Opinion: I'm a 47-Percenter Romney Needs to Win

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 04:48 PM

I'm exactly the sort of swing voter that Romney needed to convince to win this election: A centrist independent who voted for Obama last time, wont make that same mistake again and is looking for an alternative. I'm also someone who has lived in that bottom 47 percent of earners my entire (albeit short - I'm only 32) adult life, as has the vast majority of people I know. 

The video that started this whole firestorm ends with Romney talking about needing to convince "the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not."

Insulting swing voters, with stupid stereotypes about voting emotionally, aside... a whole heck of a lot of us are in that 47 percent percent, and from the polls I've been seeing, more and more of us are leaning toward voting for Obama, or at least not voting for Romney. Finding out that this is how Mitt Romney talks about us when he thinks he's safe from prying eyes is very telling. If the Obama campaign is smart, they'll blast that out to swing voters in battleground states.

First let's check the math: Of the 46 percent (Mitt was off by a point, but we'll let that slide), about 10 percent are elderly folks that take in a significant portion of their income from Social Security. This is important to note since Mitt polls well with older Americans, and it would be ridiculous to pay out benefits to Social Security and then go ahead and tax them.

So now we have about 36 percent... but, as several news outlets reported, a bit over 28 percent pay payroll taxes, and at a higher rate than Romney did on his capital gains driven income from the years of his taxes he's released. This isn't even to mention all the other taxes, fees and payments that people pay to the government through whatever economic activities they take part in.
A nice pie chart on over at CNN illustrates how ridiculous of a claim this is, showing that really only a bit under 8 percent or 19 percent (depending on whether you want to knock retired folks on Social Security) don't pay federal taxes. Most of that 8 percent (6.9 percent) make less that 20,000 a year.

One wonders how many of them are young people just getting out of school, soldiers just come home from war and relying on government benefits while they decide what they do with the rest of their lives, students actually in school and living on loans, and are likely to pay plenty of taxes in the future? How many more of them are only there because they lost a better job because of the recession, and will bounce back when the economy does?

On top of all this garbage, one of the main reasons that taxes are so low on a lot of people is very specifically because of policy pushed by Republicans, much of it making perfect sense. For example - how many millions of low income families end up paying no income taxes because of the child deductions?

So Republicans pushed to cut taxes on these folks... and now their standard bearer is attacking them for not paying taxes, and the right wing blogosphere is going nuts calling roughly half of the country lazy moochers that are voting for Obama because he's going to continue to enable their lazy mooching.

One of the most cogent responses on this issue over the last few days comes from conservative commentator Reihan Salam (who I actually met in Tampa - nice fella) on over at National Review. Among other things, here is what he had to say about the child tax credit:

"Tax credits for parents are arguably an extremely low-cost way to recognize the fact that raising the next generation constitutes an expensive investment in human capital that will yield dividends for society as a whole. Tax breaks for Social Security payments, meanwhile, can be defended on the grounds that they are not likely to create significant work disincentives."

Those lazy mooches... deciding to have children, paying less in taxes because of it, and helping strengthen the long term viability of Social Security and Medicare... yeah, makes perfect sense.

I don't often find that I agree with liberal commentator Michael Tomasky, but he really hit the nail on the head as to how this plays with voters when he said this on over at The Daily Beast:

"People on the right will blame the media. But the real culprit is the words themselves. They slander millions of hard-working Americans."

It is slanderous, and he deserves to lose support for uttering these words.

I wrote a few days back that the Romney camp was going to have to come up with some major October suprises to mount a comeback, but in the days since I wrote that he's just dug himself an even bigger hole. In boxing terms, it's getting to the point where camp Romney has lost so many rounds that their only path to victory is a big knockout of a controversy of some kind.



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Comments [7]



A fair question, but you won't get an honest answer from him. He'll cloud the discussion with vague bullshit like Obama "leads from behind," and doesn't "use the bully pulpit," and various other non-answers which he's cultivated to sustain the false balancing act.

Other fair-minded people have asked him that question before, and he's never given an answer that actually acknowledges the conditions under which Obama became president. He's deliberately dismissive of Obama's accomplishments, frequently refers to him as "corrupt," and even when Obama does something he agrees with (like intervene in Libya), he contrives convoluted bullshit excuses to criticize him for it -- in other words, he moves the goalposts. It's rather pathetic, honestly.

