The Washington Post

Mitt Romney’s moocher theory

Romney doesn’t stay at the Motel 6 (Charles Dharapak/AP)

So, back in DC, everyone’s talking about Mitt Romney’s moocher theory, which is that 47 percent of the public doesn’t pay income taxes and lives off the dole and mooches up a storm and takes and takes and takes and buys booze with food stamps and whatnot, and that collectively these pathetic lowlifes go under the label of “Democrats.” Obama, he says, starts with a base of 47 percent of the electorate who are suckerfish on the body on the USA. Here are excerpts of the Romney remarks (taped while talking to rich donors back in May), and here is some excellent analysis from The Fix and Ezra’s blog and The Fact Checker’s.

This is so factually challenged that it’s hard to know where to begin. One place might be the actual 2008 vote: Seniors went for McCain. They are among Romney’s 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes.

Romney’s theory of the taker class, as Ezra puts it, is in keeping with the theory that government dominates our lives, that federal policy becomes a brainworm that directs us left or right or straight, that we are essentially controlled by greed and self-interest and that the overwhelming driver of the process is the government budget and tax policy. The Republican Party, as we’ve noted in the past, is the party that really believes in government.

When I’m out talking to voters, I see something different. I see people who make up their minds in all kinds of ways.

I meet voters who seem to vote against their own interests sometimes. Or they latch onto one issue, or personality trait. They vote, as Romney noted in his candid comments, on emotional grounds. Often it’s a question of simply: Do I like and trust this person? Romney said that, too. He knows he needs to be liked.

Which is why what he said to the rich donors is not going to be helpful.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."


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