Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney vs. the 47 Percent


In which Mitt Romney complains about all those people who don't pay income taxes and 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. That's an entitlement." Via Mother Jones, a secretly recorded tape of the Republican presidential nominee talking to big dollar donors at a fundraiser in May:

Does Mitt Romney actually believe all this? I have no idea, but you can be sure he thinks the gathered GOP rainmakers do. When he told Mormon bishops that he was going to run for Senate in Massachusetts as a pro-choice candidate, he did so in a presentation based on polling data. At the fundraiser in question, Romney explained that he had crafted his anti-Obama message after copious focus group research. This is a guy who has basically made a living out of figuring out what people want to hear and telling them exactly that. Which means that this probably tells us at least as much about the donors as it does about Romney. 

And what does it tell us about Romney? That he thinks he can talk differently to different groups of people without consequence, and that he's happy to play to the GOP's sense of self-entitlement. At the fundraiser, he goes after those who believe that "government has a responsibility to take care of them," the folks who think they're "entitled" to health care. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." But Romney doesn't plan to convince his own supporters of the same thing either. Romney's attacks on President Obama's Medicare cuts have practically run on repeat throughout the summer, and he's promised to defend and preserve the program. He's also promised to preserve and defend our hilariously bloated defense budget from scheduled cuts for which he blames Obama, despite his running mate's vote for the same cuts. In fact, Romney has promised to ramp up defense spending, just for the the hell of it. Romney isn't against government handouts at all. It's just that he's only in favor of the ones that Republicans like. 

Update: It's worth noting in this space that according to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, entitlements have grown faster under Republicans than under Democrats. "From a purely statistical standpoint," Eberstadt wrote in a book excerpt published by The Wall Street Journal, "the growth of entitlement spending over the past half-century has been distinctly greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Between 1960 and 2010, the growth of entitlement spending was exponential, but in any given year, it was on the whole roughly 8% higher if the president happened to be a Republican rather than a Democrat."

NEXT: New Zealand Seeks To Ease People Off Welfare

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  1. Does Mitt Romney actually believe all this?

    He chooses to believe what he was programmed to believe.

  2. a hollow party is pushing a hollow man

    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion

    1. Mitt must face his toughest challenge yet

      So many times
      It happens too fast
      You change your passion
      For glory

      Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
      You must fight just to keep them alive

        1. Your initials are as backwards as your thinking, I perceive.

  3. And he’s wrong how? And I’m shocked Suderman hangs out at Mother Jones. Not.

    1. Every political blog under the sun has mentioned this story today. Or maybe he (gasp!) reads viewpoints he doesn’t always agree with! But by all means, don’t let that stop your TEAM RED shilling.

      1. blow me

      2. But how does a libertarian not agree with this?

        OMG, a Republican thinks people take more than the government than they pay in.

        Why should this horrify a supposed libertarian?

        Yes, Republicans don’t walk the talk, which is the problem.

        1. Libertarians that advocate for a Fair Tax don’t believe everyone should pay taxes.

        2. Why should this horrify a supposed libertarian?

          What or who are you “supposing”?

          It horrifies Mr. McArdle. It horrifies the audience he would like to be writing for. WTF does that have to do with libertarians?

        3. You’d be daft to think the people who don’t pay income tax and people who vote for BO are exactly the same people. It comes off as arrogant and insulting to those considering voting for BO.

          I totally agree with what he says about people having a sense of entitlement, but it’s not something you say in a situation where someone may be taping.

          1. You’d be daft to think the people who don’t pay income tax and people who vote for BO are exactly the same people.

            Just because they’re rich doesn’t mean they’re smart. Obviously big Republican donors believe this, which is why Mitt is saying it.

            1. Even I don’t subscribe to the belief that Mitt always says exactly the right thing for his audience to hear. This was an extremely stupid thing for him to say. You never friggin know who might be recording.

              He could have made basically the same point with less incendiary language.

              1. Bitter clingers come to mind? All politicians play to what they think their audience wants to hear.

          2. You’d be daft to think the people who don’t pay income tax and people who vote for BO are exactly the same people. It comes off as arrogant and insulting to those considering voting for BO.

