Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bottom Line: Romney Doesn't Know Us

That 47% still rankles.  “There are 47%....who are dependent on government...who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

By now most voters know these were Romney’s remarks at a $50,000 per person fundraiser in Boca Raton (that's more than most Americans make in a year, by the way): "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” 
To Mitt, 47% of Americans may be a faceless number, but he was talking about you and me.*    

Half of this 47%, for example, don’t earn enough money for a household of their size to owe income tax; a family of 4 earning less than $26,400 wouldn’t pay taxes. Nor would the 4000 households in this 47% that make over $1 million a year; they don't pay taxes either.  

But Mitt meant that as president he wouldn't worry about the family down the street having trouble paying their mortgage; or your grandmother struggling with increasing medical bills and living on Social Security (which she earned over a lifetime of working);  or the young college grad in a first job, loaded with loans, trying to be independent, who can't afford to get his darn used car fixed.     

Mitt would not worry about the folks with a "pre-existing" condition who can't get health insurance, either, or those with sick and dying children who have exceeded their medical limits, or workers (not slackers) who don't get any health insurance at all, and there are plenty of them. 

He wouldn't worry about the folks working fulltime who are earning minimum wage, not enough to keep body and soul together, more and more of whom have to supplement their meager wages with food stamps. Most moms who need food stamps, moreover, or who need help with formula and medical care for their infants or with childcare, don’t like it, not at all.   They do what they HAVE to do, and hope to be self-sufficient one day soon.  "I'll never convince them to take responsibility" is NOT what they need to hear.  They need understanding, compassion, and support.  They need a president who cares, about ALL Americans. 

Romney's losers also include those members of the military who don’t pay taxes (16% of that 47%), many of whom are elderly and many just back from Iraq and Afghanistan with terrible physical and mental problems.  And then there are the people at the lowest end of the wealth and income gap, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, the homeless, the sick and dying (about 13%).  

It’s hard to believe someone could be so heartless.  And now Romney is telling us over and over that he really does care. 

Maybe he does, at some level.  But I think it’s hard for someone as wealthy as Romney, who was born into a privileged family and got richer off investments (some sheltered abroad) and Bain Capital, to understand the daily lives of ordinary Americans.  

From your multi-milliion dollar mansion on the beach front of La Jolla, CA, just one of at least three homes, it's hard to understand the Jeep worker who lives in a working class neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, father of three, whose home is on the verge of foreclosure, or those friendly workers at Walmart's in Tampa, FL, who can't afford to go to the dentist.   

We don't begrudge Mitt his wealth, we just don't think he should cast aspersions on the characters of the rest of us, call us lazy, dependent, irresponsible, beyond hope. That's the part that hurts the most.  

It’s hard to backpeddle from your off-the-cuff remarks to super wealthy donors when your lifestyle is so different from the average voter, so far removed from working and middle class Americans.  

Bottom line: Romney doesn’t know us. 

*For this breakdown, see AP report on Yahoo news, “Who are Mitt Romney’s 47 percent? A breakdown,” Connie Cass with AP statistician Agiesta, September 2012.

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