Tag Archives: Factcheck.org

Are Romney’s “Victims” Actually Middle-Class Republican Voters?

By Stacey J. Haseleu

On Monday, September 17th, Mother Jones, a non-profit news organization, posted Governor Mitt Romney’s comments from a leaked video during a $50,000 a plate private Republican fundraiser in May.  In his comments, Romney suggests that 47% of American voters do not pay income taxes, are “victims” dependent on government, and that “his job is not to worry about these people.”  He said this 47% “will vote for the president no matter what.”

Romney defended his comments in a news conference on Monday evening saying, “It’s a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry.”  When asked what he meant by the word “victims,” Romney said, “My campaign is about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed again, particularly those who don’t have work.”

The Obama campaign used these quotes against Romney’s already shaky campaign. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager said, “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

Romney called for the release of the full video, and on Tuesday afternoon Mother Jones obliged.

Since Romney spoke for nearly 48 minutes on varying subjects, below is the transcript of his comments directly related to the 47% remarks:

Audience member: For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?

Romney: 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 that 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, 48—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. And 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 that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 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, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…

[Recording stops.]

Romney says that the 47% “will vote for the president no matter what.”  To evaluate this statement, it’s important to note that since these individuals are not paying federal income taxes, many would fall into a low-income tax bracket.

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll in July 2012 indicating 42% of those making between $30,000 and $50,000 per year would vote for Romney.

Additionally, a map released by the Tax Foundation illustrates that the states with the highest percentage of non tax filers (those who don’t pay income taxes) are states that typically vote Republican.

Romney states that 47% of Americans that do not pay federal income tax are “dependent on the government.”  A statement that was partially true; however, his comments do not take into consideration which people in our society compose that 47%.

47% equates to approximately 76 million people.  Factcheck.org  provides a break down of those 76 million people:

  • 50% have such a low-income that when personal exemptions and dependents are factored in, no income is left to be taxed.  These individuals do still have payroll taxes deducted.
  • 22% are senior citizens receiving benefits including Social Security.  They generally have an income of less than $25,000 a year.  It should be noted that among those 65 and older, Romney leads Obama by 9 points (52% to 43%).
  • 15.2% receive tax credits and deductions under the earned income tax credit and/or the dependent child tax credit. The child tax credit was enacted during Bill Clinton’s administration, but was doubled under George W. Bush.  The earned income tax credit was enacted under President Ford.  President Reagan once praised it as “one of the best antipoverty programs this country’s ever seen.”
  • The remaining 12.8% owe no federal taxes due to various tax expenditures like education credits, and reduced rates on capital gains and dividends.  The Tax Policy Center estimates that about 7,000 families that fall in this category are individuals who earn at least $1 million a year.

The blanket statement that all of the 47% of people “are dependent on federal government” is false.  Romney does not take into consideration the individual situations of those who are enrolled in college, senior citizens on Social Security which they paid into all their lives, and even millionaires with tax breaks due to capital gains and dividends.

Further examination of his comments proves that at least a portion of the 47% he states it’s not his job to “worry about” are actually Republican voters.

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Is Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Possible?

By Stacey J. Haseleu

Mitt Romney said in an interview with ABC news correspondent George Stephanopoulos on Friday, September 14, “Let me tell you, George, the fundamentals of my tax policy are these. Number one, reduce tax burdens on middle-income people. So no one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.”

“Number two, don’t reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest. The top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today,” he continued.

Romney’s comments on his tax plan come after repeated weeks of attack by both the Democratic Party and media sources criticizing the plan, stating it is mathematically impossible to reduce taxes on both the top income earners as well as the middle class (defined as those making less than $250,000 per year or less) while also reducing the deficit.

Romney’s proposed plan, which, according to the Tax Policy Center (TPC), is estimated to cost $360 billion per year beginning in 2015, would do the following:

  • Maintain the Bush-era income tax rates
  • Repeal estate taxes
  • Lower the Corporate tax from 35% to 25%
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Eliminate interest, dividend, and capital gains taxes for taxpayers earning $200,000 or less
  • Keep tax rates low on savings and investment
  • Maintain the current progressive system (meaning those in higher income brackets pay a higher tax percentage)

Although he does not give specifics, Romney plans on paying for the tax breaks by closing tax loopholes.

During the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Folks, Governor Romney believes it’s OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000 in order to pay for another trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.”

Biden’s comments were based on an August 1, 2012 analysis of Romney’s individual, corporate, and estate tax plan conducted by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.  The report, co-authored by William G. Gale, a former staff economist in President Bush Senior’s White House and Adam Looney a senior economist in Obama’s White House, states, “Our major conclusion is that any revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

Authors Eugene Kiely and Brooks Jackson of factcheck.org conclude, “Romney is not arguing that more jobs and growth should compensate for a tax system that puts a greater burden, or a larger share of a reduced burden, on middle-income taxpayers. He’s promising that the share of taxes won’t change. He has failed to prove that’s possible. And based on available evidence, we don’t see that it is.”

