Mitt Romney paid taxes at a rate of 13 percent and he’s proud to say so. Redux.

17 Sep
September 17, 2012

A month back I ventured a brief post on this site in which I expressed my astonishment at the spectacle of a multi-millionaire presidential candidate assuring Americans that he had paid no less than 13 percent taxes.  It generated some commentary back and forth.  But as a startling addendum, we must now consider Mr. Romney’s comments at a private fundraising event at which he didn’t know he was being surreptitiously videtaped, with the tape now leaked to Mother Jones magazine and hitting the internet on several sites:

“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, 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. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”

And further from Mr. Romney:  “These are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.” He says his job “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Such is his characterization of  all those who support his opponent.  Not some portion of Mr. Obama’s support, but the full 47 percent that had, at the time of that fundraiser, fully committed to the re-electing the president. Others have already undertaken to show the lie of this, to affirm that many of those people not paying taxes are the low-wage laboring class, or to note the percentages of right-minded Republicans who are the beneficiaries of a vast array of government entitlements. Me, I can only speak for my entitled, tax-avoiding self here, but hey, I think I will:

I am going to vote for Barack Obama.  Strangely, I am not dependent on any government assistance of a kind that Mr. Romney denigrates, nor do I see myself through any prism of victimhood.  And as for my taxes, well, I already know that I pay at a realized rate at least twice as high as the rate paid by Mr. Romney.  Yet I stand among that 47 percent.  Many, many other Americans with the same criteria do as well.

My support for Mr. Obama and my opposition to Mr. Romney was, until this moment, premised on the idea that I believe more in one man’s vision of the American experiment and much less so in the other.  It has exactly nothing to do with my own personal standing.  My support isn’t predicated on any perceived benefit to me.  My opposition isn’t predicated on any perceived threat.  Although this may be an incredible and perverse notion for Mr. Romney to contemplate, my political positions do not follow from simple self-interest.  At points, as a function of citizenship itself, I feel obliged to contemplate something larger than myself, something that might benefit others more than me, something that might require collective sacrifice of a kind associated with great nations and great societies.  And if my vote results in a higher tax rate for myself and others in my income bracket, that’s certainly understandable given the current level of societal need and the fact that American tax rates are at their lowest ebb in modern times.  I need to pay more, and so do many other fortunate Americans who have had the benefit of an economic system and infrastructure that allowed such opportunities to amass wealth in the first place.  How much more? Well, that question is premised on another:  What does my country require from all of us – proportionally – to sustain itself as a first-rate society?  What does it demand of all Americans, but in particular, those of us who have gained affluence in that society?

That Mitt Romney, with his too-clever-by-half 13 percent tax rate – and no, you can’t see his returns, but trust him, he never slipped to single digits — feels equipped to sneer en masse at the millions of fellow citizens who support his opponent as being entitled, greedy tax derelicts, that he believes the vote of every American has to necessarily be rooted in the crudest and most basic self-interest — well, this ugly moment reveals more about the man himself than the targets of his derision.  Until this moment, I thought I was going to vote for Mr. Obama because, while not satisfied by all of his positions and actions, I find his vision of the American collective to be fairer and more utilitarian.  Mr. Obama seems to be asserting for an America in which sacrifice is proportional and widespread, and correspondingly, an America in which the future is inclusive of more of us.   The alternative is, of course, a nation in which more wealth is concentrated in fewer Americans, and a greater mass of citizens endure higher rates of poverty — a nation that we have been constructing, systematically, since 1980.

That was my previous argument to myself and it certainly seemed enough to decide my vote.

But now, after witnessing this fresh astonishment from Mr. Romney – after reading the above statements from a man who wants to be my president while contributing less than half of my proportional share to the commonweal, who then wants to denigrate others for not pulling their weight when in many cases that weight is greater proportionally than that which he himself has shouldered – I confess I have suddenly acquired an altogether different reason for pulling the lever in November.

