Mitt Romney says half of Americans are immoral parasites who think they’re ‘victims’

The scoop seems to belong to David Corn of Mother Jones,SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters“:

During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

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…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney goes on to say that such moochers can never be convinced “to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So with the release of this video, it seems Mitt Romney has shifted from worrying that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him to ensuring that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him.

Josh Marshall tries to make sense of this, saying “Mitt seems to string together a handful of really distinct conservative talking points — and in a way that makes you think he just heard them in a fragmentary way and pasted them together without any clear sense of what he was saying.”

It is true that President Obama has enjoyed the steady support of about 47 percent of the country throughout his first term. It is also true that if you add up everyone who’s retired, still in school or working poor — i.e., people who don’t owe federal income taxes — that this is also about 47 percent of the country. (Or, rather, it peaked at 47 percent following the 2008 financial crisis.)

But it’s really weird to suggest, as Romney does, that this is the same 47 percent.

Last time I checked, there were plenty of senior citizens who are also Republicans. And those folks don’t take kindly to being told they’re “dependent” on government, or that they’re whiny moochers with a sense of entitlement.

No one likes being accused of that. Not senior citizens, not students, not the working poor. Not Democrats, or Republicans, or Independents.

Ari Kohen wonders why Romney even wants to be president: “Why would you want to be president of a country when you hold almost half of the citizenry in utter contempt?”

Josh Barro thinks the “combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him” will be politically disastrous.

Ed Kilgore wonders what will be more harmful to the Romney campaign: “the video … or the ‘Hell yes!’ reactions to it from the rawer elements of the conservative chattering classes.”

“Romney’s theory of the ‘taker class,'” Ezra Klein says, is “core to his economic agenda.” The idea that America is divided between “makers” and “takers” isn’t true, Klein writes, but “Behind this argument, however, is a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in coming years.”

Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru agrees that Romney’s “makers vs. takers” idea is false. It is also, he says, bad politics: “most people don’t see themselves in that storyline, any more than they see themselves as dependents of the federal government. They don’t see Americans as divided between makers and takers.”

Ryan Chittum has some good background on the roots of Romney’s rehash and mishmash of the old “lucky duckies” canard.

Ta-Nehisi Coates says Romney’s remarks remind him “of Lee Atwater’s famous explanation of the Southern Strategy.”

Coates ends on an unexpectedly hopeful note. “When the party of white populism finds itself writing off half the country,” he writes, “we are really close.”

Charlie Pierce is less hopeful. Now that Romney has “declared a class war on himself,” Pierce says, “There’s really only one campaign left to him now”:

Unfortunately for American politics, that means only one thing. It’s going to get extraordinarily dirty extraordinarily fast. There is going to be pale birtherism and barely covert racism. The body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens is going to be exhumed and used as a bludgeon. There is going to be poor-baiting, and gay-baiting, and ladyparts-baiting, and probably baiting of things I haven’t thought of yet. The polite part of the campaign is going to be Romney’s effort to convince You that he was really talking about Them when he was calling people moochers and sneak thieves. He wasn’t talking about Your Medicare or Your Social Security. Naw, he was talking about Their greed for what You have. That’s going to be the polite part of the rest of the campaign, reinforced in the lower registers by a few million in ads to make sure You remember who They are.

The full video of Romney’s remarks at the fundraiser may not be as initially damaging as his disdainful comments about the entitled moochers who think they’re victims, but as more of the speech receives attention, the rest of it won’t be good for Romney’s campaign either.

Romney’s rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East, for example, won’t likely win him many votes. Particularly when he outlines his idea of foreign-policy leadership: “We have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

Romney isn’t about “hope and change.” He’s about “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen.”

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  •  I daresay that the fact you can see this places you firmly outside Mitt’s demographic.

    The GOP has done a VERY good job in recent years in convincing the victims of their policies that “When we talk about those freeloading poor people, we don’t mean *you*, we mean the black undeserving poor! Not *you*! (quietly: Seriously, we mean black people.)”

  • There’s just something so profoundly disconnected, though, about  the way some rich people view the world. Maybe not Mitt so much, but Ann Romney qualifies with her ridiculously vapid, “Oh, we totes scrimped and saved and yadda yadda da.”

    But to be conscious of it – and to sink to such a depth – “evil” and “diabolical” do cover it well.

  • PJ Evans

    a lot of these people who have no net federal income tax liability do not
    realize it because they still have a non-zero total tax liability

    It’s hard to miss. Federal tax liability is the one that everyone knows about; not all states have income tax or sales tax.


    working and middle class white votes are necessary for the Republican party to ever win anything. 

    (nods) Agreed, as long as we remain at least a nominal republic, which I hope we do in perpetuity.

