The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 20, 2012

Romney should worry about 47%

Daily Item

---- — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney unquestionably hopes Americans would just move past his off-the-cuff comments secretly taped during a speech to donors.

But for almost half of Americans, it will be difficult. And the rest of Americans ought to wonder about Romney's thought process too.

Romney characterized "47 percent" of the people as being inclined to support President Barack Obama. Romney said that those 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government and they pay no federal income taxes.

Romeny said as president he would not worry about those people.

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he said.

Nine out of 10 people who pay no taxes earn less than $50,000 a year. Many of those people are seniors. Others are working families. A family of four earning less than $26,400 a year would pay no federal income tax. There are many people who pay taxes or paid taxes before retirement who are somewhat dependent on the government. Twenty-six percent of Americans receive assistance through Medicaid, and 16 percent collect benefits from Social Security.

Romney initially explained only that his comments were not "elegantly stated" but did not apologize for his comments. By Wednesday, he had shifted to argue that as president he believes that his job is to improve the lives of 100 percent of Americans. He has made clear how he will improve the lives of the wealthy, but he has never provided much clarity about how he will help the middle and lower classes.

Those who deal with the poor on a regular basis know that many of the people now seeking government assistance or other aid would like to take responsibility for their lives.

Workers did not shut factories and move jobs overseas. The middle class did not manipulate the banking system to profit from the collapse of the housing market.

Workers lost their jobs. Middle class families lost their homes.

They have not acted like victims, they have generally responded stoically by trying to put the pieces of their lives back together and soldier on. But they are victims.

Romney's comments add insult to the injury these Americans have suffered.

If Romney thinks Americans will forget the slight by November, that is another insult. Romney must demonstrate that he does worry about "those people."