicare as govt programs. They just exist. “Govt hands off my Medicare!” screamed that famous Teahadist sign.”

Both political parties present SocSec and Medicare as paid for programs similar to having paid insurance premiums. The Democrats specifically do this to protect the programs from Republican cuts. It should be expected that both Liberal and Conservative voters view these programs as something other than Government Welfare. If retirees have already paid for these services, then it is not welfare.

58

MPAVictoria 09.18.12 at 3:49 pm

” If retirees have already paid for these services, then it is not welfare.”
But they ARE still government programs.

59

ajay 09.18.12 at 4:11 pm

You can not be really be against foreign aid without opposing its largest pay outs which were first to Israel and then to Egypt as a reward for signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Obviously I was unclear. A lot of US voters think that a) aid to Israel isn’t really foreign aid and b) foreign aid makes up a huge part of the budget.

Who supports cotton subsidies other than large agricultural businesses growing cotton

Anyone who believes all that stuff about protecting the family farm.

60

phosphorious 09.18.12 at 4:20 pm

I’m still hung up on the putative graph that O’Sullivan wants Romney to brandish. There’s grist for an internet meme here: construct the pie-chart that will save Romney’s bacon.

61

chris 09.18.12 at 4:21 pm

If retirees have already paid for these services, then it is not welfare.

They haven’t. Those programs don’t work that way. Furthermore they *can’t* work that way — the only way the benefits can be anywhere near the level they are is by cross-subsidy from all the people who pay in for decades and then die in car wrecks at age 64 (e.g.) That’s why privatization is a plot to destroy the system — nobody individually could afford to save enough to support them to 90. People who live to 90 get *way* more than they ever paid in, balanced out by the people who never lived long enough to collect at all.

62

NBarnes 09.18.12 at 4:31 pm

This is one of those times that I want to teach myself video and sound editing so that I can make the ads that Holbo suggests. It’s scary good.

63

Kevin Donoghue 09.18.12 at 4:36 pm

“It almost seems unnecessary, but Freeloadergate opens the way for attack ads suggesting Romney is gearing up to expand the War On Women into a three-front war against Women, Children and the Elderly.”

You know who else opened up more fronts than he could handle?

64

ajay 09.18.12 at 4:39 pm

Further to 60, they don’t work like that because the first people to get the payments hadn’t paid anything into them at all.

65

ajay 09.18.12 at 4:40 pm

You know who else opened up more fronts than he could handle?

“Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the Heir to the Kingdom of Idiot fights a war on twelve fronts.”

66

mpowell 09.18.12 at 4:43 pm

chris @60: My opinion is that it’s mostly semantics, but it’s more accurate to call it old age insurance. For example, you can get a life annuity on the private market. And it functions remarkably similarly to SS in that it moves money from people who die early to those who die late. But yes, this is a very desirable feature to bake into SS that won’t exist in privatization by default. And it’s the one type of insurance that people are ironically way too relunctant to purchase on their own. It’s weird, but they feel like they are losing out if they die early. Well, yes you are losing out, but because you died early, not because you didn’t collect as much from your annuity.

67

bert 09.18.12 at 4:45 pm

The video was shot in Boca Raton.
Calling your town “rat’s mouth” never made much sense to me.
It makes slightly more sense now.
The host of the fundraiser sounds like a real charmer, by the way.

68

bert 09.18.12 at 4:55 pm

Although, disappointingly, “at Romney’s fundraiser at Leder’s Boca Raton home, not a single sex act was recorded”. I like Corn. He’s serious, but he’s not earnest.

69

Glen Tomkins 09.18.12 at 5:02 pm

James,

Well, what you say is part of the truth, both parties do take official and fairly (temporally) consistent positions on Medicare and SocSec that are honest representations of the social safety net as social insurance, something the elderly have already paid for. But even here you see that there’s a scam going on. Elders are entitled to Medicare and SocSec because they’ve already paid for them, but you don’t here anyone refer to this situation as an entitlement, not when they’re talking to the elderly to get their votes, because we’ve let “entitlement” become a swear word, like “liberal”. Only welfare moochers get or want “entitlements”. Honest hard-working Americans, such as the elderly I want voting for me, aren’t getting a goddam socialist moocher “entitlement” every month when they cash their SocSec check, or have Medicare pay for their Zocor.