This man is a lout.  A shameless lout, who, among the supposed privacy of close supporters, reveals that he can conceive of no idea larger or more profound than self-interest.  As he believes first and foremost in Mitt Romney and his ambitions, he can’t conceive that others can conjure anything larger than themselves or their possible personal gain.  Here and now, he is laid bare by his own cynical critique of others who will not follow him in selfishness.  It is not that Mr. Romney is merely unfit to serve us as president.  Based on this latest revelation, it may go much deeper.  If he believes what he told that group in private, he may well be unfit to serve us as a fellow citizen.

 

 

 

 

36 replies
  1. Mary says:

    And how much do you, Mr. Simon, willingly give to your government over and above what is required by tax code? 2%, 5, 10, 50? Nothing? What, nothing over and above you say? Shocking. Always quick to take other people’s money and pump it into a broken series of systems. Keep stringing along those folks and place the race, gender, and inequality game…you’ll continue to ‘need’ their votes.

    Reply
  2. Frank says:

    Only one clear choice this fall: Romney.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Um, no.

      Reply
      • Julie says:

        Reading this today, after the fury around Romney’s remarks had somehow subsided, but Hurricane Sandy reminded us how important an effective government can be.

        I am so pleased that women’s reproductive choices were given a prominent place as a reason to vote *for* someone.

        What a great election. *We* did it.

        Reply
  3. mark says:

    As we enter this first day of autumn of 2012, Mr Romney has now posted his income tax 2011 percentage at 14%, announced on a Friday, hoping most won’t read or care during the weekend… So, now he’s up a full percentage point increase from 2010 and ain’t that just grand! Such a big step and something to be so proud of! At this rate in just 10 years or so he’ll be paying the same rate as I do now. And by that time he’ll be well into collecting social security and enrolled in medicare and can become part of the 47% he alludes to. Can he go away fast enough? Please, everybody: vote.

    Reply
  4. Jeff Marks says:

    Mr. Simon, While much too short, I greatly appreciated the point you made during your recent appearance on Bill Maher’s show: That the news media’s total fascination/reliance/addiction to “gotcha” journalism has undermined the American public’s ability to understand more sophisticated stories that require a deeper comprehension of facts, historical record, etc. I believe you used the analogy of the recent hurricane in the Gulf not being a real test of N.O.’s new levee system. I also think this applies to the way the Bush administration was able to win reelection and escape prosecution for any of their gross incompetence dealing with the al-Qaeda threat pre-9/11, and the the fraud they perpetrated leading the charge into invading Iraq. I think with the release of Romeny’s fundraiser video we see another instance of this. His words are, as you say “astonishing”. The story he is telling to these donors about who pays taxes and how much is a gross fabrication, and demonstrates how little these GOP supporters understand about the economy and THEIR OWN party’s tax policies of the last 30 years. But it feels like the media is quick to chalk it up to ‘politics as usual’ as they search for more salacious comments from the video, report on the Romney campaign’s damage control, and let Republicans & Democrats argue about whether his comments were really insulting in the first place.

    Reply
  5. acm says:

    I was going to say that it would be interesting to see how his vision of religion fits with his “rational self-interest” morality for the world, but I guess that Mormonism is, at least on paper, about getting your own private planet to rule, so maybe even there his motivation is selfish…

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Really? Romney denigrates 47% of the American electorate with a sweeping false characterization. You take exception to this, and your response is to denigrate seven million Americans’ religion with another ignorant generalization? Is the irony in this lost on you?

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Agree, that was uncalled for. Thanks, Mike. Didn’t read that fully before it was posted or I would have called it out, too. Don’t know what his religious affiliation has to do with this issue.

        Reply
  6. Katie says:

    BRAVO MR SIMON! Thank you for saying what so many of us are thinking and, yes, saying it so elegantly.

    Katie

    Reply
  7. Jonathan says:

    Somebody has to point out that if you work in a Staples (or Sports Authority) store, you don’t make enough money to pay income tax.

