Mitt Romney’s Bad Math on the 47%

David Frum tears in to Romney for writing off half of the electorate in a two part take down. He points out that government dependency and lack of income taxes are hardly pillar of the Democratic party base.

More than one-fifth of Romney’s moocher 47% are elderly: people who pay no income taxes because their income takes the form of Social Security – many of those people are Republican voters (even if they don’t understand “dependency” to apply to them).

Among today’s elderly, the great majority will receive more in Medicare benefits than they ever paid in taxes – dependency again. You can do the math for yourself and your parents right here

…Only about one-fifth of taxpayers are non-elderly people who pay no tax at all, and they are paying no tax mostly because they are unemployed in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, a crisis that candidate Romney blames on the president and promises to correct. It seems a hard saying to call these promised beneficiaries of a Romney recovery people who don’t take responsibility for their lives.

In the second part of his rebuttal, Frum points out that this thinking is pervasive in the Republican party and right wing media.

The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class.

Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist. Only by donating to my think tank, buying my book, watching my network, going to my movie, can you – can we – stop him before he seizes everything to give to his base of “bums,” as Charles Murray memorably called them.

The reality is that the left is all but frozen by its passiveness. Occupy was a fleeting movement, achieving nothing, but the right views them as an existential attack on capitalism. The true radical movement is on the right:

The only radical mass movement in this country is the Tea Party, a movement to defend the interests of elderly incumbent beneficiaries of the existing welfare state. Against that movement is a government of liberal technocrats dependent on campaign donations from a different faction of the American super-rich than that which backs Mitt Romney himself.

From the greatest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, the rights and perquisites of wealth have emerged undiminished – and the central issue in this election is whether those rights and perquisites shall be enhanced still more, or whether they should be allowed to slip back to the level that prevailed during the boom.

Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless! Watch the trailer of Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie to glimpse into their mental universe: chanting swarthy mobs, churches and banks under attack, angry black people grabbing at other people’s houses.

His piece points out exactly what kind of alternate reality many on the right live in. In their version of reality, hard working entrepreneurs are constantly held back by government forces that over tax and over-regulate them, only to give that money to free loaders and moochers who refuse to work because the welfare state has taken away their motivation and self dignity. Sound like Atlas Shrugged at all? The reality is much messier than an Ayn Rand novel.

So many Americans benefit from government programs it seems unwise (and untrue) to position this election as the achievers vs the moochers.

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