The reason I put in that “temporally” to modify “consistent” is that, while both parties never change in their unwavering support for Medicare and SocSec, because, dammit, the elderly have already paid and deserve to get their just due back, the Rs also maintain, at the same time, an idea that is logically inconsistent with this pious, die-in-a-ditch, support for SocSec and Medicare. These programs undermine self-reliance and encourage a moocher culture, dammit, and have to go lest we continue the slide into Socialism!

There really isn’t anything new or unexpected or at all secret doctrine about what Romney says to these donors. It’s all very old stuff that they’ve been shouting from the rooftops for 40 years. It’s just that we are getting to crunch time on the cognitive dissonance, in that the zOMG SOCIALIST MOOCHERS line is passing from pure theater and mere rhetoric to actual programs they actually tell us they actually plan to implement.

To me, the only revelation I take from the video is that they are sharing the zOMG SOCIALIST MOOCHERS rhetoric with their $50,000 a plate crowd. They say this to the sweating masses and we can just pass it off as the same crap they’ve been selling to this crowd since imaginary welfare queens were first sighted driving their imaginary Cadillacs to convoy Reagan into the WH. But if they’re talking this stuff to people whom you would think know better, folks who are their real constituency, what that tells me is that this time they actually plan to implement. That, or there’s at least one respect in which the classes have levelled in America even as their incomes diverge — the rich are now incontrovertibly at least as easily gulled with fakenomics as the sweating masses. Not that we have to choose between these explanations, and can’t have both.

70

Cranky Observer 09.18.12 at 5:02 pm

= = = The host of the fundraiser sounds like a real charmer, by the way. = = =

Probably true, but he’s a much better businessman than Romney. Sun Capital is a heartless bottom-feeder, but unlike Bain they do at least attempt to salvage the distressed companies they buy. Presumably he was buttering up Romney in hopes of preserving the unconscionable “carried interest” tax break.

Cranky

71

Cranky Observer 09.18.12 at 5:05 pm

Mpowell @ 4:43: one of the world’s largest insurance companies was HQ’d in my town. I’m sure they sold plenty of old-age annuities. They were considered remarkably well-managed and stable – right up to the Friday afternoon they went bust.

Cranky

72

JW Mason 09.18.12 at 5:09 pm

People who live to 90 get *way* more than they ever paid in, balanced out by the people who never lived long enough to collect at all.

This is broadly true (and perfectly ok), but you shouldn’t forget survivors’ benefits…

73

LFC 09.18.12 at 5:09 pm

In Wash., D.C. and environs, a panda at the zoo has given birth, a boy at a Va. high school has asked a girl to a dance by dropping a stuffed animal from a helicopter hovering over a football field, and D.C. police are “cautiously” (very cautiously, one might hope) investigating reports that a man was robbed by a six-year-old. (This is all from WaPo’s local news hole. High-minded stuff, don’t you know.) Meanwhile at CT, Holbo is still wasting his time reading The Corner. And wherever he happens to be at the moment, Mitt Romney is still being an idiot. In short: nothing new here, move along.

74

Lee A. Arnold 09.18.12 at 5:18 pm

Mitt, in video: “What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other, depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

He is absolutely right, and he just blew it. Independents who thought he was just another technocrat are more likely now to see him as a smelly poisonous toad. Unrolling some toilet paper at this point might help.

75

bert 09.18.12 at 5:20 pm

they do at least attempt to salvage the distressed companies they buy
If by “salvage” you mean force a company into bankruptcy in order to stick the taxpayer with its pension liabilities. True, that would improve its cost structure somewhat.

76

Mao Cheng Ji 09.18.12 at 5:22 pm

I don’t see how this can possibly hurt him. This is their standard line, standard rhetoric; that is why people who vote Republican vote Republican. If anything, he’ll see a better turnout. Yes, of those old people who don’t pay taxes.

77

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 5:29 pm

It’s not the standard line. If it was he wouldn’t hide it. He’s trying to get elected, not write Wall Street Journal editorials.

78

mpowell 09.18.12 at 5:38 pm

cranky @70: I guess you’re arguing that there is some risk in an annuity? Well, I wouldn’t recommend putting all your money there, or in just using one firm.