He'll have you believe that if only Obama had just tried to work with congress more, everything would have come together. He does this because he has no idea how Congress actually functions. He never mentions the devastating obstruction of filibuster abuse, or anything approaching a fair acknowledgment of the GOP's single-minded impediment to governance and even economic recovery. These realities never factor into his judgment of Obama.

Kleinsmith previously portrayed the PPACA mandate as some abhorrent unconstitutional injustice, decrying that Obama had "flip-flopped" on the issue, when the reality was that he had to *compromise* with centrist holdouts in the Senate because a public option could never overcome the filibuster to be passed. Obama sacrificed his ideal legislation for getting something accomplished, even if imperfect, with his political capital and Kleinsmith's reaction was to shit all over it as an abomination. Again, he doesn't understand how government works.

Kleinsmith is also dishonest about who his political allies are on subjects like campaign finance and transparency. He likes to pretend that Obama has abandoned these things, becoming "just as bad" as Republicans. Of course that's more bullshit, but he needs excuses to wedge his fetishezed centrism in somewhere, so such cognitive dissonance is required.

You know, both sides do it and Obama's just a lesser eeeeeeeeeevil, which is apparently no different from evil-evil. Long live the centrist fetish!

Sep. 20 2012 07:44 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

I hate to insert myself in this lovely exchange but I would like to ask Mr. Kleinsmith why do you think Obama is such a poor president?
Given the circumstances of his arrival into office on the beginning of the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression; with a frozen financial system; two wars and the on-going devastating opposition of a Republican Party which, from the very beginning, has demonstrated that its main objective was not to govern the country but to destroy the administration (with the tax ceiling controversy of last summer being the ultimate evidence).
I mean, yes, the economic recovery has been weak but that is expected following the bursting of a huge financial bubble. When it happened in Japan in the 90s it lasted for a whole decade (the "lost decade").
But, the trend has been reversed and month after month, there has been growth and there could have been more if the Keynesian stimulus was allowed to be adequate to the size of the crater left behind by the GOP. You could argue that people didn't have the stomach for more deficit spending. Ok, but then let's all accept the sluggishness of the recovery. In the 1940s what really ended the sluggishness of the American economy was WWII that, in addition to the New Deal, forced unprecedented (spending and thus the stimulating effect of a suddenly spiking aggregate demand.
I don't want to sound like a campaign mouthpiece but the auto bailout also showed that the govt., with a small, temporary intervention, was able to save thousands of jobs that would have otherwise gone to be lost, thus worsening the deflationary spiral of the crisis.
In foreign policy, Obama has been very effective at pursuing American interests without Bush's idiotic swagger that cost the country so much in terms of money, lives and image abroad. Bin Laden is dead and so is Gaddafi and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen has been decimated by drones.
He has introduced sensible legislation such as equal pay for women; the end of “Don't ask don't tell and has finally done SOMETHING about what you rightly point out as one of the main threats to the fiscal stability of the country: the raising cost of health care (without even mentioning the expansion of coverage and the end of institutionalized abuse resulting from refusal of care).
So, I don't get it. You say that you are not going to repeat the mistake of voting for Obama again. But why? What would you expect him to do given the hand he has been dealt?

Sep. 20 2012 05:52 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"A write-in vote for President is a WASTED vote, and you know it. You may as well scribble in Mickey Mouse for all such an act will accomplish. Nobody gives a shit about your whiny protest vote, much less the Electoral College."

What do I care what people think about how I use my vote?

I don't vote because of how other people might react to it. I vote my own conscience.

Do you vote because of how other people will react when they hear about it?

Sep. 20 2012 04:03 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"Haha. Wait, how can they *both* be "lesser evils"? That phrase requires that one has to be worse than the other to justify the relative difference, and hence, strategic vote. You're a parody of yourself."

The only thing being parodied here is you pretending that you're anything more than a clown. I was using the term in a general sense for gawd's sake. As I've said several times here, and dozens of times elsewhere (probably hundreds), I think Obama is the lesser evil - but I don't vote for lesser evils. I think Obama is a poor president, and Romney would be worse.

I'm only willing to vote for people that I think would at least do a good job. Could care less if that bothers you, or anyone else. Doesn't bother me that you have a different set of standards - it's YOUR vote, do with it as you see fit. Again, with you, all you do is vomit your hatred of those who see the world differently than you... sad little man that you are.