    But it seems that can relatively easily lead to class war waged between a coalition of the upper and middle classes against the lower classes.

  • PJ Evans

    the grandpa of a smart, persistent person

    Said grandpa is reportedly pleased with his namesake.

  • PJ Evans

     Well, Huntsman might have been a better choice, but he wasn’t conservative enough for the party bosses.

  • Figs

    Sure, if you know what you’re talking about. If all you know is that you see money coming out of your check every week on a federal income tax line, and you don’t necessarily connect that to getting all of that money back in April, and you still wind up paying payroll taxes and other taxes, I feel like you probably wouldn’t think of yourself as part of this 47%.

  • PJ Evans

    So, this 47% statistic… is it supposed to be 47% of

    My understanding is that it’s 47 percent of the households in the US.

  • PJ Evans

     Like I said, that connection is hard to miss: you have to file a federal tax return to get that money back, or to get EITC.
    Been there, done that. And my response to Rmoney and Lyin’ Ryan is [hold up hand with three fingers out, pointing sideways]: ‘Read between the lines, assholes.’

  • Figs

    Fair point, though I think you’re giving way too much credit to the crowd that produced “get your government hands off my Medicare.”

  • Lori


    And if the rich people keep squeezing, rather than compromising, they tend to end up dead.  

    The current behavior of our monied overlords strikes me as pretty clear proof that they don’t teach history any better in those fancy prep schools and Ivy League universities than the do at PS 84 and State U. If they did one would expect the current crop of 1 percenters to notice that they’re traveling at a high rate of speed down the road to PitchforksandTorchesVille.

  • Lori


    I don’t think he’d do it for fun, but I can easily imagine Romney
    torturing a puppy or climbing up a bell tower if he thought it’d get him
    what he wanted.  

    I actually don’t think Romney would do that. I do absolutely believe he’d hire someone to do it for him and sleep perfectly well at night after he signed the check.

  • EllieMurasaki

    one would expect the current crop of 1 percenters to notice that they’re traveling at a high rate of speed down the road to PitchforksandTorchesVille.

    Between American exceptionalism (has such a thing ever actually happened in the US? because I do not recall such, even in the small scale, and while I admit I am not the greatest student of US history, that seems like a thing I’d have heard of) and the fact that they’ve got more money than anyone ever has in order to boost the illusion that their money will protect them, I think that they may have noticed and simply don’t think it’ll happen.

  • Lori


    (has such a thing ever actually happened in the US? because I do not
    recall such, even in the small scale, and while I admit I am not the
    greatest student of US history, that seems like a thing I’d have heard

    I think the Battle of Blair Mountain probably qualifies. That was an actual armed rebellion, with gun battles and everything, over wages and working conditions. I think there were other actions during the heyday of US labor that would also count, but I can’t think of any (it was a long night at work and I’m not exactly in top form memory-wise right now).

    In general we teach our labor history even more poorly than we teach other aspects of our history and I somehow doubt that the offspring of the rich hear much about it. At least not much that’s true.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think the Battle of Blair Mountain probably qualifies.

    *wikis* I should think so. Why have I never heard about this before? This is important.

  • Speaking of Romney?

    So, back in 1969, his daddy gave him about 60 grand worth of stock, which he sold off to “make ends meet”.

    60. thousand. dollars.

    In 1969.

    That’s the equivalent of $377,000 in today’s money.

    Mitt Romney sold off stock worth a full ride’s worth of school, and he and his wife have the temerity to claim that experience is the equivalent of any of the 99%’s struggles to put themselves or their kids through school.

    The sheer magnitude of the disconnection between his life and the average person’s is so large as to be utterly incomprehensible.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Even if it was sixty grand in today’s dollars, I think that windfall alone would make it damn hard for Romney to understand my economic situation.

  • Lori

     We teach our labor history very, very poorly. People have been trying for years to get Blair Mountain declared a national historic site (in part, irony or ironies, to save it from mountain top removal mining). So far they’ve been unsuccessful. We still have statues to f’ing Nathan Bedford Forrest, but we can’t get Blair Mountain preserved.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We still have statues to f’ing Nathan Bedford Forrest


    We what? *floored*

  • Lori
  • AnonymousSam

     Yeah. We have a statue to one of the founders of the KKK on the grounds that “he was a kick-ass general during the Civil War.”

    The fact that he also murdered black people for a living is entirely secondary.

    I heard about it from this:

  • hidden_urchin

    We teach our labor history very, very poorly.

    Of course. Those big corporations wouldn’t want their (future) employees getting any ideas.

  • Lori

    Oh yeah, he was a kick-ass general—-for Treason in Defense of Slavery.