79

Cranky Observer 09.18.12 at 5:45 pm

Mpowell @ 5:38: Or just use the most stable, least likely to default old-age pension system in the Solar System: the Hopkins-Roosevelt plan.

Cranky

80

MPAVictoria 09.18.12 at 5:50 pm

“It’s not the standard line. If it was he wouldn’t hide it. He’s trying to get elected, not write Wall Street Journal editorials.”
Then why is Romney doubling down?

81

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 5:54 pm

Then why is Romney doubling down?

He’s been caught.

82

Lee A. Arnold 09.18.12 at 5:56 pm

Romney is doubling down or else his base will run away from him, too.

This is why this event looks like the end of the line. It hurts Mitt because he was already losing. He must convince more independents to switch to him, and he can’t waste a week. Now in this video, he insults the independents by revealing himself to be so calculating about them. Thus he has not become more “likable”.

As if that were not bad enough? A man who won’t release his tax returns now says that other people don’t pay their fair share!

The tax returns are a big issue with the independents. It is a basic gesture of trustworthiness.

The man who was going to make the election a referendum on Obama has turned it into a referendum on himself.

83

Salem 09.18.12 at 5:58 pm

“It’s not the standard line. If it was he wouldn’t hide it. He’s trying to get elected, not write Wall Street Journal editorials.”

Romney’s response to the video is that “This is the same message I give to people in public,” but that the remarks were not “elegantly stated.” It doesn’t seem to me like he’s hiding anything.

84

Dr. Hilarius 09.18.12 at 6:06 pm

It is a standard Republican meme that the nation is saddled with welfare cheats and other social parasites. The figure of 47% is what differentiates Romney’s statement from the standard fare. It’s obviously meant to include all Obama voters. Anyone willing to give the issue a bit of thought must realize that there can’t be that many Cadillac driving welfare queens in the US. The problem, as I and others above have pointed out, is convincing independent voters and fence-sitters that they are in the population scorned by Romney. The Obama people need to make this plain to gain any advantage.

85

Substance McGravitas 09.18.12 at 6:12 pm

The Obama campaign already has the advantage. It’s Mitt that needs to win people over. Pointing out that he thinks half of Americans are somehow cheats who can’t take responsibility for themselves is not a political winner.

86

Bruce Wilder 09.18.12 at 6:17 pm

As the evidence continues to pile up, I’m not quite sure why more people do not feel compelled to accept the hypothesis that Romney is actively trying to lose the election. Or, in a more sophisticated formulation: it appears as ifthe Romney Campaign and the Republican Party are trying to lose the Presidential election.

87

MPAVictoria 09.18.12 at 6:31 pm

“As the evidence continues to pile up, I’m not quite sure why more people do not feel compelled to accept the hypothesis that Romney is actively trying to lose the election. Or, in a more sophisticated formulation: it appears as ifthe Romney Campaign and the Republican Party are trying to lose the Presidential election.”

Isn’t it easier to believe that they are just that incompetent?

88

bob mcmanus 09.18.12 at 6:39 pm

What anarcissie at 51 or bruce at 85 said, or…

Election night, as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania edge to Romney amid massive complaints of machines breaking down and voters turned away at the polls and still the numbers just come nowhere matching the pre-polls or exit polls, Democrats say” This is obviously a crudely stolen election!” and Republicans say:

“And watcha gonna do about it?”

Democrats showed what in 2000.

89

bob mcmanus 09.18.12 at 6:53 pm

“We will lawyer up and take this election and recounts all the to the Supremes, is what we’ll do!”

Roberts & Alito:”Sounds like fun.”

1 million tea-partiers with baseball bats:”Sounds like fun.”

Democrats:”Oh well, victims and martyrs again. But at least we are peaceable and play by the rules.”

90

Mao Cheng Ji 09.18.12 at 6:54 pm

“The figure of 47% is what differentiates Romney’s statement from the standard fare. “

The bottom 50% pay not income tax/the top 10% pay 50% (or whatever is it), that is a standard line.

91

Dr. Hilarius 09.18.12 at 7:01 pm

@89: not when that statement is coupled with active scorn, characterizing that bottom 47 or 50% as people unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, feeling entitled to government support.

