This is a pretty amazing comment - that nearly half of the American people will vote for Obama because they are "dependent on government," "believe that they are victims," and think government "has a responsibility to care for them." (Note the words "they" and "them"). Mother Jones and the Huffington Post are reporting on the lines, delivered at a Romney fundraiser earlier this year. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he said. No comment from the Romney press office.
"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 that 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... Our message of low taxes doesn't connect...so my job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful...."
From Greg Sargent:
Romney seems to be thinking he's making an electoral argument here -- these voters are simply not gettable for him, so he needs to focus on the center. But his explanation veers into a truly extreme version of a theory that's widespread on the right: Democrats are trying to encourage dependency on government for the explicit purpose of enlarging the pool of voters who can be relied upon to vote Democratic for the rest of their lives, in order to preserve the government handouts they enjoy.
Washington Post's Brad Plumer breaks down the folks who Romney says don't take personal responsibility:
-- 28.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax, but they do pay the payroll tax. That means they don't need Mitt Romney to convince them to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives." They already have jobs. Most of the households in this group don't pay any federal income tax because they qualify for enough deductions that their income tax liability has shrunk to zero. See this Tax Policy Center report for more, which gives an example of "a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero." Indeed, it's worth noting that many of these deductions and credits were part of the 2001 Bush tax cuts, which Romney wants to extend.
-- 10.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax because they're retired and elderly. Many retirees aren't taxed on their Social Security benefits, which they earned by paying into the system over many years. If Mitt Romney secretly thinks that these households are all irresponsible freeloaders, he has a weird way of showing it, as he keeps insisting that he doesn't want to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits for those over the age of 65.
-- That leaves 6.9 percent of households which are non-elderly and have incomes less than $20,000 per year and aren't paying the payroll tax. These poorer households pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes. Perhaps Romney thinks that they should all pay more in federal taxes. It's hard to say. But this is also a much smaller fraction of Americans.
Meanwhile, just as a reminder, the vast majority of Americans still pay state and local taxes -- in fact, these taxes tend to be more regressive.