LatinaLista — The headline on Politico blares “Mitt Romney, man of constant sorrow.” The article is in relation to the seemingly non-stop gaffes that the Republican presidential candidate has been making before and since accepting the nomination at the GOP convention in Tampa.
To be fair, Obama and his team have had their share too of verbal gaffes — “the private-sector is fine” or business owners didn’t build their businesses themselves — but at least there’s a break between his gaffes. For Romney, the stumbles keep coming.
While some of the missteps were out of Romney’s control, the majority came from his own lips. Who goes to a foreign country, and an ally no less, and talks to their press casting doubt on that country’s ability to stage a successful Olympics? Or doesn’t mention once in a national primetime acceptance speech the service of our military but is quick to imply that’s exactly he would send in to deal with a rogue Iran, China or Russia, if they disrespected or posed harm to our country in some perceived way?
The latest gaffe that is proving to be harder to shake off than all the others is the video that was leaked showing Romney talking at a Florida fundraising function. It’s so damning because in the particular section that most Americans care about, Romney isn’t talking about Pakistan or China or Russia or Iran. He’s talking about the 47 percent of American people who support Obama and who, according to Romney, love government handouts.
In the video, Romney is heard saying:
“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. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
The statement is insulting. It’s almost as insensitive as telling people to go ask their parents to borrow money if they’re in hard times. To say that people, who use the safety nets the government furnishes, since they don’t have a cushy trust account or wealthy relatives to lean on, feel entitled to healthcare, food and housing, highlights a deep disconnect with the pain many Americans, and yes, Latinos are enduring.
To say that no one is entitled to healthcare, food or housing goes beyond cruel. It’s appalling to think that a Romney administration would deem those basic universal rights as capitalistic and elitist commodities.
As has become the norm now when members of either campaign are talking, some news outlets are fact-checking statements.
CBS News has a detailed explanation of their fact-checking of Romney’s statement which in part says:
In order to assess whether or not, as Romney claims, these non-income tax payers “will vote for the president no matter what,” it’s helpful to look at a breakdown of who they are. According to 2011 data from the Tax Policy Center, more than half of the filing units not paying income taxes are those with incomes less than $16,812 per year. Nearly a third – 29.2 percent – of those paying no income taxes are tax filers earning between $16,812 and $33,542, and 12.8 percent are those with incomes between $33,542 and $59,486. In other words, the poor are least likely to pay federal income taxes, but many middle-class families are also exempt. Smaller but significant numbers of the higher-income earners are also exempt: The same data shows that in 2011, 78,000 tax filers with incomes between $211,000 and $533,000 paid no income taxes; 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million paid no income taxes, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million paid no income taxes.
The majority of who comprise the poor in this country are Latino and African American. Add the elderly, single moms and those so sick that they can’t work, and any other single or widowed woman, and that pretty much comprises the 47 percent.
This past year alone, I’ve met more people who squeak by on meager checks who don’t think of food stamps as an entitlement but a necessity to keep their children and themselves from starving. They already forego healthcare until they have a pain too unbearable to stand anymore and then they go to a clinic where they have to wait for several hours before being seen. They’ve cut out all extras like shopping at the mall, having cable TV, and even home Internet — and they don’t even entertain the idea of upgrading their cell phones, just to keep a roof over their heads.
This time, Romney’s statements were more than just a gaffe. They underscore the sad reality that exists with someone of his income bracket who can’t even pretend to know what a hard life is all about and assumes that all people who use government programs do it to take advantage of the system when, in a lot of cases, it’s the other way around.