The Real Mitt Revealed

This video is significant in two ways.

First are the distortions. Romney says 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes. That’s literally true, except it’s misleading because it includes every retiree who hasn’t enough income to pay income taxes (most retirees), every poor and lower-income person who doesn’t have enough income to pay, and a few multi-millionaires (perhaps like Romney himself — we don’t know because he won’t release his tax returns), who don’t pay because of tax loopholes and tax-avoidance schemes. Moreover, just about all working Americans, regardless of income, pay federal payroll taxes. Everyone pays state and local sales taxes. And so on.

Romney also distorts reality by purposely mixing “entitlements” with “a sense of entitlement,” and lumps in all recipients of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits into his 47 percent. Even though these programs are considered “entitlement” spending, their recipients are not undeserving; they don’t consider themselves entitled to handouts. They’ve paid into these insurance plans through their payroll taxes.

But the the most important revelation here isn’t Romney’s witting distortions. It’s his indignant condemnation of almost half the American electorate. A president is supposed to represent all of America, not just the 51 percent who elect him, and have a modicum of sympathy for the less fortunate among us.

Yet here is the real Mitt Romney — a fabulously wealthy financier, presumably speaking to other wealthy people (note the waiters scurrying about), with a passion we haven’t before seen in him — saying it isn’t his “job” to worry about Americans who he describes as “irresponsible,” who fail to take care of themselves, and whose neediness is presumably their own fault.

Some of us thought Romney was without core or principle, an empty suit that would say anything to be elected. But here, evidently, is the real Mitt — a man whose core principle is clearly on display, and articulated with deep conviction: social Darwinism — survival of the richest, the hell with those who need a helping hand.

In a subsequent news conference he attempted to make it sound as if he was talking here about political strategy, not social conviction. Watch and see for yourself.

About Robert Reich 547 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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