92

Bruce Wilder 09.18.12 at 7:07 pm

MPAVictoria: “Isn’t it easier to believe that they are just that incompetent?”

uh, . . . no

mainly, because they weren’t that incompetent in 2000 or 2004 or 2010

what Anarcissie @ 51 said seems, to me, to be the easiest fit to the data

The two Parties, the two campaigns are cooperating to maintain ritual democracy, while delivering kleptocratic policy in a way that minimizes effective opposition.

It is hard to look objectively at the Obama Adminsitration, and not recognize it for a plutocrat bankster’s wet dream.

bob mcmanus’ fantasy of an obviously stolen election, if it came to pass, would represent a failure of discipline on the Republican side, though the actual developments from which bob extrapolates may represent beta testing, for the fascist state, coming soon to an America near you.

93

JW Mason 09.18.12 at 7:21 pm

If current arrangements produce a “plutocrat bankster’s wet dream,” who is supposed to be pushing the risky & expensive switch to outright fascism?

94

MPAVictoria 09.18.12 at 7:24 pm

Okay it all makes sense now Bruce. You are one of those “both parties are the same” types. Carry on.

95

Kevin Donoghue 09.18.12 at 7:41 pm

“[Republicans] weren’t that incompetent in 2000 or 2004 or 2010.”

I probably should stay out of this since I don’t have a vote in US elections. But FWIW, looking from afar, many Democrats don’t seem to appreciate that Gore and Kerry, whatever their other merits, really were not very good at connecting with voters. Obama is the most charismatic campaigner I’ve seen in my lifetime. Maybe JFK was better; back then I was a bit young to judge. Reagan and Clinton were very good, but not that good. Added to that, Obama (like Reagan) has a knack of putting the boot in without looking like a thug. In politics, as in other rough sports, it’s easy to look good if your opponents are hesitant about tackling you. Both Gore and Kerry were a bit lacking in that regard. Funnily enough, Kerry seems to have improved.

96

Marc 09.18.12 at 7:51 pm

It’s genuinely bizarre to see people here desperately spinning the incompetence of the Romney campaign as some sort of grand plutocratic plot. His backers have substantial tax increases on the line. Obama will allow the Bush tax cuts on the rich to expire. Romney will push for even larger ones.

Instead of a conspiracy, this looks more to me to simply be a consequence of letting the inmates run the asylum.

97

Bruce Wilder 09.18.12 at 8:14 pm

No, MPAVictoria, I am aware that there are differences between the two political Parties. I do not think those differences redeem Obama and the Democrats, from the charge the Administration has worked assiduously to advance the interests of a corrupt, plutocratic financial elite, at the expense of the country as a whole. Did you hear Obama calling for the election of Democratic majorities in Congress, during his nomination acceptance speech to a convention of Democrats? Did you hear him calling for cooperation with Republicans in enacting a Republican agenda of cuts to Social Security? Cause he didn’t do the former, but he did do the latter.

The point of having competing political parties and elections is that it should make the political class dependent on the electorate. I don’t think that’s happening, and I think it is pretty obvious that it is not happening.

98

Mao Cheng Ji 09.18.12 at 8:14 pm

“not when that statement is coupled with active scorn, characterizing that bottom 47 or 50% as people unwilling to take responsibility for themselves”

Why not? As long as his supporters don’t feel they are included (and they won’t), active scorn doesn’t hurt. And in the US 19% believe that they are in the top 1%. And a high number of freeloaders, close to 50%, it just adds to the drama: now you really do have to come out and vote.

99

Bruce Wilder 09.18.12 at 8:16 pm

Marc: “Obama will allow the Bush tax cuts on the rich to expire.”

What Obama “will do” isn’t really evidence. What Obama has done would be evidence.

100

Bruce Wilder 09.18.12 at 8:21 pm

JW Mason: “If current arrangements produce a “plutocrat bankster’s wet dream,” who is supposed to be pushing the risky & expensive switch to outright fascism?”

When the time to switch comes, if the switch fumbles a bit in execution, maybe we will find out.

101

Kevin Donoghue 09.18.12 at 8:37 pm

“If someone is dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they are going to have to take what they get,” Eastwood said.

Really folks, sometimes a cockup is just a cockup.

102

djw 09.18.12 at 8:43 pm

Lots of blogs out there have resident Gush-Borers, but few can approach the absurdly pompous grandiosity of those in residence here at CT.