As Romney has not indicated specifics of which tax loopholes would be eliminated in his plan, his campaign claims that the TPC’s report makes assumptions and does not take into consideration the economic growth that would come from reducing the corporate tax rate to 25%.  Romney emphasized his “entire tax plan — including the corporate tax cuts — will be paid for through a combination of cutting spending, broadening the corporate tax base, and placing some curbs on personal tax deductions, exemptions and credits.”

Politifact.com reviewed the TPC’s study and said that it “did make assumptions, but that those assumptions tried to give the Romney campaign the benefit of the doubt.”

William McBride of the Tax Foundation, a pro-business, non-profit organization claims a 1 to 2 percent economic growth would occur by reducing the corporate tax rate; however, he also concurs with the TPC’s analysis that Romney’s plan would benefit mainly high-income earners.

The Brookings Institute and Tax Policy Center, a non-profit, public policy organization based in Washington D.C., conducted a study similar to that of the TPC.  Unlike the TPC’s report, Brookings based their study solely on the components of Romney’s plan that were made available.  No assumptions were made with regards to which tax loopholes would be closed. They concluded, “It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers.”

The chart below, part of Brookings Institute’s study, illustrates the projected percent of change in after-tax income after the implementation of Romney’s tax plan.

Those making less than $200,000 will clearly face an after-tax income slash of 1.2% while those making $200,000 and above would see an after-tax income increase ranging from 0.8% up to 4.1%.

The figures above not only show an increase in middle-income tax burden, but they also reflect a decrease in tax burden of the top 5%.  Both factors contradict Governor Romney’s September 14th statement that the major fundamentals of his tax plan would “reduce tax burdens on middle-income people” and insure “the top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today.”

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“You didn’t build that,” a jab at President Obama during the RNC taken out of context?

By Stacey J. Haseleu

Despite a hurricane and the absence of once key members of the Republican party such as former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even once loved, Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, the Republican National Convention did proceed this past week. A series of speakers laid the foundation for Republican nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s platform. But were the bricks of the Republican platform’s foundation built on solid ground? For the purposes of this posting, I would like to focus, as so many of the speakers did, on Obama’s statement “you didn’t build that.”

As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post states, “From House Speaker John A. Boehner to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to Ann Romney, speaker after speaker made reference to Obama’s statement that “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

But where exactly did this statement come from? And did the speakers at the RNC give this statement fair justice? Or did they take it out of context and spin it until it became unrecognizable to the actual context of Obama’s original quote?

The original statement was made by President Obama on July 13 at a campaign appearance in Roanoke, Virginia. It didn’t take long for the Romney campaign to cash in on the out of context statement. On July 15 Mitt Romney’s campaign posted the video below.

Romney’s Campaign Video

In its 15 second entirety, the heavily edited video features President Obama saying five times, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

From there the political faux pas spread like wildfire. On July 20, American Crossroads, a conservative group founded by Karl Rove posted the below web video featuring the President’s comments.

American Crossroad’s Video

American business owners responded in outrage against the comments, and this gave many of the RNC’s speakers an opportunity to cash in on what could be taken — out of context of course — as a huge blow to American business owners and entrepreneurs alike who worked so hard to build their businesses and ideas from the ground up.

Yet another video, posted by Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, not only edited Obama’s words and statement until the words were completely out of context, but he also compared Obama’s words to Presidents of the past showing a huge juxtaposition between President Obama’s so-called views on free enterprise verses many past, perhaps considered great, Presidents.

Senator Scott Brown’s Video

But the videos failed to give the complete scope of Obama’s comments. Eugene Kiely posted on factcheck.org the entirety of Obama’s quote in unedited, non-video format. Obama said:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

What so many failed to realize from the heavily edited videos posted by conservatives in an attempt to propagate the false idea that Obama doesn’t believe in individual accomplishment, is that what President Obama was trying to say is that it takes cooperation by all to build success and that we cannot attribute everything that we (individually or communally) have, to one person; we help one another build and succeed. Everyone does their part in American society.

At no point was President Obama making the point that business owners didn’t build their own businesses or that successful entrepreneurs didn’t deserve credit for the hard work and risk they devoted to make their dreams a reality. Still as Peter Baker, a former correspondent with the Washington Post, tweeted, “If Obama had a nickel for every time a Republican quoted his “didn’t build it” line, that would take care of the whole national debt problem.”

Knowing the full context of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote discredits the speakers at the Republican National Convention. If they are so indignantly and passionately criticizing our current President on a quotation of words taken out of context, what other information that they’re offering to the voters is also being taken out of context?

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