Home 2019 Elections OFA Response to Mitt Romney’s Remarks in Springfield, VA

OFA Response to Mitt Romney’s Remarks in Springfield, VA


From the Obama campaign


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“Mitt Romney would like Virginians to forget how he disdainfully wrote off half of all Americans, including veterans and active duty members, at a fundraiser with high-dollar donors. But his policies are even worse than those closed door comments. His plan could result in deep cuts to the VA and he has suggested privatizing veterans’ health care. And because of his refusal to lead his party and demand that Congressional Republicans, including his running mate, drop their opposition to asking for a penny more from millionaires and billionaires, he’s stood in the way of preventing devastating automatic defense cuts. These policies would be disastrous for America’s military, military families, and veterans and we can’t afford them.”—Lis Smith, campaign spokeswoman




Romney: “There Are 47% Of The People Who Will Vote For The President No Matter What… Who Are Dependent Upon Government, Who Believe That– That They Are Victims, Who Believe That Government Has A Responsibility To Care For Them… These Are People Who Pay No Income Tax.  47% Of Americans Pay No Income Taxes…  So My Job Is Not To Worry About Those People.  I'll Never Convince Them That They Should Take Personal Responsibility And Care For For Their Lives.” MALE VOICE:  “For the past three years, all everybody's been told is, ‘Don't worry. We'll take care of it.’  How are we gonna do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you've gotta take care of yourself?”ROMNEY:  “Well, there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.  All right?  There are 47% who are with him.  Who are dependent upon government, who believe that– that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.  But that's– it's an entitlement.  And the government should give it to them.  And they will vote for this president no matter what. And– and– I mean the president starts off with 48%, 49%, 40– or he– he starts off with a huge number.  These are people who pay no income tax.  47% of Americans pay no income taxes.  So our message of low taxes doesn't connect.  And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.  I mean that's what they sell every– every four years. And– and so my job is not to worry about those people.  I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for for their lives.”   [Romney Fundraiser, Boca Raton, FL, 5/17/12]


Washington Post Headline: “Romney Stands By His Remarks In Leaked Video” [Washington Post, 9/17/12]


CNN: “Mitt Romney Said In An Interview Tuesday That Remarks He Made At A Fund-Raiser In May Casting Supporters Of President Barack Obama As Dependent On Government Were An Honest Reflection Of His Campaign’s Message.” [CNN, 9/18/12]




Bill Kristol: A Good Chunk Of The 47 Percent Who Don’t Pay Income Taxes Include Seniors, Lower-Income Americans And Men And Women Serving In Our Military. “It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors (who might well ‘believe they are entitled to heath care,’ a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they're not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.” [William Kristol, Weekly Standard, 9/18/12]


Romney’s Suggestion That 47 Percent Of Americans Refuse To Take Personal Responsibility “Ignores The Fact That Most Of These Households Pay Payroll Taxes For Social Security And Medicare And Some Are Service Members In Combat Zones.” “Mitt Romney painted an inaccurate portrait of the ‘47 percent of Americans [who] pay no income tax’ when he spoke — and was secretly videotaped — at a May fund-raiser depicting almost half the country as Obama-loving ‘victims’ who feel entitled to government handouts. Romney’s statistic accurately approximates the percentage of US households that do not pay federal income taxes. But he went on to suggest that this 47 percent relies on government help and refuses to ‘take personal responsibility’ — an assertion that ignores the fact that most of these households pay payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and some are service members in combat zones.  Almost every American adult pays some combination of excise, property, sales, and state or local income taxes.” [Boston Globe, 9/19/12]


Romney’s Suggestion That Those Who Pay No Income Taxes And Take Services From The Government Are Just “Victims,” Included Combat Troops And Veterans Who Receive Tax-Free Government Benefits. “Luana Schneider is not a freeloader. Bobby Henline isn't dependent on government either, even though he received free medical care after he was catastrophically burned in a bomb blast in Iraq and — like other severely wounded combat veterans — received a tax-free $100,000 insurance payout from Uncle Sam. Few Americans receive as much from government as the combat wounded. Their military medical care, from treatment on the dusty battlefield to the exquisitely meticulous surgery and rehabilitation care, is given on a damn-the-cost basis. The Department of Veterans Affairs insurance program pays out a maximum of $100,000 for severe wounds, in addition to disability payments and other assistance. Such largesse seems to be precisely the thing that bleeds away Americans' personal responsibility and ‘fosters government dependency,’ according to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. But that view is out of whack with the reality of many of the severely wounded, and other veterans and their families. Although Romney later asserted that he was not referring to veterans or the military, it seems wildly inaccurate to suggest, as he did in a video recorded at a fundraiser in May, that those who take from the government believe they are ‘victims’ and ‘take no personal responsibility for their lives’ because they pay no income taxes.” [Huffington Post, 9/19/12]


·         “The 68,000 U.S. Troops Serving In Afghanistan Today Pay No Taxes On Their Monthly Pay (For Officers, Combat-Zone Pay Is Tax-Exempt Up To $7,834 Per Month)” And “Troops At War Also Pay No Taxes On The Family Separation Pay ($250 A Month) And Imminent Danger Pay ($225 A Month) They Receive While In The War Zone.” [Huffington Post, 9/19/12]