103

Lee A. Arnold 09.18.12 at 10:05 pm

As I have long argued here (in my winningly pompous and grandiose fashion), the Republican Party has entered an historical dead-end:

1) Their economic ideology crashed into reality after 30 years of winging it, but

2) they still have to sell this junk to the true believers who are their only reliable voters.

This combination of circumstances leads to increasing confusion and contradiction in their intellectual contrivances.

Of course, the country is so phenomenally stupid that it might have worked for another go-round.

But, in the intellectual and rhetorical disarray of this slo-mo-implo, another thing has happened. A short-term disaster:

3) The Republicans have managed to nominate for President a cynical opportunist who will say anything to anybody, leaving hundreds of hours of audiotape and videotape, some of it quite damning. His public persona is “cold fish”, his old job sometimes led him to fire workers, leaving them short on healthcare and pensions. And he won’t release enough tax returns to prove he isn’t a crook.

104

ckc (not kc) 09.18.12 at 10:10 pm

…isn’t it true that the 53% aspire to join the 47% (pay less/no tax)?

105

William Timberman 09.18.12 at 10:19 pm

The only other people I know who get America the way Stephen King gets it all seem to be directing movies. I’m thinking of movies like Blue Velvet, At Close Range, Promised Land, ET, maybe, and my personal favorite, Near Dark, (which is probably my favorite because I went to high school in Oklahoma.)

Alone on the prairie, surrounded by adult zombies and their incomprehensible customs and bullying offspring, We discover some indefinable internal magic that drives us from our first day at school right through our adolescence, headlong and heedless of the attempts to discourage us, until the light goes out at last, and we become zombies ourselves. I’m sure there are other versions of this particular romanticism, but King is the most recognizably and truly American one I’m aware of. His pitch is absolutely perfect.

106

William Timberman 09.18.12 at 10:19 pm

Gack, wrong thread, sorry….

107

faustusnotes 09.19.12 at 1:24 am

If we’re going for conspiracy theories, can I suggest that this is actually a play by the lunar right to get Romney kicked and Ryan moved up? It might not win them this election but it tells a cautionary tale about selecting “moderates” and sets the scene for a lunar right assault in 2016. Also, isn’t Ryan a much better performer than Romney? I can see him finding a way to smooth it over, using his small town origins (puke) to reassure the 47% he understands them, etc.

Maybe it wasn’t an Obama sympathizer who leaked the video?

108

chris 09.19.12 at 2:04 am

It is hard to look objectively at the Obama Adminsitration, and not recognize it for a plutocrat bankster’s wet dream.

I guess plutocrat banksters aren’t very objective then, because they’re backing Romney to the hilt with gazillions of their own personal dollars.

Don’t you think that if the fix were really in, they would save their money? How did they ever become plutocrats if they can’t manage it any better than that?

Anyway, back in reality…
As if that were not bad enough? A man who won’t release his tax returns now says that other people don’t pay their fair share!

It’s worse than that. In one of the primaries Romney made a comment to the effect that if you eliminated capital gains taxes (as one of the other Republican candidates had proposed doing), he wouldn’t have paid any taxes. In other words, ROMNEY HIMSELF is one of those non-income-tax-paying, government-dependent moochers who can never be convinced to take responsibility for their lives. Or he’s just completely full of shit.

Or both, of course.

109

Anarcissie 09.19.12 at 3:06 am

chris 09.19.12 at 2:04 am:
‘I guess plutocrat banksters aren’t very objective then, because they’re backing Romney to the hilt with gazillions of their own personal dollars. …’

Rich people’s money is different from poor people’s money in that there is always more of it, at least under current arrangements. Didn’t the state just impart another helping? I lose track of these things.

In any event, I think the r.c. will be comfortable with either candidate, but it does not want trouble, in the sense of organized resistance. As Mr. O can lead even the proggies by the nose, he would be the more desirable master of ceremonies. But if by some chance the folk elect Romney and Ryan, okay, they asked for it, let them have it with both barrels. The switch to outright fascism will be made when and as needed.

