By Sarah Jost
Mitt Romney’s father, a politician and auto executive, paid for him to attend private schools, paid his college tuition, gave him a stock portfolio that he lived on while attending graduate school, and helped him buy his first house. It is no wonder, then, that Mitt Romney cannot understand what it might be like to house, feed, and educate a family of four on less than $26,400 a year, last year’s threshold for a family to be considered tax exempt. Families who fit that description account for 23% of Romney now infamous 47% of people who ‘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.’
Is Romney saying that there are people in the United States who are not entitled to be healthy or have food or a home? That there are people who deserve to die of treatable illnesses or injuries because they can’t afford medical care? That there are people who deserve to starve? Who deserve to be homeless?
Speaking from such a sheltered pillar of privilege, it is no wonder that Romney refuses to acknowledge the systems of oppression that exist in American society and have contributed to many families hardships. It is difficult, however, to reconcile his blatant disregard for those in need with his claim that his faith ‘continue[s]‘ to be important in [his] life.’
The United States purports to be a Christian nation, yet its citizens seem hell bent on turning their backs on the poor. Are people really so selfish that they would rather own six homes (Mitt Romney has one home in La Jolla, California, two in Boston, a ski lodge in Utah, and two lakeside homes in New Hampshire) than help those less fortunate?
Nearly 32% of the 47% of Americans that Romney denigrated have an annual household income of less than $10,000. That’s just over $200 a week to pay for food, rent, transportation, and health care. And it’s not because they’re lazy or just waiting for their welfare checks. Two thirds of the 47% were working last year, and for those keeping score, they paid approximately 15.3% of their income in payroll taxes, more than Romney’s 13.9% tax rate. The other third are elderly. According to the Tax Policy Center, ‘those who don’t pay income tax do pay other taxes — federal payroll and excise taxes as well as state and local income, sales, and property taxes.’
Romney’s comments belie an inherent and shocking lack of compassion. In a CNN interview, Romney said the following about his wife Ann’s battle with multiple sclerosis, ‘She got good help from wonderful physicians and over the course of all the care she got she was able to stop the disease in its tracks. It’s relapsing and remitting in her case. It’s stopped and she’s been pretty solid ever since.’ Can he really not imagine what it would be like for a family who could not afford such ‘wonderful physicians’ and ‘all the care’ to treat such an illness? Luckily, it’s ‘not his job’ to worry about those people. It’s their fault for not taking personal responsibility for their lives. They deserve it.
All of this begs a very serious question: If Mitt Romney doesn’t care about improving the quality of life for American citizens, why is he running for president? Nearly every presidential candidate in recent memory has at least seemed to genuinely care about the future of the United States and its people. They all held steadfast beliefs that they were willing to fight for in office. Whether you agreed with them or not, these were principled people. What does Mitt Romney care about? What does he believe in? What motivates him? Unfortunately, the answer doesn’t seem to be people. His motivations for becoming president, consistent with his career as a business man, seem to be power, money, and status. Mitt Romney’s political motivations are completely selfish, seeking only to advance his own success. Where does that leave the American people?