Omigod! Mitt Romney made another colossal gaffe! At a “secretly recorded” fundraiser, he noted that a lot of Americans receive some form of government benefits and a lot of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. Speaking extemporaneously, Romney expressed concern that we are creating a culture of government dependency, a victimization mentality, and an entitlement society — and he thinks the people who fall into those categories probably aren’t likely to be his supporters in the coming election.
Of course, although the surreptitiously taped video made the story seem more tantalizing, there’s nothing really secret about what Romney said at the fundraiser: he’s been saying similar things about people wanting to get free stuff and the recent explosive growth in food stamps and government assistance programs as this ongoing recession lingers and lingers and lingers. And the data back up Romney’s point about the growth of entitlements and government benefits. According to the Census Bureau, in the second quarter of 2011 49 percent of Americans lived in a household that included someone who is receiving a government benefit. Nearly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes.
People can agree or disagree about whether these circumstances are good news or a source of concern. Romney thinks we should be worried about the growth in government benefits and the decline in people who are paying income taxes. Why shouldn’t he say what he thinks? Even if we vehemently disagree with him, shouldn’t we at least applaud his willingness to be honest?
Instead, the know-it-all inside-the-Beltway gang is howling. What kind of idiot is Mitt Romney, anyway? Doesn’t he know how this political game is played? Any savvy insider knows that of course you can’t say what you really think to the rubes in the hinterlands!
I’m sick to death of the punditry and the silly, screeching gaffe games, which do nothing but distract from our ability to address the serious issues that should be discussed as part of this important elections — serious issues such as, for example, the proper nature and extent of government benefit programs.