Mitt, you take personal responsibility!

Few could have missed what are likely the most contemptible words ever uttered by a candidate for the presidency of the United States – words that show just how unqualified he is to aspire to that office. But just in case a reader did miss Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded comments at a Boca Raton, Fla., fundraiser, here they are:

“There are the 47 percent who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of 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. And they will vote for the president no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” (Editorial continues after video.)

One has to ask today, on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, just who Mitt Romney, Mr. 1 % himself, was referring to as people who don’t “take personal responsibility and care for themselves?”

It must be people like him – and their sibling corporations – who he is talking about, because they spend millions to find ways to not pay taxes!

Set aside, for a moment, the fact that the overwhelming majority of the 47 percent who he says are hopelessly in the Obama camp, actually pay plenty of income and other taxes.

Even if we look only at the minority who don’t pay federal income taxes, we find 61 percent of that group are workers currently employed but earning dismally low wages, particularly in the non-union states championed by Romney and his fellow 1%ers.

Students, military families, people with disabilities and the unemployed, taken together, account for 17 percent of those who don’t pay federal income taxes.

Students, of course, will pay huge amounts of taxes when they get out of school and military families paid taxes before they joined up and will pay again after their enlistments. The unemployed paid plenty of federal income taxes before they lost their jobs and were it not for the outsourcing promoted by Romney and his 1% pals many would still have their jobs and be able to pay federal income taxes.

As for the disabled: Does Romney dare tell the thousands suffering from black lung and other diseases acquired on the job, those born with disabilities or came by them through war or other life’s trials, that they don’t have the right to food or a roof over their heads?

The remaining 22% of those who don’t pay federal income taxes are seniors, most of whom worked and paid taxes all their lives. Taking away the safety net those seniors have earned would not only result in countless early deaths but would quickly plunge the millions who are members of their families into abject poverty too.

The reality is a far different one from the one painted by Romney at that gathering of his rich friends. The fact that someone is not paid enough or that he or she is on active military duty protecting Romney’s wealth, among other things, or that he or she is too old or that he or she is suffering from disease acquired on the job does not mean that he or she is not contributing to society.

The poorest one fifth of American households actually pay out a crushing 16 percent of their meager incomes in various federal, state and local taxes while many of the super-rich, Romney among them, devise ever more creative ways of avoiding taxes entirely.

Mitt, you’re wrong! It’s you who is not taking personal responsibility when you stash your money in offshore tax shelters. The vast majority however does take personal responsibility. If you can’t see that now you will understand on Election Day.

The data source for this editorial is a 2011 report entitled “Who doesn’t pay federal income taxes?” put out jointly by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center.

Photo: Demonstrators at a protest march using a puppet in the likeness of Mitt Romney, Aug. 30in Tampa, Fla., outside the Republican National Convention. Dave Martin/AP



PW Editorial Board
PW Editorial Board

People’s World editorial board: Editor-in-Chief John Wojcik,  Managing Editor C.J. Atkins, Copy Editor Eric A. Gordon, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg, Social Media Editor Chauncey K. Robinson, Senior Editor Roberta Wood, Senior Editor Joe Sims