  • Hawker40

    Nathan Bedford Forrest’s command murdered prisoners of war at Fort Pillow.  The KKK which he helped found were terrorists who murdered American citizens by the thousands.  Of course he has a statue dedicated to him for being a “kick-ass general”…
    And I am Queen Marie of Romania.

  • AnonymousSam

    Don’t look at me, I’m not one of the people who worship the Civil War as the greatest military event in history. The fact that there are thousands of people who do disturbs the everloving hell out of me.

  • Lori

    Sadly true. Which is why anyone who is interested has to do the work themselves.

    The folks at the Labor and Working Class History Association have some interesting things.

    Including some info on Friends of Blair Mountain and their ongoing attempt to save the site

    The Shanker Institute did a depressing, but worthwhile report on just how crappy our labor history education is. Their report is here:

    I also can’t say enough good things about the “This day in labor history” series that Eric Lomis is doing over at Lawyers, Guns & Money. He won an award for it not too long ago and it was richly deserved. This is the most recent one and at the bottom there’s a link to the archive of the entire series (42 entries and counting).

  • More and more, I’m coming to the depressing realization that for all that the Union won the Civil War militarily, fighting about the closest thing to a “just war” in history (fighting to end slavery? Hey, go for it!) the Union managed to lose, post facto because of the open refusal by Southern whites to understand or care that things had changed and to continue their furtherance of treason to the laws of the country which governed them, partly by means of misappropriating religious themes of fall-and-redemption.

    Aided and abetted by politicians – in this case if ever you wanted to blame the politicians you certainly could!* – the Reconstruction was incompletely carried out, because there were white Democratic politicians in the South who worked where they could to actively hinder it, while relying on the KKK as their effective paramilitary terrorist arm to further that hindrance.


    * As opposed to boilerplate modern Republican kvetching that no politician today is worth a damn because they’re all in it for themselves. Except, of course, God-fearing Republicans.

  • Lori

    This has been a really depressing thread so I offer a bit of a chuckle to offset the gloom—President Obama celebrates Talk Like A Pirate day.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Can all our presidents be geeks?

  • PJ Evans

     ISTR that Shays’s Rebelllion was about taxes and being required to pay them in cash rather than in kind – most people didn’t have much, if any, cash around back then.

  • PJ Evans

     In 1969 my father was making less than $30k a year, as an engineer with thirty years experience.
    Mitt is so clueless I’m surprised he can be allowed out without two keepers.

  • Lori

     If I had my way it would be a job requirement.

  • Lori

    Shays’ Rebellion was against the government though, not against the rich as the rich. I think our current crop of 1% ers would be fine with armed rebellions, at least of certain types, against the government. 

  • Mark Z.

    The always-interesting Adam Cadre, in his article on Andrew Johnson*, blames this largely on Lincoln:

    Once the Civil War was underway, it seemed as though there were two possible outcomes, both of them pretty good: – The South wins and goes its own way, and the Union embarks upon a very different history without a very different culture dragging it hard to the right. – The North wins, the Southern power structure is dismantled, and the entire nation is reshaped by a period of unchallenged dominance of the progressive ideals espoused by the Republican Party of the mid-19th century. Instead, against all odds, the war ended with a Southern Democrat at the head of the United States government. The Great Balancer … had decided that it’d be a good idea to “reach across the aisle.” The result was that he somehow managed to find a path to defeat in a win-win situation.

    * part of his “blogging through the presidents” series

  •  Lol, I have to admit, that’s fantastic.  I wonder how the Republicans will try to spin this? (You know they will.)

  • Münchner Kindl


    who’s also forgotten the poor

    [Citation Needed]

    I was thinking of this article
    which Fred linked to

    Also, please visit whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.c…
    before writing Obama off as impotent. I suspect a fair number of LGBT
    American servicepeople might disagree (to name just one group).

    I didn’t say that he didn’t do anything; it’s just that he campaigned with big promises, big visions and big dreams … and then the Republican/ Tea party controlled House/ Senate showed how much a legal POTUS can be blocked, so we got to watch the endless dragging-on of the Health care law; the debt-ceiling being used as weapon; the threat of filibuster stopping everything.

    On top of that, things like increasing drones and not closing Gitmo were active decisions by Obama.

  • Münchner Kindl


    Because it’s not sociopathy; it’s definitely a lack of empathy and a
    whole lot of privilege, but it’s not sociopathy.  None of the people
    cleaving to this really do want to go out and stomp on homeless people.
     They simply don’t know.

    I don’t want to Godwinze, but that’s exactly what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil” or what TPratchett talked about with the inquisitors in “Small Gods” who after a day of torturing go home to their wifes and kids.

