Retirement Blues
Elder Technology Experts

What Romney REALLY Thinks of Elders

category_bug_politics.gif You must have heard about all this by now – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's remarkably candid statements about his disdain for half the U.S. population:

On Monday, David Corn writing in Mother Jones released several clips from a recording of an hour-long, private fundraiser Romney held with a some fat-cat Florida donors in May. More clips followed on Tuesday, but that first video above is the most devastating – both for the country and (I do hope) for Romney too.

Here is a partial transcript of the clip:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, 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 that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them...

“These are people who pay no income tax...[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

What is shocking about Romney's comments is that they are not shocking. I suspect that everyone in the U.S. who is not a member of the rabid, far-right variety of Republican already knew this about him – that he disdains and scorns everyone who is not rich. We just didn't expect him to say it out loud so clearly.

Nevertheless, more elders support Mitt Romney's candidacy than any other single demographic. In the latest American Research Group poll, voters 50 and older prefer Romney to President Obama 52 percent to 43 percent.

Can that possibly continue after this contemptible and repugnant video? Romney's loathing for anyone he sees as below his station in life is disgustingly obvious not to mention – if I may steal a Republican trope – unAmerican.

Aside from that, Romney's numbers reveal that he has zero knowledge of the culture and circumstances of Americans who are not wealthy. Here is a tax graph of the U.S. population from the Tax Policy Center:


28.3 percent of taxpayers have enough deductions to zero out their federal tax obligation. But they still pay FICA and Medicare deductions which Romney, without a salary, does not.

6.0 percent earn too little - $20,000 or less - to pay income tax or payroll taxes.

That leaves the 10.3 percent of the U.S. population labeled “elderly” - the ones Time Goes By is concerned with – who pay no income tax nor payroll deductions but certainly have paid their share over a lifetime of employment.

As the Center for Policy and Budget Priorities explains:

“Most of the people who pay neither federal income tax nor payroll taxes are low-income people who are elderly, unable to work due to a serious disability, or students, most of whom subsequently become taxpayers.

"(In years like the last few, this group also includes a significant number of people who have been unemployed the entire year and cannot find work.)”

However, all the employed groups who pay no federal income tax usually pay state and local taxes and everyone, no matter how poor, pays sales tax. No one in these groups is shirking tax obligations.

Oh, wait. There is one group who is shirking. New York magazine enlightens us:

”...the most egregious members of the 47 percent are the 3,000 people who made more than $2,178,866 in 2011 (putting them in the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers), and yet paid no federal income taxes.”

Do you suppose Mr. Romney's contempt for people he thinks are freeloaders includes these 3,000? The ones who likely stash their cash in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens? Like Romney himself?

Now that I've done all this explanation of who doesn't pay taxes, I feel a little foolish because Romney's speech in Florida was not about facts and figures. It was the most elite put-down of the riff-raff since Marie Antoinette.

In practical terms, what it tells us is that the Republicans are running for president an amoral man of contemptible character who, if elected, will do everything he can to throw elders under the financial bus along with the rest of the 47 percent.

Are you ready for the work house?

Like I said above, I hope this Romney speech will waken his elder supporters to switch sides in disgust at his condescension toward them. But, probably not. Here is what infuriates me about my own age cohort – from a comment at firedoglake:

”My Mom is one. A 75 year old widow whose singular reason for voting for Romney is to get rid of Obamacare to save her medicare. That’s the simple truth and you will not change her mind. The mind control by Fox News is stunning.”

I have no doubt that is true and that millions of elders are equally uninformed, ignorant and closed-minded and that scares the bejesus out of me for the entire 99 percent of every age if Romney is elected.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: What is Age?


I'm so proud to say, as a liberal Georgian, that Jimmy Carter's currently unemployed grandson, James Earl Carter IV, was the person who unearthed the video and sent it to David Corn, whom he'd just met at the Democratic Convention. This proves that, if there is a God, she's a Democrat and she has a sense of humor.

You play such an important role in keeping the facts in front of us so we can make good decisions. May it be so!

Romney has said that corporations are people. Does he have the same opinion of the corporations who do not pay federal taxes?

Toastmasters! That might help.

Last week's issue of Time had a terrific article about how the government subsidizes ALL of us.

Yes, there are plenty of freeloaders out there, but I'm quite sure it includes its share of the 1%.

BTW, if he can't articulate his ideas better than that, how can I trust him to deal with issues that affect this country and world?

Well stated, Ronni. Romney is a politician and he was speaking at a fund raiser. He was ‘talking to his audience’ and saying what they wanted to hear. I’m sure President Obama has done the same thing – but hasn’t been caught.

Remember all the promises that President Obama made during his first campaign. He didn’t keep many of those either. Politicians say what they think will help them get elected – whether they believe it or not, whether they can do it or not.