    Reply
  8. Dan says:

    Romeny, in a news conference yesterday, described his unambiguous and insulting remarks as “inelegant”. This is the same person who had no qualms about having his political convention theme built upon a completely out-of-context remark/garbled sentence by Obama (“You didn’t build that”). To call him a lout is being polite.

    Out of pure morbid curiosity, I await the inevitable Romney advertisement devised to explain the video (it will probably rival Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m not a witch” spot, and Todd Akin’s walk-back of the infamous “legitimate rape” commentary).

    Reply
  9. Obamney says:

    No question that Romney is a lout. It passes strange when people who self identify as Christian, as in followers of Jesus Christ, care not one whit for the least of our brothers. Any one of us is one accident, one illness, one catastrophe away from needing help from others.

    That said, I can’t vote for the Constitutional law professor who has no respect for the constitution.

    I’m voting for Jill Stein. I encourage others to do so.

    Reply
  10. Joseph says:

    Mitt Romney (and plenty of others) would benefit from reading some de Tocqueville. His concept of “self interest rightly understood” has stuck with me ever since I first came across it.

    “The Americans, on the other hand, are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of self-interest rightly understood; they show with complacency how an enlightened regard for themselves constantly prompts them to assist one another and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property to the welfare of the state. … If the principle of interest rightly understood were to sway the whole moral world, extraordinary virtues would doubtless be more rare; but I think that gross depravity would then also be less common.”

    [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_08.htm]

    Reply
  11. David Sacks says:

    That one paragraph is so dense that you’ve only hit on one aspect of its offensiveness. The part I find most troubling is that he clearly believes that no one is entitled to health-care, food, or housing. Health care is strongly debated (at least in our country), and I believe it’s a human right. Adequate food and housing are absolutely human rights. The fact that we have starving people in America given our abundance, or more abandoned foreclosed homes than homeless people, is just shameful. Obama’s close relationship with big banking, and his support for trillions of dollars in bailouts, has completely muted the issue of foreclosures (as public policy) from the national debate. But I do agree that Obama’s personal vision is obviously that of someone who believes in some sort of democratic collectivism, even if so few of his policies reflect that. Romney doesn’t seem to recognize government’s role in any of these areas, even as simple public policy, let alone the sort of direct services I would like to see provided.

    Reply
    • Lee Carney says:

      I’m very very late to reading this, but as to your point that ‘Health care is strongly debated (at least in our country), and I believe it’s a human right.’ you do get that in places like Australia where I have lived since I was 10 and England where I was born that we just think it is is insane that you dont get universal health care paid for out of your taxes over there.

      That is the great problem with the single payer argument, people say it is paid for by ‘the government’ as if that is some seperate entity instead of realizing that we are all engaged in an experiment in ‘self-government’ and that Single Payer healthcare isnt just morally right, if you check the figures it is the most economic way to go about things too.

      The one thing I have never understood is why in America the huge Financial Instiitutions like BofA and JP Morgan and all the high street banks are aginst Universal Single Payer Healthcare, in a country where an illness can bankrupt you surely it is in the interests of all the lenders, banks and credit card companys that this not be the case, anything that reduces risk of non-repayment is good right and surely they prefer to lend to me in Australia where they know Cancer wont stop being able to pay my Credit Card Bill than they would to you in American where an illness might mean default on all your loans.

      Anyway I have banged this out in 3 mins at work, so sorry for grammatical and spelling errors, just a few points from outside the states I thought you may find interesting.

      Reply
  12. Justin Lancy says:

    Does anyone else find it, you know, rhetorically bonkers that a candidate who is arguing for lower tax burdens was, in essence, criticizing people for paying too little tax?

    In an interview with ABC at the end of July, Romney said of his own taxes:

    I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

    Of course, people who put these statements side-by-side will deduce that Mitt Romney thinks that the same legal tax avoidance by the wealthy becomes a character blemish when practiced by the poor. But, to me, it also completely undermines any credibility he would need to have to appeal to many people on the right who believe that the government already takes too much of their money.

    If that realization sinks in with his (already reluctant) supporters, I think he’s toast.