            I totally agree with what he says about people having a sense of entitlement, but it’s not something you say in a situation where someone may be taping.

            Yeah it’s politically idiotic.

            He’d be a lot more effective saying that it’s a tragedy that 47% of the people in the country are takers, that many of those people don’t want to be but lack opportunities and he’s running to help those people

            Then again, that’s a message for a wider audience and based on the entirety of the clip, I’m going to speculate that he was responding to criticism of running a wimpy campaign.

            That’s what his rambling about the 5-10% of voters in the persuadable middle was all about, which he framed with the 47% won’t vote for me no how.

          3. “It comes off as arrogant and insulting to those considering voting for BO.”

            Yeah, the truth’s a bitch, ainnit.

          4. For the record, I am 100% okay with insulting people considering voting for Obama.

    2. Zackly. Mitt is just aware of the polling data. 47% are voting TEAM BLUE regardless, and another 47% are voting TEAM RED regardless. So, the squishy 6% in between (all those Independents, libertarians, Greens, socialists, etc.) are who he really needs to reach out to. His statement is pragmatic. And before Shrike and the others call me a wingneck, I am not voting for Mitt I am voting for Johnson. But this statement is not offensive. It is realistic.

      1. I’ll be voting for Johnson as well. So there’s two votes:)

      2. But the 47% that don’t pay taxes have a very large contingent of the elderly … who tend to vote Team Red.

        1. They paid taxes at one time and don’t think Mitt is talking about them.

          1. They’re part of the 47% stat that don’t pay federal income taxes.

            1. So? Mitt isn’t going to lose their vote if they are already inclined to support him. This is politics. People believe what they want.If they used to pay taxes they figure Mitt is talking about those who never paid them at all. IIRC, the group that most thinks they pay too much in taxes are the poor. Probably because they do, even if not in ” Federal Income Tax”.

              1. Mo is pointing out that in Mitt’s comment he thinks that they won’t be voting for him.

                Which is wrong as you point out.

                I’ll add that there are also a large number of small business people that technically fall into that 47% because their businesses are losing money in Obama’s depression. And they won’t be voting democrat either.

      3. Suggesting that all 47% of the population who pay no federal income taxes are Democrats or Obama voters is clearly factually inaccurate.

        Also, Romney just told every elderly person on social security that they are guaranteed Obama voters because they’re parasites.

        Not a genius move.

        1. I have to agree with the Derrier here.

          1. That’s a cute nickname I sorta like it.

        2. There’s lot of elderly SocSec recipients who pay plenty of taxes, you know. Being over 65 isn’t a blanket exemption from the income tax.

      4. Mitt is just aware of the polling data. 47% are voting TEAM BLUE regardless, and another 47% are voting TEAM RED regardless.

        Not really. The rock solid base for both parties is about 39% although it varies by state. That’s roughly the the percentage that voted for Whitman in CA and O’Donnell in DE, two reds running in rock solid blue states.

        It’s also the percentage of popular vote that Obama would get if he was running against a competent politician.

      5. The day I give a shit what Shrike thinks is the day I stop shitting.

  4. “This is a guy who has basically made a living out of figuring out what people want to hear and telling them exactly that”

    Really? How about this is a guy who made a lot of money working in the private sector, like almost no politician, and who founded a private equity company for which he is demonized by the people who hate the free economy?

    1. Him being a businessman doesn’t mean shit. There are plenty of businessmen who are bad people or who would be terrible politicians. And since he has entered politics, that is a very accurate way to describe him

      1. That’s not what the wolf was responding to. Mitt made his living actually working in the real world.

        1. Which is clearly detrimental to political success.

          Libertarians need to accept the reality that businessmen that jump into marque political races usually lose.

          There just isn’t a lot of overlap between the skills required to make money in a business and getting elected in competitive races.

        2. Which really wasn’t the point Suderman was making. It’s obvious from the context that he’s talking about Romney’s political career

  5. There’s a lot of stupid from both sides on this tonight.

  6. He’s right that there is a 47% that is lost to the D’s ( just like there is an equal amount lost to the R’s).
    But he’ full of shit when he assumes that all of these are dependent upon government. The Dems I know are all gainfully employed, just wrong about the role government should play in our society. Further, if dependence upon govt cheese means someone is automatically team blue, then what side do our soldiers and veterans (and their families) count for? For that matter, what about those who work for military contractors. Face it, there are just as many team R welfare queens as team blue. They just don’t realize it.

