Yesterday evening news broke of comments made by Mitt Romney at a closed fundraiser back in May. During the fundraiser Romney talked of the high number of people who are dependent on the government, and the likelihood that they’d vote for Obama.
Here it is again in case you missed it:
A transcript of the key quote:
“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…
“And I mean the president starts off with 48, 49 … he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
I don’t know how Romney’s comments will play out in terms of the election, but we should pause for a moment to reflect on their truth.
We can argue about Romney’s numbers – the 47% of the electorate he talks about which pays no income taxes undoubtedly does pay other forms of taxes – but the rising tide of dependence on government is troubling. We have record levels of food stamp enrollment. We have record levels of people collecting disability through Social Security. But it’s not just entitlement programs which are our problem.
The government doles out huge subsidies to companies – solar, wind, etc. – with few hopes of ever being independent of those subsidies. And those companies employ workers who are no doubt looking to vote to keep those subsidies flowing. Public sector unions don’t want to see their ranks diminished by cuts to government. Farmers don’t their crop insurance programs cut. Big corporations don’t want their corporate welfare ended. Local political leaders don’t want their earmarks cut.
And on and on. Romney’s lament, though he only pointed to the number of Americans no longer on tax rolls, was an accurate one. Our federal government and its out-of-control spending growth is so enthralled by thousands of different flavors of parochialism that we have little hope of ever fixing the problem until some swath of the electorate is willing to let their “ox” be gored in the name of the greater good.
Our federal government is spending a trillion more dollars per year than it takes in revenue, a deficit that is impossible to make up with tax hikes, but a big chunk of the electorate is going to vote for the guy who promises to keep the gravy train rolling.
That was Romney’s point, and he’s right.