    Reply
  13. Warren says:

    I agree with pretty much all you say here about Romney in this post. However, I can’t help but wonder if Romney’s sickly notions about the poor and working class in your country and mine for that matter (I’m Canadian), aren’t representative of much of the citizenry these days. I recently came across Facebook page called “Make It legal,” a page seemingly dedicated to legalizing pot. The site has a recent posting which asks this question: “Should welfare recipients be randomly drug tested to continue to receive benefit checks?” I would’ve thought that on a “legalize it” type of website there would be an overwhelming response in the negative. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. There seems to be 2,705,462 people who have “liked” this post which asks the reader to “write yes or no in the comments section.” From a small sample that looked at it seems those in favor of random drug tests outnumber the “no’s” about 8 to 1. I’m not a big believer in polls even when they’re scientific and this is most definitely not based on any science, but I found it astounding how many people on a pro pot website seemingly want to see the poorest in our society subjected to to such a humiliating invasion of privacy. The costs for these tests for taxpayers doesn’t make sense. So either these people are extremely ignorant or they’re just in favor of beating up in the poor or both. The majority of the comments were just mean and ignorant and many seemed to be borne of some sort of bizarre envy or jealousy as though welfare recipients were living the high life on their tax money. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into a silly Facebook page? I hope so because I found it all very depressing. Here’s a link if you want to see for yourself:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=450695564975082&set=a.128701913841117.15568.128694430508532&type=1&theater

    Reply
  14. Max Hutsell says:

    “If he believes what he told that group in private, he may well be unfit to serve us as a fellow citizen”. Do fellow citizens park capital outside of their own country so that one of the results is that they pay significantly lower taxes in their home country?

    Nick Ackerman’s observation that Romney’s support comes from the states that have the greatest proportion of these “47%” shows that his claim is false and disingenuous.

    “We Built It” the mantra of current Republicans, shows a lack of awareness of the infinite number of factors that influence outcomes. However, if “we” means everyone, then they have confirmed their opposition’s thesis.

    Reply
  15. Christopher Wodby says:

    Another reading of Garrison Keillor’s Homegrown Democrat may be in order. What is it about so many in the Republican party that they can not/will not understand that there is a social compact that we all share and any good pull yourself up by your boot straps story relies on said compact? No one does it alone. And if we keep cutting taxes, then cutting them more, then cutting them even more, America is going to become a very miserable place.

    Mitt Romney may have inherited “nothing” as he says, but he, just as everyone else that wasn’t raised in the woods by wolves, has leaned on the unspoken social contract in more ways than one.

    Reply
    • Sangeetha says:

      This pisses me off as a NJ Republican and I do not think that I am alone. I feel coellmtepy disconnected from my party now.We want a real conservative running in 2012 not some flip flopping closet massachusetts liberal!Since Christie basically rules the NJGOP with an iron fist, I now see the direction the plan on taking. I will be sitting this 2011 election out for sure. Clearly none of the NJGOP supported Republicans are the types of conservatives that we should have running our government.And to think, if the Governor had just worried about staying home and working on NJ issues for the next month I would have come out and voted for the GOP in the 2011 election. Now I don’t have to waste my time.

      Reply
  16. Anita says:

    I appreciate your speaking out about this man’s offensive remarks about me and people like me. I have always paid taxes at rates usually higher than this man claims and I have never taken any government assistance payments (with the exception of once when FEMA emergency relief funds were distributed to evacuees after Hurricane Katrina) until the day I started receiving a Social Security pension. I am nearly eighty years old and, as a lifelong Democrat and liberal, am happy that I have not had to call upon government assistance programs myself, so that there would more surely be money to help those who needed it more than I. Does Mr. Romney not understand that people like me exist?

    Reply
  17. Tim OK says:

    “Although this may be an incredible and perverse notion for Mr. Romney to contemplate, my political positions do not necessarily follow from simple self-interest.”

    David, you neatly summarize something I’ve sensed for a long time but had difficulty verbalizing. I’ve voted for both parties at times, but much less so for GOP in recent years. It’s not a matter of ideology, in paricular. At times, I agree w both parties.