110

Michael Harris 09.19.12 at 3:38 am

I, non-voting non-American, concur with Lee Arnold @ #103, viz:

“As I have long argued here (in my winningly pompous and grandiose fashion), the Republican Party has entered an historical dead-end:”

It seems to me as an outsider that the Republican strategy for some time now has involved “consuming its own political capital”, telling stories that over time become more extreme and less plausible. I don’t think it’s in a steady state where comparisons to what worked in 2000 or 2004 should be made assuming they would keep on working. I think a high-stakes strategy (bolstered by 9/11) shifted the Overton Window, and it’s slowly shifting back in the opposite direction, because to keep it shifted requires ever-more-extreme positions to be stated quite explicitly (even if they were visible to those who looked for them).

The “dog whistles” are becoming audible now.

111

Michael Harris 09.19.12 at 5:42 am

The dog whistles are becoming audible now.

Things that have been said by Republicans and not gotten much attention are now getting much more attention than they ever used to.

112

Chris Bertram 09.19.12 at 6:47 am

Since we all know that nearly all drivers think they’re above average, we can hardly exclude the possibility that nearly all Americans think that they are in the 53 per cent of “makers” and not in the 47%. Given this, it may not be such a damaging gaffe after all.

113

Salient 09.19.12 at 9:44 am

Since we all know that nearly all drivers think they’re above average, we can hardly exclude the possibility that nearly all Americans think that they are in the 53 per cent of “makers” and not in the 47%.

Sure, but even if this self-conception holds, most Americans who pay attention to this kind of thing also know that freeloaders can’t possibly amount to nearly half the country, and they know by the 47% Romney basically means most Obama voters, so Obama partisans figure he’s talking about them and give off a sentiment of “who you callin’ freeloader, bigshot? I pay my dues.” Even if they, paradoxically, don’t. (Personally seeing a lot of this from college students currently. There does seem to be a nearly universal misconception that paying tax withholdings each pay period counts as paying income tax, even if it’s all refunded to you when you file taxes…)

114

Phil 09.19.12 at 11:54 am

There does seem to be a nearly universal misconception that paying tax withholdings each pay period counts as paying income tax, even if it’s all refunded to you when you file taxes

In the country where I’m typing, “paying tax withholdings each pay period” is paying income tax – it’s how most people do it. (Where ‘most’ is less than 99%, but covers just about everybody who’s not self-employed or living off rents.)

Are you saying that the IRS gives you back the tax you’ve already paid? And people complain?

115

NomadUK 09.19.12 at 11:59 am

most Americans who pay attention to this kind of thing

Well, that’s rather the key, isn’t it?

116

faustusnotes 09.19.12 at 12:06 pm

I just watched the video, and I’m guessing that the guys serving coffee at the dinner where he spoke also don’t pay income tax. I wonder if one of them planted the mobile phone that took the footage? Gotta be careful what you say in front of the help, etc.

He comes across as quite fervent in that video, too – not just spouting a party line, but really into the message he’s giving. An all round charmer, our Mitt!

117

Maggie 09.19.12 at 1:15 pm

“As long as his supporters don’t feel they are included (and they won’t), active scorn doesn’t hurt.” (Mao Cheng Ji @98)

“…we can hardly exclude the possibility that nearly all Americans think that they are in the 53 per cent of “makers” and not in the 47%. Given this, it may not be such a damaging gaffe after all.” (Chris Bertram @112)

Could be, but “his supporters” were going to vote for him anyway – so to that extent “scorn doesn’t hurt,” at least as long as you assume, somewhat incredibly, that no-one who would take offense to his formulation voted for McCain – and as Romney himself said, this is a calculation about swing voters. For this not to hurt Romney with them, they’d all have to not only be generally/historically willing to swing their vote, but unoffended by Romney’s polarizing dismissal of a huge segment of the country – they have to buy into the Republican narrative of resentment so completely that their only concern is that he wasn’t talking about them, personally. I don’t think the kind of person who’s sometimes willing to swing Democrat, particularly for a black guy (remember per hypothesis these are Obama ’08 voters he’s trying to switch), is going to fall for that. Certainly not in large enough numbers to actually help Romney. The logic requires swing voters – swing voters who went for Obama in ’08 – who think like Tea Partiers. It requires the corporate-subsidized us vs. them narrative to actually be true. So I’m not too worried about it. Naively optimistic of me, perhaps, but I do still believe in America, that is I still believe many Americans possess, even if weakly, the virtues that permit one to describe such divisiveness as un-American. Besides, the reason it was said in secret, the reason the leak is a problem, is that even if it were true otherwise, Romney’s calculation is the kind of thing that only works if the people it’s about don’t catch wind of it.

