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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Romney reveals he’s not fit to lead

Published: September 21, 2012
Section: Opinions

Many of us have seen the leaked video of Mitt Romney, speaking privately about Obama voters who he feels pay no federal income taxes: the “47 percent that believe they are entitled to health-care, food, housing, to you-name it.”
He continues to say that these people “do not take personal responsibility or care for their lives.” Romney’s elitist comments throughout the video have obviously stirred negative emotion among many voters during this closely contested presidential campaign.
The outrage is justified, even if you were to look at the percent of voters being cast away in Romney’s view, 47 percent, an astonishing percentage and nearly half of Americans. He makes these people seem worthless, intimating that they do nothing to help society. More importantly though, who is it that makes up this 47 percent he casts away? Are there really that many people that don’t pay taxes—so-called free-loaders living off of the system?
Some quick fact-checking reveals that the majority pay payroll taxes but are exempt from income taxes as their salaries don’t meet the prescribed minimum income levels, or are elderly people or young people, including dependents. notes simply, “Most of [the 47 percent] are working people who simply do not earn very much money.”
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center also clarifies those who make up this 47 percent of the implied “freeloaders.” Many are older people on Social Security whose adjusted gross income is less than $25,000. An additional 15.2 percent receive tax credits for children. The rest are the working poor.
Sorry, Romney, but you may want to check the facts before you make such bold claims. It is elitist to throw together 47 percent of the people and label them as those that “feel they are entitled.”
There are also people who lower their tax rates, or who have paid federal income taxes all the way up until retirement but are still thrown into the 47 percent. Only 18.1 percent of American households paid neither federal income taxes nor payroll taxes in 2011, according to the Tax Policy Center. Of that 18.1 percent, 10.3 percent were elderly and 6.9 percent were non-elderly households earning less than $20,000 year, which include low-income families and students.
It makes no sense, logically or even politically, that Romney would just write-off such a large part of the country. Expressing support and finding solutions, including market oriented solutions for those in need has been what America expects from presidential candidates, rather than dividing the country along imaginary lines, based on willingness or unwillingness to adhere to a conservative vision. By contrast, despite flaws Obama’s plan seems intent on addressing the needs and aspirations of all Americans, regardless of their political beliefs.
Romney seems to ignore, at his political peril, those Americans who don’t fit his prosper-in-a-free market litmus test. They will ignore him back at the polls, because a president is not supposed to lead only those people whom he views as worthy of his attention.
With students graduating with higher and higher amounts of debt and embarking straight into a troubled economy we can relate to those who are struggling to pay the bills.