    Right now, Republicans are an unimaginative, tired party. There is no problem to which ‘cutting taxes’, “individual freedom,” and “competition” are not the answer. They don’t just have ineffective answers to a lot of the most pressing problems in USA today; they simply don’t acknowledge that such problems even exist.

    From hearing the video comments, it is now completely believable to me that MR really can conceive of no motive for voting than individual self-interest, as you note. Further, he can conceive of no reason to work other than to make a lot of $. Finally, he cannot possibly imagine that anyone else would have motives different than his own.

    Anyone who can so easily divide 310M people into “makers” and “takers”… and no other categories exist… you have to wonder how such a person would govern.

    Reply
  18. Nick Ackerman says:

    This chart that Andrew Sullivan put up at the Daily Dish illustrating how most of the so-called 47% come from the reddest states only underlines how outrageous his claims were: http://dailydish.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e2017c31f0a947970b-800wi

    Reply
  19. Lee Dale says:

    As a Canadian cringing from north of the border, I can only hope, for the sake of the good and the poor in America, that this lousy and destructive human being is left in the dust at the polls.

    I do believe America needs balance in its two leading parties; you collectively need to send a message to the Republicans that doubling down on insanity is not the way.

    Reply
  20. Kevin Stevens says:

    His choice of a Ayn Rand acolyte makes a lot more sense now, don’t you think?

    This smug (pardon the following vulgarity) fuckstick can take his arrogant grin and place it firmly on my sphincter.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I’m not being hyperbolic here. I’m astonished at his words.

      I don’t like to address myself to issues of character very often. And I don’t think name-calling accomplishes much. I’ve tried to critique ideas and arguments to better effect. But here, in this instance, Mr. Romney leaves us nowhere else to go: He claims that those who oppose him — all of us — are doing so out of greed and selfishness, that our votes have been, in effect, purchased.

      If he believes that, if he doesn’t apologize to the other half of the electorate and say, “You know what? That’s wrong what I said. You can still disagree with me politically and economically and do so for any number of reasons unrelated to personal greed,” then he has undertaken an ad hominem assault on half the American citizenry so broad and ugly that it can only be met on its own base terms. If he doesn’t see how loathsome those comments are and walk that shit back, he’s a lout. Sorry. There’s no other word for him.

      Reply
      • Kevin Stevens says:

        I hear you, I was floored. I have friends and acquaintances who hold similar political beliefs, but none of them have expressed this kind of Rush/Hannity contempt.

        I’ve heard some people relate this to Twilight of the Elites and a disconnected, monied, plutocracy. Makes sense to me.

        Reply
        • sam says:

          Kevin, here in our house (in New Orleans where we developed a rather tough hide after the Katrina debacle) we have decided that Romney/Ryan want a Darwinian oligarchy with us walking over the bodies of the poor, the homeless, the physically or mentally ill in the streets of America. We are unclear whether they would privatize the disposal of the bodies or if they would hire people to do so (through a corporate entity naturally) and call it job creation.

          Reply
      • Dana Henderson says:

        Personally, I can think of a lot of other words for him. They would be ‘inelegant’ though.

        Reply
  21. Doug King says:

    Mr Simon,

    Imagine my surprise when I typed the word “lout” into the merriam-webster. and a Google ad for Mitt Romney appeared under the definition of lout. You are more powerful than you know.

    Reply

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  5. [...] David Simon | Mitt Romney paid taxes at a rate of 13 percent and he’s proud to say so. Redux. Quote: "As he believes first and foremost in Mitt Romney and his ambitions, he can’t conceive that others can conjure anything larger than themselves or their possible personal gain.  Here and now, he is laid bare by his own cynical critique of others who will not follow him in selfishness.  It is not that Mr. Romney is merely unfit to serve us as president.  Based on this latest revelation, it may go much deeper.  If he believes what he told that group in private, he may well be unfit to serve us as a fellow citizen." (categories: politics taxes ) [...]

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