September 23, 2012
If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought to lay to rest his clueless, rich-guy image, his Sunday night appearance on 60 Minutes definitely didn't help.
The CBS News program featured interviews with both Romney and President Barack Obama about their visions for the country. (Video on the last page
of this story.) While Obama took some lumps at the hands of interviewer Steve Kroft for having been unable to "change the tone in Washington" or pass all the legislation he had proposed, Romney seemed quite pleased with himself as he defended the fact that he paid a lower tax rate than someone who earned $50,000 a year, or made the case for repealing Obamacare because the uninsured, if they lived in right state, could get health care in clinics.
Get thee to an emergency room
You'll recall that in the secretly videotaped fundraiser exposed by Mother Jones
, Romney complained to his donors those 47 percent of Americans who he said "see themselves as victims...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
In the 60 Minutes piece, interviewer Scott Pelley pointedly asked Romney: "Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the $50 million Americans who don't have it today?"
"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," Romney said. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."
So, if you're in critical condition and you can get to a phone, you're good to go. Never mind the fact that if you had been getting regular health care, you might not be in critical condition.
Pelley seemed a bit shocked by Romney's answer, if for no other reason than the fact that it makes no business sense, and Romney has staked his claim to the presidency on his track record as a successful businessman.
"It's the most expensive way to do it -- in the emergency room," Pelley said.
"Again, different states have different ways of providing that," Romney replied. "Some provide that care through clinics, some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn't take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, 'You've got to take the Massachusetts model.'"
Romney also said he would turn the federal Medicare budget over to the individual states to do as they saw fit, but would force a slower rate of growth in those dollars than the federal program currently allows.
Mitt thinks he should pay less in taxes than you
The release of Romney's 2011 tax return on Friday showed that he paid just 14 percent in federal income tax, and that the rate would have been even lower if Romney had actually taken all of the deductions to which he was entitled. Chances are you paid a higher rate, especially if most of your income came from doing this thing we call "work". But in the U.S., trading stocks, flipping real estate, reaping dividends from a state-owned Chinese oil company -- the people who do that sort of thing are the people who get the breaks. People like Mitt Romney.
"Now, you made on your investments last year about $20 million personally, and you paid 14 percent in federal taxes," Pelley said. "That's the capital gains rate. Is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 and paid a higher rate than you did?"
"It is a low rate," Romney said, "and one of the reasons the capital gains rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once, at the corporate level -- as high as 35 percent." (Unless your windfall comes from any of the numerous private enterprises that enjoy government subsidies or tax breaks, of course.)
"So you think it is fair," Pelley said.
"Yeah -- I think it's the right way to encourage economic growth -- to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work."
Actually, there's scant evidence
to suggest that lower capital gains rates have any effect on either job creation or economic growth.
I'm the guy running for president -- not whutsizname
During a discussion about Romney's plans to revise Social Security and Medicare as means-tested programs, Romney seemed to get a bit testy over all the attention his running-mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., was getting. On the same day the 60 Minutes piece aired, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an ally of Ryan's in the Dairy State's Koch machine, took to the set of Fox News Sunday to urge Romney to give Ryan more of the spotlight.
Questioned by Pelley on the details of his Medicare plan, Romney repeated the lie (debunked here
by AlterNet's Joshua Holland) that Obama "takes $716 billion away from Medicare." (The new health-care law achieves $716 billion in Medicare savings without affecting benefits.)
"Mr. Ryan has proposed something similar," said Pelley, "almost precisely the same number -- $716 billion --"
Romney interrupted: "He was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit; I'm putting it back into Medicare, and I'm the guy running for president, not him."
Well, all righty, then.
To review: Regular people who feel entitled to food, health care and shelter are moochers who should be happy that an ambulance might make it to their dwelling place in time if they're about to die. Rich people who feel entitled to lower tax rates than working people are engines of economic opportunity. And David Koch's youthful ward had better learn his place.
We'll see how that last one works out.