Sep. 20 2012 03:59 PM


It's not simply a matter of disagreeing with you, it's a matter of calling out your dishonest bullshit, which you continuously peddle here and other places. I've already registered my disagreements with you, and explained them. It's more important, to point out that you're a dissembler and that your political insights are a self-serving fraud. I guess that qualifies as "demonic," to you, but I see it as incredibly human on your part, almost pedestrian.

"I don't see anyone running right now who even gets close, and I'd MUCH rather write someone in than enable any of the lesser evils with my vote."

Haha. Wait, how can they *both* be "lesser evils"? That phrase requires that one has to be worse than the other to justify the relative difference, and hence, strategic vote. You're a parody of yourself.

You treat voting as if it's your virginity, preciously guarded for Mr. Right, lest ye be sullied and spoiled by some unworthy interloper. But when Mr. Right never shows up, well, you'll fantasize and write him in, every i dotted with a heart.

A write-in vote for President is a WASTED vote, and you know it. You may as well scribble in Mickey Mouse for all such an act will accomplish. Nobody gives a shit about your whiny protest vote, much less the Electoral College.

Regarding "I don't see anyone running right now..." -- do you expect somebody ELSE to get in the race with 7 weeks to go? This is the same deluded nonsense that got you burned with Americans Elect. You're waiting for Superman.

Voting isn't a grand romantic act, it's a practical one. It allows citizens to influence their country's leadership, but you've proudly declared that you're going to piss away that influence to indulge your conceited notions of political purity. You've effectively nullified your own participation in the election, yet you still grouse ineloquent about it.

It's a joke, and by extension, you are as well -- you're Clint Eastwood's empty chair.

Sep. 20 2012 11:55 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"So, Sol, you acknowledge that Mitt Romney is both wrong and highly offensive in his attack on half of Americans, including yourself, but you're still holding out hope that he'll yet convince you to vote for him, sparing you the indignity of totally throwing your vote away?"

I've blogged in a lot of places over the years, but you are one of the dumbest commenters I've seen on any of them...

I'm not holding out hope for Romney to change my mind. I neither said, nor implied anything remotely similar to saying that. You consistently read all sorts of idiotic things in between the lines of what I say. It really doesn't bother me that you disagree - it's that you're such a moron about it. Just say you disagree and why. All this this other garbage just shows you to be a jerk not worth taking seriously.

I might have been with Romney circa 2002, but that version/mask of Romney would have never made it through the republican primary. I don't think I've said a single time in the last six or so years that I'd even consider voting for Romney... and I have no idea how even a drunkard like you would come to such a conclusion without any evidence at all.

Everyone has their own standards as to who they're going to vote for and why. Personally, I think that the only indignity that anyone can have in voting is voting for someone they don't believe is worthy of the office, isn't up to the task of running the country well, is dishonest, etc... I don't see anyone running right now who even gets close, and I'd MUCH rather write someone in than enable any of the lesser evils with my vote.

Once I actually took a look at Huntsman, I didn't like what I saw. Wouldn't have gotten my vote under any circumstance.

And I do some analysis, but most of what I do here is commentary. You're just such an ideological freak that you apparently can't see anyone who disagrees with you without projecting demons onto them.

Sep. 20 2012 02:19 AM

Uh yeah, there will be no October surprise. Mitt already tried to carve one out in September by crassly and dishonestly attacking President Obama over the deaths of diplomatic personnel in Libya. Funny enough, in the Mother Jones video, Romney even alludes to this, saying that if some overseas incident occurs, he'll attemp to seize on it to his political advantage. It, of course, blew up in his face.

So, Sol, you acknowledge that Mitt Romney is both wrong and highly offensive in his attack on half of Americans, including yourself, but you're still holding out hope that he'll yet convince you to vote for him, sparing you the indignity of totally throwing your vote away?

Your political calculus is as masochistic as it is contradictory. You previously said you'd never vote for Romney, and since you won't vote Obama either, you're left with not voting or throwing your vote away on some non-candidate. This is really stupid for somebody as interested in politics as you are, but I guess that's the hallmark of fetishized centrism. Gonna write in Jon Huntsman?

If you haven't made up your mind about Mitt Romney by now, you're a joke. If you have, and are just pretending you haven't for the sake of this "Romney needs to pander to us magical independents" wank-off, then you're a deceptive hack.

This is what happens when you peddle garbage and call it political analysis.

Sep. 19 2012 11:48 AM

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