Romney vs. Romney on the Safety Net
Romney vs. Romney on the Safety Net

Governor Mitt Romney held a hastily organized press conference Monday night to respond to off the cuff comments he made at a May fundraiser in which he dismissed nearly half of Americans as being dependent on government and lacking personal responsibility. The comments stand in contrast to those he made last week to faith leaders who work with the poor.

Romney's comments were caught on a videoreleased by Mother Jones magazine. The magazine reports that Romney made his remarks at a May 17 fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of a private equity manager. Responding to a question on his political campaign, Romney said he was writing off nearly half of the electorate.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, 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."

Romney said that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. This figure excludes state income taxes, social security and medicare payroll taxes, and sales taxes. It also includes most retirees whose income comes from social security and receive Medicare coverage.

"My job is not to worry about those people," Romney said. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

New York Times columnist David Brooks was one of many who believe that entitlement programs need reform but who were also shocked by Romney's comments.

"Romney's comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact,"Brooks wrote. "The Republican Party, ...

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Romney vs. Romney on the Safety Net
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