    1. Fair critique. Thanks for the perspective.

    2. Yep,

      Plus cronies are net takers from government, even if they kick some of it back in high taxes.

    3. Agree. Fair critique (but then again I’m ancap, not Republican). Recall an estimate of those in the private sector dependent on government contracts that was in the ballpark of 20 million. Google didn’t help find the particular report, so if anyone knows the one, I would love to see it again.

  7. What did he say that was inaccurate?

  8. If 47% of Americans aren’t paying income taxes, then we only have 53% to go. Let’s make it happen.


  9. And the pupil bests the master: ATL 27 DEN 21

    1. God DAMN it!!!

    2. Yep. Ryan is the man. And Atlanta’s defense was scary. At least my Broncs made a game of it at the end.

  10. I thought he said the bottom 47% of earners don’t pay income taxes. Which is true. They may have income taxes withheld,(along with Social Security and Medicare) but usually get money back at tax time.

    Most of them may be Democrat leaning but a large chunk don’t vote. I don’t think he insinuated that the 47% of people who vote Team Blue no matter what are these same people.

    1. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government”

      He’s not talking about two completely unrelated 47 percents.

      1. They overlap. Sure Obama has the support of tax-paying parasites like the bankers he bailed out, trial lawyers, and government employee scum like you.

        1. Zactly

        2. No, the point is that they are the same 47%! He uses the terms interchangeably in describing the same 47% of the population.

  11. Fascinating.…

  12. Fascinating.
    How Jimmy Carter’s Grandson Helped Leak the Secret Romney Fund-raiser Video…

  13. I’m surprised no one has taken to task the data that shows entitlements growing faster under republican presidents than under democratic ones. I thought that would be the first point of contention.

    1. Eh, I’ll be accused of being a Team Red shill, but Obamacare is gonna show up starting 2014 so whoever is POTUS in 2016-2020 will have the big increases.

      Are the Great Society programs the same way? Or did the government cheese start flowing as soon as LBJ signed the bottom of the bill?

    2. It’s really an irrelevant bit of data, since spending on those programs is dependent on demographics and around two dozen bills, and not year to year funding.

      There are more Democratic Presidents in the “sustainable” half of the 1960-2012 period than Republican Presidents. That’s all there is to it.

  14. HEY! His Obamaness will be on Letterman tomorrow. That should be in depth and even handed

  15. This is all people will talk about when Romney mentions the economy.

    1. Perfect.

      If he comes out and defends it in the debates, I might actually vote for him.

      This is exactly what this election should be about.

      Parasites vs. Productive People

      Strip away the bogus issues. I don’t give a damn about abortion, or Afghanistan, or gay marriage…

      I care about parasites vs. productive people.

      Obama’s repeatedly chosen to be on the side of the parasites, and if Romney makes himself the champion of productive people, then I just might jump on board.

      1. I also hope this happens! Please start calling elderly people on social security parasites!

        This is a guarantee for electoral success!

        1. and the children!
          and the poor!

        2. I also hope this happens! Please start calling elderly people on social security parasites!

          This is a guarantee for electoral success!

          Oh, we can do much better than social security for old people. No doubt we’ll have to pay the ones who are already on the program out–but the chances of someone under 40 or so getting back what they put in is very low…

          No, the people on social security aren’t really parasites. The parasites are the ones who fed on those poor people’s incomes their whole lives–leaving them with nothing but a ponzi scheme to rely on. The parasites are the ones who use the threat of taking old people’s ponzi scheme away to scare them into supporting yet more parasites.

          You know there isn’t a god damn thing the government does that isn’t financed by someone who earned that money, right?

          Are you aware of that? Or are you one of those people who thinks the government builds infrastructure using money that grows on trees.

          1. No, I think that government pays for infrastructure through taxes.

            And while I think that all taxes are bad, I think that some government programs financed by taxes have benefits that outweigh the costs of those taxes. Some infrastructure does fall into this category.

