By Ralph Nader
There was something missing from the release of a tape showing Mitt Romney pandering to fat cats in Boca Raton, Florida with these very inflammatory words: “There are 47 percent who are with him, (Obama) 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. These are people who pay no income tax.” Romney said his job “is not to worry about those people.”
Hey, Mitt, why start with the 47 percent? Fully 100 percent of the nation’s 500 biggest corporations are dependent on various kinds of corporate welfare – subsidies, giveaways, bailouts, waivers, and other dazzling preferences – while many pay no tax at all on very substantial profits (see their familiar names – General Electric, Pepco, Verizon etc. – here).
Are the corporations that receive this corporate welfare going to vote for President Obama? (Mr. Romney has declared that corporations are people.) Of course they’re not. Nor are all of the 47 percent of people who are “dependent upon government.”
Mr. Romney doesn’t understand the double standard where government checks, whether already paid for or not, to people are called “entitlements” while far bigger checks to corporations are called “incentives.” Romney has lost control of his self-consciousness. Here is a man who talks about 47 percent of American households paying no income taxes (more on this later) while he has refused, unlike his father, to release back years of tax returns because they’ll show he has parked much of his wealth and income in foreign tax havens like the Bahamas precisely in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Indeed, as tax expert and former New York Times Pulitzer prize-winner David Cay Johnston said on Democracy Now, Romney has maneuvered the tax laws so that his five sons will continue to receive millions of tax-free dollars from their parents’ enormous pot of wealth.
Why aren’t the big-time Democrats making much more of an issue of this “make or break” Romney campaign vulnerability? Maybe it is because, as author Kevin Phillips once said, “The Republicans go for the jugulars while the Democrats go for the capillaries.”
Now, either ignorance, callousness or both infected Mitt Romney’s pejorative characterizations of the “government dependent” 47 percent with victim mentalities who believe that they are entitled to the government providing them the necessities of life without paying income tax. Let’s see who these people are in these recessionary times. Unemployed Americans. Americans who are too poor to pay income taxes. Elderly Americans who live on their social security checks from money for which they spent their decades of working years paying. Americans using the “earned income tax credit,” so vigorously supported and extended by President Ronald Reagan. And disabled Americans who have no dollars for any income tax.
What do many of the 47 percent pay to the government? They pay payroll taxes for social security and Medicare, federal fees and state and local taxes on their property, and sales taxes.
The avarice of Romney and his buddies at the strip-mining, job-exporting, bankrupting private equity company called Bain Capital has no bounds. He thinks it’s perfectly fine for companies like Verizon, Boeing, Duke Energy, Navistar, Wells Fargo and Pepco to use all of our country’s government funded public infrastructures and services, and yet not only pay no income tax but actually rig the tax system so they can get billions back in “benefits” from the U.S. Treasury, as General Electric has done for years. At the same time, Romney never speaks out against 35,000 super-wealthy Americans who also do not pay any federal income tax. He rarely questions crony capitalism, wants to maintain an even bigger bloated military budget, and spearheads the many-sided supremacy of corporations over real people throughout our entire political economy. He is, essentially, a corporation running for president masquerading as an individual.
If the Democrats are anything but inept and defeatist, they will wrap Romney around Congressman Paul Ryan, his vice-presidential nominee, and recover the Congress in November. The Romney-Ryan campaign is now hanging by a few threads, unmasked even before those millions of American voters who dutifully vote for politicians who disrespect and betray their economic plight and political powerlessness once in office.
The so-called presidential debates are coming up (see Open Debates.org). Let’s see if President Obama thinks it is fair play to recall Mr. Romney’s words and put his underlying real values on the table before tens of millions of viewers.
Romney’s excursus in Boca Raton was not a gaffe. It was the inner Romney, raised by good Romneys but braised by the fevered extremists in his party who have asserted that today Ronald Reagan himself would not receive their vote.
(Kudos to David Corn and Mother Jones magazine for bringing the Romney tape to the American people.)
– Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of ‘Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us’. Visit: www.nader.org.