In the ongoing coverage of Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment, CNBC has inadvertently turned up an interesting point: More than three-fourths of the business and finance site's readers agree with the Republican presidential candidates disrespectful description of Americans who pay effectively no income taxes:
As noted, the poll is not scientific, but it does strengthen my hope that there might be a more critical popular brouhaha coming about makers, takers and (the largest class of all) maker/takers. I don't believe all of those 28,000 CNBC readers are in fact not getting anything from Uncle Sam, in part because it's so hard not to receive public largesse in some form or another, and also because Medicare and Social Security ensure that eventually nearly everybody will end up on the public tit. In time, President Obama's supporters will hit back with lists of all the "benefits" we didn't realize we were getting from the federal government, but this too helps move the argument along. As our $16 trillion national debt shows, we can't go on like this.
I'm also encouraged to see Romney's campaign, which initially seemed to be running away from these comments, starting to realize that broadening the tax base and shrinking the beneficiary base is an argument worth making. From CNBC:
Romney's campaign said the Republican is concerned about Americans who are poor and unemployed.
"Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," Gail Gitcho, Romney's campaign communications director, said in a statement issued in response to a request for comment…
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus jumped to Romney's defense.
"I think that we are entering into a dependency society in this country, that if we don't break that up, I think that's going to be very hard for us to compete in the world," he told CNN. "I don't think the candidate's off message at all."
[Brush with Greatness: Garrett Quinn and I ran into Priebus at a Fuddruckers in an unfashionable part of Alexandria, Virginia the other day, and if nothing else it speaks well of the RNC chief that he gets his lovely family out of the District of Columbia on weekends.]
Yesterday, Romney told Fox, "We believe in free people and free enterprise; not redistribution." Romney's spineless running mate Paul Ryan called the comments "obviously inarticulate” in an interview with KRNV-TV in Reno, Nevada. "The point we’re trying to make is, under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up," said Ryan.