            1. Of course the benefits outweigh the costs for the people who don’t pay taxes in the first place. Specify your utility function.

              1. I’m not excluding taxpayers in my estimation. Some taxes finance programs that benefit the taxpayer more than the tax harms them–even if the taxes are uniformly levied.

                If you don’t think so, you’re an anarchist, right?

            2. I think that some government programs financed by taxes have benefits that outweigh the costs of those taxes. Some infrastructure does fall into this category.

              What percentage of our federal budget goes to pay for infrastructure, anyway?

              And if Romney’s telling the truth about a huge chunk of our population who not only aren’t carrying water–but are also drinking the water I’m carrying?

              If a huge chunk of the population is living by sucking the blood out of my life, my investments, my savings, and my hard work?

              Then what the hell is the problem with calling them out for that?

              Why isn’t Obama trying to protect me from the parasites? Why is calling out the parasites for what they are–a bad thing?

              …and the parasites are justifying their blood sucking ways by saying that I should have to pay for the infrastructure I use–that they don’t pay for, but live off of?

              And how much of our national budget goes to infrastructure, anyway?

              1. The problem with that Ken, is that the socialist will quickly spin it into the top ten percent against everyone else. And decades of publik skooling have made that a winning argument.

        3. Re: The Derider,

          Please start calling elderly people on social security parasites!

          I’ll buy that for a dollar!

      2. Ken, based on the evolution of your posts the last few weeks, Romney is playing you like a fiddle. He doesn’t give a shit about the free market or limiting paratism

        1. I’m still in the not voting for anybody camp.

          But if Romney stands behind these statements in a big way?

          I could get behind that!

          Romney may not be as much about the free market as I’d like (His latest take on trade with China is absolutely stupid), but Obama does give a shit about free markets and limiting parasitism…

          And Obama’s wholeheartedly against free markets and enthusiastically in favor of parasitism–and I can prove it.

          1. Did you mean to write Romney instead of Obama in the second paragraph? If so, do you have any proof of that? Anything more than words? That’s my point. Who cares if Romney says nice things about limited government. Almost every Republican candidate in recent history has said such things at one time or another. But very few of them actually follow through. If Mitt Romney is elected president, at the end of his term there will be 1) more spending 2) more debt 3) more regulations than when he took office 4) The same number of cabinet departments and major agencies and 5) No real reforms at the Fed. And it’s also possible his tax plan would raise taxes on middle and lower classes while lowering them on the upper classes (I don’t have a problem with the latter – I do with the former). This doesn’t even touch his awful positions on civil liberties, social issues, and foreign policy.

            And if you do eventually cave and decide to vote, why not vote for Gary Johnson, who stands a lot closer to you on the positions than Romney ever will? It’s not like your vote is going to decide the election

    2. What does this have to do with the economy?

      1. He thinks that people who do not pay federal income taxes (the poor) “are dependent upon government… believe that they are victims… believe the government has a responsibility to care for them… believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

        So when he asks the question “are you better off than 4 years ago?” democrats will respond that he believes people are poor because they are moral failures.

        1. So Democrats will dodge the question and change the subject?

          1. Yes, he’s made it that easy.

            1. So you’re totally comfortable with your side using cheap, dishonest rhetorical tactics to deflect attention from the actual problems this country faces?

              1. I think “are you better off than 4 years ago?” is itself a cheap, dishonest rhetorical tactic.

                Yes, in a perfect world I would prefer reasoned discourse without rhetorical tactics– but politics has never been like that.

            2. Basically you’re a Democrat first and an American second. Not that it’s a surprise, just confirming.

              1. This comment looks suspiciously like a cheap, dishonest rhetorical tactic.

                1. This comment looks suspiciously like a cheap, dishonest rhetorical tactic.

                  Just this one?

                2. Looks suspiciously like the truth, too.

  16. Incidentally, I heard there’s a group pushing to get Obama’s face on the $1 food stamp.

    1. Re: Ken Shultz,

      Incidentally, I heard there’s a group pushing to get Obama’s face on the $1 food stamp.

      Would he be wearing a white wig?

    2. They’re gonna’ stamp his face?

      1. They’re gonna face his stamp.

  17. “Whatever happens in the market” can’t be defined as the good. The good must involve such things as the well-being of human beings.

