Tonawanda News

September 19, 2012

DUVALL: Romney's cynicism is appalling

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’m starting to think Mitt Romney is secretly a Democrat. It is quickly becoming the last remaining sensible explanation for how much he’s done to help Barack Obama win a second term.

And thank goodness for that. Because an actual President Romney, a phrase destined for the scrap heap of American history if candidate Romney has anything to say about it, would be an unmitigated disaster.

A week after sticking his foot in his mouth as an American ambassador lay dead in Libya, out comes what could be the final nail in the coffin.

By now you’ve probably heard, or seen amateur video of Romney’s comments at a May fundraising event, closed to the press and away from the prying eyes of voters he courts daily in his public appearances.

What did Romney say to his well-heeled supporters about those unwashed masses too poor to afford a ticket?

Here’s how the New York Times reported it:

“During a private reception with wealthy donors this year, Mitt Romney described almost half of Americans as ‘people who pay no income tax’ and are ‘dependent upon government.’ Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are ‘victims’ who are ‘entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.’ ”

Set aside the inhumanity so profanely on display, that in Mitt Romney’s America poor people deserve to be left starving in the street. He’s already said in public he doesn’t care about them.

But Romney is correct in one respect: 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax. Yet his attempt to conjure up the GOP’s retro boogeyman from the 90s — a class of Americans unwilling to work and thrilled to live on government handouts from real Americans — doesn’t come close to the facts.

Actually, the vast majority of Americans who don’t make enough to meet the threshold for federal income taxes are either employed at a low-wage hourly jobs (sometimes two or three of them) or are elderly seniors whose Social Security payments are low enough they don’t qualify (60 percent who don’t pay federal income tax have a job and 44 percent are elderly). Still more are wounded veterans whose injuries prevent them from working. Another major group: College students who are going to school to get an education so they can find work. The remainder, nearly a third, are middle class households where parents earn enough to qualify were it not for child and marriage tax credits — which Mitt Romney supports — that put them under the threshold.

So can we stop with the welfare queen schtick? These aren’t free loaders, they’re average, hard-working Americans or retirees who’ve done their time.

I’m certain any number of veterans, parents, blue collar workers, seniors and students will be shocked to learn they aren’t worth a presidential candidate’s time — much less his attention or concern — because they’re such a drain on society.

By now I should be able to say Romney’s inability relate to the lives led by ordinary Americans is unsurprising. This is the man who said “corporations are people, too,” that he doesn’t “care about poor people” and that he “likes firing people.” His idea of a friendly wager is $10,000, not $10. His wife owns a dancing horse and their garage has an elevator — for the cars. 

With all that, why in the world should anyone be surprised at his inability to articulate a vision for the country that addresses problems plaguing average Americans?

Still, this is particularly disturbing. 

A man cannot be president of this country and write off the concerns of half the electorate. He is correct that his message of lower taxes won’t resonate with many people who don’t pay them. He is blind to the fact his campaign offers no solutions for them.

That Mitt Romney can’t understand why people aren’t embracing his campaign is sad. Sadder still is his unabashed cynicism concerning their support.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.