8 Falsehoods, Lies and Misstatements From Romney Fundraising Video
Mother Jones released the first of several video excerpts secretly shot at a Mitt Romney fundraiser earlier this year, presumably after he secured the Republican nomination in late May. The first video excerpts, and a related article by MoJo’s David Corn, made big waves on Monday; they show Romney making a series of broad-brush comments insulting Obama voters as ne’er-do-wells who linger on the public payroll and don’t pay taxes.
And that’s only the start. Romney apparently says he would be doing better if he had been born to Mexican parents, says he can’t get too intellectual or specific and win the White House, says the economy would recover by virtue of his election alone—and a whole bunch of other assertions that one feels comfortable making in a room that’s apparently filled with people he believes can raise millions of dollars for him.
There are many things that are disturbing about Romney's fundraiser remarks, starting with the undignified portrayal of the American middle class. But there also are some big factual errors, which show that Romney doesn’t know the country he seeks to lead. AlterNet went through several of the video excerpts and fact-checked his claims. (Romney’s words are in italics, followed by the fact-checking and video below.)
VIDEO I: Obama and the 47 Percenters
1. “ 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 healthcare, to food, to housing, 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.”
Are all of Obama’s supporters on some form of public assistance—whether state welfare programs, Medicare, Social Security, a government pension or disability payment? The answer, obviously, is no. According to a JZ Analytics poll of 1,014 likely voters between 9/11 and 9/12, of which 469 backed Obama (46.3%) and 395 backed Romney (38.9%), 137 people, or 29 percent, said they earned more than $75,000 a year. That alone tells you that there is something wrong with Romney’s assertion.
The deeper you go, however, it is possible to see where Romney gets his figure of about half of Americans relying on some form of government assistance—particularly after the stock market crashed in 2008 and Great Recession ensued. According to U.S. Census information cited in various news reports, in 2011’s first quarter, 49.1 percent of the American population lived in households receiving some form of govenment aid. That figure grew by 5 percent since 2008. But, for Romney to be correct, those beneficiaries would not include any Republican households, which is absurd. In fact, landlocked red states rely on federal subsidies that come from taxes paid by coastal blue states—and have for years, as this chart, which comes via Greg Mitchell, points out.
2. “ I mean the president starts off with 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.”
These tax numbers are slippery—the equivalent of cherry-picking statistics to butress a foregone conclusion. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has examined this claim and issued this detailed analysis, which says that in 2009 about 51 percent of the country did not pay federal income tax. That figure was up from 40 percent before the economic downtown. Anyway, these households paid many other taxes—whether federal fees, levies or state and local taxes.