    A planet where politicians change their message according to the make up of the audience?

    Poppycock! Balderdash!

    1. “Whatever happens in the market because of the voluntary interactions of people seeking to maximize their own perceived interests” can’t be defined as the good.

      Seems like a good start.

      The good must involve such things as the well-being of human beings.

      As defined by whom, if not the actual people involved?

  18. Meh. Talk about a non-story. Parasites object to being called parasites. Meanwhile, the guy calling them parasites won’t actually cut any entitlements if he gets elected.

    1. Yes, if you are completely uninterested in the outcome of the 2012 US presidential election, this is non-news.

      1. The outcome is a foregone conclusion: Obamney will win, productive people will lose.

    2. Parasites object to being called parasites.

      It’s the reason they object to being called parasites that’s important.

      Parasites object to being called parasites because they imagine that everyone else is a parasite, too. They just don’t like being called out as different.

      Also, it offends their…imagination. They can’t imagine a world where they aren’t parasites. …especially the ones that work for the government.

      You know, once you’ve been working for the government for five or ten years, who’s gonna hire you if you get laid off?

      I’d rather hire someone with a criminal record. I mean, after you’ve been working for the government for five or ten years, what did you learn working there? How to be meticulous? I’ll grant them that. Government employees are meticulous in checking boxes, and stuff like that…

      So, if I ever need to hire people to do a whole lot of meticulous box checking (and for whatever reason, I don’t just want to write a really short shell script)? Then I’ll look for some ex-government workers to hire. But other than that?

      Why would anyone hire ex-government bureaucrats? They understand their place in the world. They know what they’re qualified to do isn’t worth anything on the open market. But, somehow, in their government cocoons, the little parasites come to imagine that the rest of us are like that, too.

      We’re not like that. I’m not like that.

      1. Case point: My buddy got punched in the nose during a bar fight while serving in the air force. He now gets $ 600 per month permanent disability for a deviated septum for the rest of his life. A hardcore Republican, when I call him out for the bullshit waste of taxpayer money, he calmly explains that he served our country and deserves this compensation. See…to him, he’s different than those undeserving “others” ( read poor, minority, single moms, etc) that suckle off the gubmt teat.

        1. There’s no doubt…

          There are tons of people out there who send their kids off to public schools, take out huge government loans to get through college, get a job working for the government, or, even worse, work in some government credentialed field and save nothing for retirement. Their retirement plans consist entirely of social security and medicare…

          And then they turn around and call single moms “welfare queens” because they take food stamps? Single moms on welfare are the least of our problems.

          People need to start taking responsibility for their own lives. How the fuck can taxing people like Ken Shultz be the solution to everybody’s problems?

          Somebody gotta start the discussion about what to do with all the parasites out there–it’s probably a step that has to happen before we’ll ever be able to do anything about the deficit.

          …if we’re gonna do something about it voluntarily. If things go bad like they did in Europe, we may balance the budget involuntarily, but if we’re going to avoid that–even if you just want to provide a reliable safety net for people who really need it! We gotta have a conversation about how to wean the parasites off of our lifeblood first.

          And if Romney’s starting that conversation? Then that’s probably the most constructive thing a presidential candidate can do right now. And Obama sure as hell isn’t up to the task.

    3. A large number of that 47% aren’t parasites. They work. They pay payroll, sales and property taxes. They don’t get a damn thing from the government. With this statement Romney has shown he is just as out of touch as Obama is. No matter who wins, America loses.

      1. They pay payroll, sales and property taxes.

        A chunk of them get those payroll taxes back as EITC.

        They don’t directly pay property taxes if they rent. And the feds don’t get any property tax revenue.

        Sure, everyone pays sales taxes, but guess what? None of that goes to the federal government, either.

  19. Hmm, I’m starting to think that maybe there’s no difference between Obama and Romney….

    Except that one is a spendthrift, liberal demagogue, whereas the other is black.

    1. Bele, meet Lokai.

  20. And what does it tell us about Romney? That he thinks he can talk differently to different groups of people without consequence

    More that Romney, like “Bitterly Clinging” Obama, still hasn’t learned the hard lesson that if there is even one person in the room you don’t personally know and trust, to assume that there is a hostile camera or mike in the room recording everything.

