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.