By James Kwak
By now most of you probably know about the video of Mitt Romney at a fund-raiser for rich people dissing 47 percent of Americans, including seniors, one of his core constituencies. (Many seniors don’t pay income tax because they don’t have enough income, since Social Security is not taxed except for high-income households. For more on the “47 percent,” see here.)
Still, this is standard Tea Party fodder that Romney et al. have been dishing out for months now. But what about this?
Describing his family background, he quipped about his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” Contending that he is a self-made millionaire who earned his own fortune, Romney insisted, “I have inherited nothing.” He remarked, “There is a perception, ‘Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.’ Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.”
Mitt Romney saying that he inherited nothing? The son of the CEO of AMC and governor of Michigan? (And Mark Thoma remembered how Mitt and Ann didn’t have to work because of stock from Mitt’s father.)
Then there’s the campaign’s response:
Gail Gitcho, the communications director for Mr. Romney, said in a statement that Mr. Romney is “concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work.”
Um, Gail, the people on food stamps, in poverty, and struggling to find work are precisely the people who don’t pay income taxes—about whom your candidate said, “my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Some people are thinking (hoping) that this means the end of the Romney candidacy. I’m not so sure. Remember George W. Bush addressing a group of the “haves and have-mores” and saying, “you are my base”? Didn’t seem to hurt him. Still, there is—or should be—a difference between making a joke about your rich friends and insulting half of the electorate.