    And that you should assume ALL microphones are live.

    1. Precisely. I’m still voting for Mitt but this was foolish.

  21. Good grief, Pete. I’ve been critical of Reason for being lazy in reporting about the various entitlement plans, but I’d always roll my eyes at the cadre of posters that would get aggrieved at attacks on Republicans.

    There is plenty to attack Republicans

    BTW, entitlement spending is not driven at all by who is in office — it is driven by spending that is automatic and which is the result of ~20 bills, total. It is driven by demographic changes and some major expansions such as GWB’s Medicare Pt D. Referring to the yearly growth rate of these entitlements as if Republicans or Democrats unconnected to these bills have fuck-all to do with it is incredibly dishonest — and as Reason’s healthcare correspondent, I hope that you know this and are merely being intentionally dishonest to your readers.

  22. He said 47% of the people are “dependent” on the government, which could mean a number of things. He didn’t say 47% of them are on welfare. It’s an important distinction, and Romney the politician knows what “gotcha” moments he must avoid. Most of the time.

    Close to half the country probably thinks healthcare and education is a right, and expect the government to do giant things. Nothing he said couldn’t be found on this very site.

    Yes, he says different things depending on who the audience is. You won’t see medicare and defense cuts from either president. Obama will be even more scared to cut any government jobs which he believes is faring worse than the private sector.

  23. This was, at the very least, a poor choice of words for Romney, but all the “this will cost him the election” blather is nonsense. A lot can happen in the remaining weeks. I still have a hard time believing the polls showing Obama leading: he just squeaked by in a number of states in 2008, and since then he’s lost lots of independents and GOP switchers, support from women is down, the Hope-‘n’-Change aura is gone, the economy sucks, his foreign policy is in flames… and he’s still ahead? The Tea Party people are still out there and are at least as ticked off as they were in 2010. It may be wishful thinking, but I think many of the polls are just wrong because they are oversampling Democrats, or because many people just won’t talk to pollsters.

    The debates will be interesting. (Not that I will watch: I can barely stand to hear any politician talk.) As usual, the Republicans just rolled over and got a set of standard MSM liberal moderators, who will no doubt do what they can to subtly sabotage Romney and help Obama. They don’t call them the Stupid Party for nothing.

    But this image gave me a laugh.

  24. Prediction: Romney will walk back the statement, placate the elderly on SS and Medicare, and then attack the growing entitlement state under Obama. And life will go on and Obama will make smug remarks on Letterman tomorrow even as our embassies are being assualted and Bibi Netanyahu prepares to start the biggest regional war in 30 years with Iran.

  25. Other than his math being a little off (it’s called hyperbole people), what did he say that was wrong? A good portion of the population takes a lot more than it contributes. A majority of that group (or groups as has been pointed out below) will vote for the party that appears most friendly to the idea of keeping the goodies coming. You can argue which taker group favors which party, but the end result is that the takers have plenty of advocates in power. This is why any kind of reform is extremely difficult.

    Obama is actively pitting one group against the other. How many times have you heard the “Millionaires and Billionaires” bull crap from? It is nauseating and pathetic. So what if Romney fires back a little at a private fund-raiser?

    Romney sucks but at least he isn’t actively riling people up to demand more free crap. This makes him demonstrably better than the rabble-rouser-in-chief. No more Obama, please. He is actively pushing the country in the wrong direction. If you live in a swing state (say the polls are within 3% come the end of October) and you don’t vote for Romney, you are voting for Obama, because that’s what you will get. If you aren’t in a swing state, vote for Johnson. Stow the purity nonsense and grow up.

  26. The 47% who don’t pay taxes probably wouldn’t have voted for Romney, but not all of them would have taken the time to vote. Romney just increased voter turn out for Obama.

    1. Sure, because a low motivation leech will somehow hear of this and get all indignant and haul their butt to the polls to show that guy!

      1. At an election held 7 weeks after the offending comment.

      2. I heard the Conan O’Brien audience booing Romney harder than usual last night. The leeches definitely heard. Funny guy most nights, but I hate his audience with a throbbing purple passion.

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