I’m not defending Romney. He took a raw statistic and twisted it to make himself look like the underdog (which, I think, he is) in order to get more money for his campaign. The 43% statistic not only includes the elderly (Social Security) but also millions of people who don’t want to be there. People who are desperate for jobs, if they only existed!

Both the Republican and Democratic nominees have been bought and paid for by Big Business (financial, medical, etc.). I hope no one is naïve enough to think differently. All they’re arguing about is the details. Each special interest group (and advocates for the elderly is a special interest group) will see nuances that make one candidate more palatable than the other.

Romney has been backpedaling like crazy since this video was released. His explanations are no more acceptable or satisfying to me than most things he has to say. Many sources have tended to be dimissive of the import of what Romney says on the clip, saying that this is what politicians do, play to their audiences. In that case, that is what is despicable about most politicians and is destroying "freedom and justice for all". If they do not have the moral fortitude, strength of character and backbone to stand before any audience and speak their truth, then how can they possibly lead with courage and honor? If Romney was speaking his truth, which I believe he was, then he is clearly not the person to lead the United States of America, because he is divisive and lacks compassion.

A local columnist pointed out today that the 47% who don't pay taxes includes many corporations. Our local example is Boeing, which hasn't paid taxes in four years, despite billions in profits. Yet, I doubt Romney would accuse them of being freeloaders.

I am putting in as many hours as I can working for Obama. The message coming from Mittens and his buddies is that those of us in the 99% are not worthy of things like food and healthcare -- we are here to cater to their needs. @Lauren -- the number of freeloaders is probably lower than you think. Getting assistance isn't just a case saying "I need help" -- it's hard work.

It's also humiliating and degrading.

What surprises me is that the race is still so close. That says something about us, but I'm not sure what.

I think he will be annihilated in the first debate. A lot will depend on the moderator.

We should also be concerned what Willard really thinks of Muslims. He reminds me of Barney Fife and Earl Butz.

Last night President Obama appeared on the Dave Letterman Show and this is just one of the many wonderful and interesting things that he said.

"When I won in 2008,47% of the American people voted for John McCain. They did not vote for me, and what I said on Election Night was..

Even though you didn't vote for me,I hear your voices, and I am going to work as hard as I can to be your President."

It is with some trepidation that I submit this comment. I preface making it by saying that I am trying to maintain an open mind between the candidates for a number of reasons.
My comment is this;. When I saw the video taken of Romney referring to the high percent of people receiving aide andnot paying tax. I assumed that he was saying his pre-election time is limited. Those who find the current government policies advantageous to them personally will not change their minds. In order to support them to become less dependent on government support, he feels he is using his time appropriately by going to those with capital with plans that
will encourage them to expand current businesses and develop new businesses to get the economy rolling again.
He had since realized how others have misinterpreted what he said--not that he was ignoring this group, but could not change their views at this time.
I thought the final quote in your well-written piece sums up what he is up against.

Dare I mention books by Ayn Rand describing what happens when government and society cannot achieve an equitable balance?

Even if I weren't already in the 47%, I could never vote for a man so arrogant and stupid.

In the years I've been reading this blog, unusual to see comments popping up recently here of the "you people are all wrong" variety. Why do they bother--an Ayn Rand mention, for goodness sake, surprised it did not include a link.

Good news is that desperation must be leading right-wingers to try selling their miserable, pinched ideas to those of us at the other end of the rationality scale.

If people want to do themselves in by who they elect into office then that's what they'll do. Like you Ronnie, I've tried to present facts and stay objective, but even my parents want to vote against their own best interest and get rid of President Obama. People are going to believe what they believe and I just have to except that. I don't think we have to worry about the President being one term. If Gov. Romney continues on his course we'll see Obama get a second term. Just give the man enough rope.....and well you all know the rest.

@Naomi. While Ronni has correctly banned bigoted hate-filled words, I don't recall a requirement to pass a political litmus test before commenting here. I welcome well-considered, respectfully submitted views, including those different from my own. I might learn something I had not considered. And conversely, someone might learn something from me or from the hundreds(?) of other commenters.

I still have to wonder why the Rep. candidate will not release his tax records? I'm finding it increasingly difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's been paying his fair share of taxes. I would think if he has nothing to hide he would welcome the opportunity to assure all Americans of just how dedicated he is to what he espouses.

Perhaps this nation's financial status would be greatly improved if all those corporations and individuals who dedicate themselves to figuring out how to avoid paying taxes, would actually pay a bit more.

brbrsin2, you are very kind. Its too bad that you are not writing and rewriting for Romney. When he explained what he was really saying, I didn't hear any explaination near your interpretation of the original statements. I wish I could believe that Romney would be as kind as you.

This morning a Viet Nam Vet family member forwarded a link to a HuffPo article about the Veterans who would be included in Mr. Romney's 47%. The vets to whom he forwarded the item are all well over 60-years-old.

The general response? "Oh, Mr. Romney didn't mean veterans...he meant OTHER people."

The danger of generalizing bites another butt. A presidential candidate should know better.

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