    Today, one person sitting at a desk can sign an order/law that will affect tens of thousands of people – condemning them to live without food if foodstamps are cut, or no medical help if Obamacare is repealed, and go home and think of himself as nice person because he is kind to his neighbours.

    The strong emphasis in US culture on being “nice” and polite, coupled with the stress on “good intentions” from the Christian culture, means that a large amount of people can get away with not bothering to care about the impact the policies they advocate and vote for have on thousands of people they don’t know personally.

    Changing that would require better education but the system of local school boards and home schooling prevents that.

  • The_L1985

     Ugh.  This is why the whole “DURRR, people game the system!” folks piss me off.

    The system isn’t broken if someone takes unfair advantage of it–EVERY system will be abused eventually.  There are assholes.  There are a few people who do, in fact, want something for nothing.  But they’re rare, and the system can handle them to an extent.

    The system is broken if either a large percentage of people using it are doing so unfairly (not the case in the U.S.), or if people aren’t getting desperately-needed services.

  • The_L1985

     Huntsman would have been an actual conservative, not the bizarre theocratic types who have taken over the GOP slowly over the course of my lifetime.

  • The_L1985

    If you get $2000 withheld from your pay for federal income tax over the course of a year, but it’s in small biweekly doses, and you get a $2000 refund, do you necessarily notice that you got every penny back?

    Do you really notice that, essentially, you’ve paid no fed. income tax at all?  Especially if you’re in a state like, say, Alabama, which charges state income tax on pretty much everybody?

  • The_L1985

     Welcome to the U.S. South, home of Confederate flag T-shirts that say things like, “KEEP THE SOUTH BEAUTIFUL: Buy a Yankee a bus ticket!”

  • PJ Evans

    our current crop of 1% ers would be fine with armed rebellions, at least of certain types, against the government

    I think they’d be flattened pretty quickly if they actually tried it.

  • Carstonio

    When I think about that massive failure to win the peace, I’m tempted to concede that Sherman had a point in targeting the plantations in his march to the sea. (These were his targets, despite the later revisionism that claimed he was targeting the entire population.) In the last year or so of the war, the Confederate government had lost most of its support . But I still wonder how the war would have gone if the Union army had bands of marauders burning down plantation houses across the South and freeing slaves, simply to strip the region’s oligarchy of its economic and hopefully political power. If nothing else, it would have been rewarding to see the freed slaves decide the punishments for their former owners.

  • PJ Evans

    do you necessarily notice that you got every penny back

    Depends on whether you actually look at your W2 statement at the end of the year. It has all those numbers on it, and you have to have one to fill out your tax form, so you can get the money back.

    I have a hard time believing that anyone can not understand that kind of thing and still have a paying job, but from what you’re saying, there are people who are like that. (Why do I get the impression that Romney might be one of them?)

  • The_L1985

     You appear to be under the impression that most Americans do what we do and fill out their own tax forms.

    A lot of people don’t bother to learn how–they hire a CPA to do it for them.

  •  The Great Balancer … had decided that it’d be a good idea to “reach across the aisle.”

    Shades of Barack Obama! :O

    People of good will invariably find out too late that sometimes the other side they reach out to does not have any intention of working together honestly.

  • That said, federal tax law often allows deducting off state tax owing, so your federal  tax liability is reduced by that amount.

    As I once said the people who write the tax code, being lawyers largely before they were politicians, have a vested interest in keeping it complicated rather than simple.

    People here didn’t believe me when I pointed out that James Carville had managed to dig up a tax exemption written specifically for one corporation!


    I have a hard time believing that anyone can not understand that kind of thing and still have a paying job

    I not only have a paying job, I have a paying job as a high-tech knowledge worker; I am paid to analyze complex systems insightfuly. I’m comfortably in the most intelligent 1% of the population. And once a year I copy a bunch of numbers from a stack of papers into a computer program that tells me how much tax I owe, and I do my best not to think about it, because thinking about finances makes me twitchy. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

  • Lori


    I think they’d be flattened pretty quickly if they actually tried it.  

    I was unclear due to being tired after a long shift of being a lazy moocher who will just never take responsibility for my life. (Gawd I really hate that guy.)

    I didn’t mean that the 1% wanted to engage in armed rebellion against the government. Why would they bother? What I was trying to say was that it would be find with them if the little people got into it with the government. They’ve been working hard for decades now to make sure that as many of the poor and the getting poorer as possible are pointing their anger at the big, mean ol’ gub’ment in order to keep them from looking at the folks who have actually been taking all their money.

  • aunursa

    Lol, I have to admit, that’s fantastic. I wonder how the Republicans will try to spin this? (You know they will.)

    Ask an’ ye shall receive.