The bit about 19% thinking they are the 1% is very interesting, if true, because it suggests that it’s possible, indeed routine, to be a high earner but also innumerate, economically ignorant, and blind to the big picture. As I’ve said before I think it’s an important bit of Republican strategy to make the upper middle class (Wikipedia says top quintile starts around $92K) imagine that they share the interests of the wealthy. They’ll stupidly vote to keep paying more than the plutocrats do, in the guise of lowering their rates relative to the next tax bracket down (never mind that the truly rich have scarcely any income of the type to which those brackets apply – if you don’t know that barely six digits doesn’t make you 1%, you probably know next to nothing about the tax code either); keeping the upper middle-class in a high tax bracket does triple duty of flattering their egos, priming them for resentment and – important but not much discussed – depriving them of funds that they might otherwise have used to compete for positions in the true upper class.

118

tib 09.20.12 at 3:07 am

On Republican false consciousness, Romney is not the only actor in this campaign.

Much of the Republican base is cross-pressured, they are desperately dependent on social insurance but they don’t want to split it with those undeserving others. Obama’s task is to convince them that Romney and Ryan mean what they say, that they will raise the taxes and cut the benefits of the Republican base in order to cut the taxes of the 1%. People give more credence to the things politicians say ‘behind closed doors’, the Obama campaign is quite good at using Romney’s words to put a wedge between him and his base.

119

js. 09.20.12 at 3:30 am

Umm, this is only sort of on topic, but just in case anyone was wondering about the Teh Absolute Crazy (from same fundraiser):

Audience member: How are you going to win if 54 percent of the voters think China’s economy is bigger than ours? Or if it costs 4 cents to make a penny and we keep making pennies? Canada got it right a month ago. Why isn’t someone saying, “Stop making pennies, round it to the nearest nickel?” You know, that’s an easy thing, compared to Iran. I want to see you take the gloves off and talk to people that actually read the paper and read the book and care about knowing the facts and acknowledges power. As opposed to people who are swayed by, you know, what sounds good at the moment. If you turned it into like, “Eat what you kill,” it’d be a landslide. In my humble opinion.

from Kevin Drum

The last two sentences are pretty priceless.

120

js. 09.20.12 at 3:33 am

Sorry, link fixed: from Kevin Drum

121

JW Mason 09.20.12 at 4:37 am

Why isn’t someone saying, “Stop making pennies, round it to the nearest nickel?”

What’s crazy about that? – the persistence of the penny is infuriating. Any candidate who ran on a get-rid-of-the-penny platform would at least get my respectful attention.

Not so sure about “Eat what you kill.” But it is a bit reminiscent of Horace Greeley’s 1872 presidential slogan, which I humbly suggest would be a perfect fit for the Romney campaign: “Root, Hog, or Die!”

122

js. 09.20.12 at 4:51 am

Why isn’t someone saying, “Stop making pennies, round it to the nearest nickel?”

What’s crazy about that? – the persistence of the penny is infuriating. Any candidate who ran on a get-rid-of-the-penny platform would at least get my respectful attention.

Agreed. It’s more just the overall dream-logic of the paragraph that I find amazing. I mean read “the paper”; I even read a book or two every so often. And then I think, I gotta kill that raccoon in the back yard for dinner! If only Romney spoke to me!

123

js. 09.20.12 at 5:17 am

Having now read almost all of the comments, and noting the point that several people have made: viz., that lots and lots of people who fall into the 47% percent in question and are already inclined to vote for Romney don’t and won’t realize that they’re actually part of the 47%; moreover that the “47%” rhetoric has been a standard part of Rep rhetoric for a while, etc., this Jon Chait piece is fairly relevant I think. (Snapshot: the video confirms voters suspicions of Romney as a sneering plutocrat all too well. This is a problem for Romney.)

124

JW Mason 09.20.12 at 5:25 am

It’s more just the overall dream-logic of the paragraph that I find amazing. I mean read “the paper”; I even read a book or two every so often. And then I think, I gotta kill that raccoon in the back yard for dinner! If only Romney spoke to me!

You know how people say lol? I really am.

125

js. 09.20.12 at 5:40 am

@JW Mason: Thanks!

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