Wednesday, September 19, 2012

About that 47%

To be completely honest, a few weeks ago I started thinking a Romney Presidency might be good for America. I hate to say that and let Ben and my Father read it; they both strongly disagree. But I bring this up because it might help demonstrate how two of Romney's most recent comments have changed my mind (and possibly other more moderate voters like myself). It is one thing to know how someone votes (and I'm sure you've  all assumed I'll be voting for Obama), but it is another thing to know how someone came to that conclusion. So if you are interested in the later, read on.

I've always had two minor hang ups with Romney. One, I don't like his warmongering foreign policy views. I'm hesitant to let my vote put him in office because I feel he has too much pride  in American force. I, like Romney, want America to be a force for good in the world, but not through brute use of our military, not through continually asking our servicemen and women and their families to continue to make huge sacrifices while the rest of us sacrifice so little. In the debates I've seen and on Romney's own campaign website he strikes me as too eager to use American military force to achieve/maintain world dominance. Additionally, I don't want a President that too eagerly chooses sides amongst the world's warring nations.

To be fair, Democrats aren't the war enders they claim to be. Democrat Presidents may have a lower record of starting wars, but not necessarily a lower record of ending them (which may have more to do with historical timing and luck than anything else). I also fully acknowledge Democrat Presidents love to use missile missions (in Obama's case, a crap load of drones spread throughout the Middle East and Africa). Still, something about Romney's approach to foreign policy just didn't sit well with me.

Then last week he repeatedly referred to religious hate speech as an "American value." He spoke too quickly and too sharply while people serving our country in Embassies across the Middle East were putting their lives on the line. Of course, my interpretations of his actions surrounding the embassy attacks are simply that, my interpretations. But after his reaction to the protests, some violent and some peaceful, I pretty much knew I wasn't going to vote for him. My doubts in his foreign policy skills had been affirmed.

As for my second hang up, well its harder to put that one in words. It probably has more to do with the GOP in general than Mitt Romney himself. I guess the simplest way I can put it is that I strongly believe the Democratic party is more willing to put the interests of middle class families before the interest of big money. Again, to be fair -- both parties cater to the wealthy. Both parties let the lobbyists with the deepest pockets drive policy. But when I listen to two candidates side by side, I'm almost always more convinced it is the Democrat candidate that might actually stand up for middle class working families. More often than not if you research two candidates side by side it is the Democratic candidate who has actually lived the life of a middle class working family (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama actually had pretty intriguing and difficult childhoods if you care to take the time to learn about them).

This leads us to the infamous 47% remark. Which, in the interest of full disclosure, I think was a cheap shot made by Mother Jones, and their poor sportsmanship does nothing to help the image that the media has a liberal bias (instead of the reality that the media has a two party bias). Regardless, I'm intrigued by what Romney said, and I have lots of thoughts as to what it means for me and my vote come November 6th.

I know the leaked video is more complex than my "it's a or b scenario", but Romney was either a) pandering to the donors -- which is fine because that's what politicians do OR b) he is totally oblivious as to who those 47% are and why they aren't required to pay federal income taxes. If it is the later, he has convinced me he is not interested in putting middle class families first.

If you have ever been able to answer yes to any of the following questions, you have been part of that 47% at that point in your life.
1. Did you work part time to put yourself through college or hold a part time job in High School? I did a combination of the two for 8 years, and during those 8 years I didn't pay federal income tax. What a louse I was!
2. Does your household income average out to about $10,000 per family member?
3. Are you a retired Senior Citizen?
4. Are you engaging in US combat overseas?
5. Are you classified as living in poverty?
And the most important question ... do you really think that people who can answer YES to any of the above are "dependent upon the government" and unable to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives"? Apparently Mr Romney does.

Not paying federal income taxes is not equivalent to relying on the government in my opinion. And if Romney honestly believes no one that answers yes to the above questions is going to vote for him he is WAY out of touch with this country, its electorate, and the way its tax payer pool is made up.

But this might not even be the greatest hypocrisy in his comments. Remember this is Mitt Romney, the man who has repeatedly touted he "pays all that he is legally obligated to pay in taxes and not a dollar more," so it shouldn't surprise him nor upset him that 47% of Americans do the same (but because they are poor, elderly, or low-income working families). Somehow the mere discussion of restoring tax rates to 1990s levels is class warfare, but calling working individuals who don't earn enough money to have to pay federal income taxes isn't?

The rationale confounds me.

Oh, and PS: It was Reagan's tax policy that made the 47% possible. 


Scott and Claudia said...

Enjoyed your commentary. I listened to NPR all the way to and from SLC. It was very informative and what you say about the 47% is what they said. That is one news source I can trust -- probably the only one.

Romney is not in touch with the common man. He has not lived life as most of us experience it and therefore, in my opinion, is totally unqualified to represent the masses.

As for the Republican Party, they protect the rich, their foreign policy is hawkish and they have little regard for civil rights -- three things I vehemently oppose.

When in doubt, mark the box that says "D" after the name of the person running for office. That's what Great Grandfather Petersen was told to do by the brethren and I am one (in the minority I suppose) of his posterity that follows suit.

Love, Pa

Tiff said...

I figure if you want to know what a candidate will do in the next four years, look at their record. You obviously can't trust what they say otherwise things would be WAY different right now seeing the difference in the Obama campaign promises of 2008 and reality. If you like what Obama has done or not done then vote for him because it's going to be more of the same.

If you look at Romney's record as governor and you see that his policies and the things he did there were hurtful to poor people and women or to the economy then don't vote for him.

Since Obama has said that he will work around congress instead of with them I doubt much will get done. Hopefully the economy will get better despite Obama's constant threats to raise taxes on job creators, his lack of trade agreements (that's a big deal for me since I majored in internatl economics & internatl commerce), and ever increasing debt (he said he was going to cut it in half last time when I was really worried about it so I'm not holding my breath this time around).

Polly Blevins said...

I kind of responded to your post. It is long if you want to read it then that is great. If not that is fine. I was going to respond to your facebook post but I had too much to say. Obviously if you look at my blog.

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