Mitt “Out of Touch” Romney

You are a lazy, irresponsible moocher feeding off of the successful in this country and don’t you forget it!

Earlier this week, it was revealed via video leak that earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a room full of wealthy donors that 47 percent of Americans are essentially lazy and “entitled” because they don’t pay income taxes. He said he wasn’t even going to try to get their votes because they were going to “vote for this president no matter what” (said with disdain).

“I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney told the donors.

Despite the fact that insulting half the country probably isn’t the best campaign strategy, Romney’s comments highlight just how disconnected and out of touch with average Americans he is.

If you go to college, you are a part of the 47 percent. As a college student (assuming you work a minimum wage job part-time and go to school full-time), you pay no federal income tax.

The other groups of people who don’t pay income taxes: the elderly and the poor. Elderly tax benefits make up 44 percent of that 47 percent figure Romney mentioned. Tax credits for children and the working poor make up another 30.4 percent.

A large majority of the 47 percent is made up of households earning less than $20,000 a year. That number has grown the past few years in light of the economic downturn. The poor, more than any other group, have been hit the hardest.

Social mobility (the ability to climb the economic ladder into success) is at an all-time low. Inversely, the amount of wealthy households paying no federal income tax is at an all-time high.

With economic policies that have solely benefitted the richest in America, the past decade has seen the number of wealthy households NOT paying income taxes skyrocket. Last year alone, 110,000 households making over $200,000 a year paid $0 in federal income taxes. That number includes 7,000 households that made over one million dollars.

Another interesting fact: Eight of the ten states with the highest amount of those who paid no federal income taxes are “red” states, meaning they vote Republican during presidential elections.

What exactly is Mitt Romney trying to accomplish by insulting half the country, including many of his own supporters?
No candidate is perfect and all of them make mistakes or say things they probably should not say. That’s politics and the ugly truth of campaigning.

However, trashing half the country as lazy and entitled is not only the worst campaign strategy, it’s offensive.

We’re slowly coming out of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Families are hurting. Many have been laid off. The prospects have been dim.

Romney’s tax plan calls for massive tax cuts for the wealthy and massive tax hikes for the poor and middle class. If you object, it’s because you’re some kind of parasite. It’s only fair, people!

Mitt Romney doesn’t care about those who have the audacity to be poor or elderly (see the Romney/Ryan Medicare “plan”). His robotic callousness towards the nation’s vulnerable shows what he really thinks of America.

In Romney’s America, only the wealthy deserve the rewards of living here. The traditional idea of everyone being given an equal opportunity to succeed is radically foreign to Mitt Romney. It doesn’t compute.

photo credit: AP

By the way, this blog post was also published as an opinion piece in my university newspaper, The Collegian (CSU Fresno). Feel free to see it here. I’ll be writing opinion pieces for The Collegian every two weeks…I’m pretty excited 😀

Rich/Poor Gap Widens, America Declines

Poverty in the United States is on the rise. According to the 2010 US Census, the poverty rate in the United States rose to 15.1 percent, the highest it’s been in 17 years. Obviously, this means the median annual income also dropped…by 2 percent and down to $49,445. In fact, during the past decade, the Middle Class saw rather mediocre income growth, the poor saw virtually none and the rich saw a steady rise (in the face of large tax cuts for America’s wealthy).

The 2001 Bush Tax cuts brought the highest marginal tax rate down from 39.6 percent to 35%. During President Bush’s term, America also entered two expensive wars….and did not raise taxes to help fund them. We lost several thousand American troops in the fight to weaken al-Qaeda and take out Osama Bin Laden. We’ve done that and yet the war(s) rages on. Rather than end the wars (or at least vastly reduce the number of service members),  Uncle Sam decided to cut services. Oh, we also [still] have service members in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and South Korea. The last time I checked, WWII and the Korean War ended.

Had it not been for unemployment insurance, the poverty rate would undoubtedly be higher.

I am not trying to instigate a class war. To the contrary: I hope to be rich some day! The ability to reach one’s dreams through hard work and talent is one of the greatest things about this country. Millions flock to America for the chance at making it big. However, I am against policies and actions that make things better for the well-off at the expense of everyone else. That is the very definition of irresponsible.

It is irresponsible to maintain the status quo in healthcare availability, for example, while entire families go uninsured because they cannot afford even basic care. It is irresponsible to leave a person’s teeth to rot in their mouths because they cannot afford a procedure at the dentists’ office. It is irresponsible for intelligent and hard-working young people to have to drop out of college because they cannot afford it. I have personally witnessed all of these situations (and lived through the last one – thankfully, I’ll be returning to college this coming Spring 2012 semester).

I’m not an expert and I don’t have all the answers. However, I do wonder where our government’s priorities have gone. My simple proposal is this: return tax rates to what they were under President Clinton (39.6% as the highest marginal tax rate), end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and actually bring the service members home and invest in extremely valuable things like education, jobs programs, infrastructure and science and technology. Poets and authors predicted that the 21st century would be golden. Let’s fulfill their prophecies.