·         2012: “Veterans Will Get $76.3 Billion In Entitlement Payments, Including Disability Compensation And GI Bill Education Assistance — All Tax-Free.” “The VA doesn't disagree that veterans have earned their benefits, even if they don't pay taxes. This year veterans will get $76.3 billion in entitlement payments, including disability compensation and GI bill education assistance — all tax-free. More than 8.5 million veterans currently get health care through the VA — an untaxed benefit — and 3.5 million vets are receiving untaxed disability payments, according to VA budget documents. The VA is paying to house homeless veterans at a cost of $1.3 billion. Veterans are currently receiving mental health benefits worth $6.2 billion.” [Huffington Post, 9/19/12]


·         The GI Bill Has Allowed 700,000 Veterans To Get Tax-Free Grants To Help Pay For Tuition And Books To Go Back To School. “‘I don't think anyone would consider that wasteful spending or that anyone is leeching off the system,’ said Paul Rieckhoff, who served in Iraq as an infantry platoon leader before founding the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonpartisan organization to support veterans. Thanks to the GI bill, for instance, over 700,000 troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have gotten tax-free grants to help pay for tuition and books and go back to school, and thousands are entering college this month, he said. Far from creating a culture of relying on government hand-outs, ‘It's a really good return for the American taxpayers,’ he said.” [Huffington Post, 9/19/12]


The Ryan Budget Makes Steep Cuts To Veterans While Failing To Balance The Budget Before 2040. “Ryan’s controversial plan makes steep cuts even to popular spending categories, such as veterans benefits and transportation. Opponents have said it would disproportionately harm the elderly, the poor and the middle class and would turn Medicare into a voucher system. Even with the tough medicine, the Ryan plan doesn’t balance the budget until 2040.” [Mankato Free Press, 8/11/12]


The Ryan Budget Would Cut Domestic Discretionary Spending By 19 Percent, And “Since The House Has Refused To Specify What Would Be Cut, We Consider The Impacts If The Cuts Are Distributed Equally Across The Budget.” “Yesterday, House Republicans released their budget resolution for FY 2013… On top of the roughly $1 trillion in cuts in the Budget Control Act, it would be difficult to overstate the radicalism of the domestic cuts proposed by the House budget resolution.  In 2013, it would cut annual non-defense funding by 5 percent.  By 2014, the resolution would cut this funding by 19 percent in purely nominal terms. Over a decade, the resolution would cut over $1 trillion in non-defense spending on top of the reductions the President has already signed into law.  The cuts in non-defense discretionary funding are nearly three times as deep as the cuts under the so-called sequester — cuts that we and most objective analysts have always regarded as an unwise and unacceptable. What would it all mean? The Budget doesn’t say.  In fact, the Budget resolution includes a magic asterisk — or, in more technical parlance, an ‘allowance’— for $897 billion in unspecified cuts. But what could the resolution mean?  Since the House has refused to specify what would be cut, we consider the impacts if the cuts are distributed equally across the Budget. The result would be that.” [Jeff Zients, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, WH.gov, 3/21/12]


2012: The Enacted Veteran’s Affairs Budget Was $58.5 Billion. [Fiscal year 2013 Budget, Office of Management & Budget, p. 240]




Romney Suggested Privatizing Veteran’s Benefits And Giving Veterans Vouchers For Health Care. “Mitt Romney suggested on Friday that he was open to partially privatizing the health care veterans receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by creating a voucher system that would allow private sector competition. ‘If you’re the government, they know there’s nowhere else you guys can go, you’re stuck,’ Romney told a group of veterans at Mutt’s BBQ restaurant in South Carolina. ‘Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce private sector competition, somebody else who could come in and say each soldier has x thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose where they want to go in the government system or the private system with the money that follows them. Like what happens with schools in Florida where people have a voucher that goes with him,’ Romney said.” [ABC News, 11/11/11; Romney Veterans Roundtable In Maudlin, SC, 11/11/11]


·         Romney’s Suggestion Of Using A Voucher System For Veterans’ Health Care “Echoed” Portions Of His Medicare Plan. “He also briefly floated the idea of using a voucher system to help veterans get reliable and quality health care, an option that echoed portions of a Medicare plan he recently rolled out at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s annual summit.” [New York Times, 11/11/11]


·         Krugman: Romney’s “Voucherization” Of The VA Would Leave Veterans Who Don’t Make Enough Money To Cover Health Care Costs On Top Of What The Voucher Covers Unable “To Receive Essential Care.” “Mitt Romney wants to privatize the VA. This is awesome on multiple levels. First, you know what voucherization would mean in practice: the vouchers would be inadequate, and become more so over time, so that veterans who don’t make enough money to top them up would fail to receive essential care. Patriotism!” [Krugman, New York Times, 11/12/11]


·         Veterans Of Foreign Wars “Doesn’t Support Privatization Of Veterans Health Care.” “In South Carolina today, Mitt Romney suggesting opening up public veterans benefits to private competition by instituting a voucher system for soldiers to find their own coverage. Asked about the idea, Veterans Of Foreign Wars spokesman Jerry Newberry quickly shot it down as a non-starter for his group. ‘The VFW doesn’t support privatization of veterans health care,’ he told TPM. ‘This is an issue that seems to come around every election cycle.’” [Talking Points Memo,11/11/11]




Wall Street Journal: “Romney Said In A Recent Interview With Time Magazine That He Hopes The Lame-Duck Congress Doesn't Enact Long-Term Legislation On The Looming Fiscal Issues.”  “Mr. Romney said in a recent interview with Time magazine that he hopes the lame-duck Congress doesn't enact long-term legislation on the looming fiscal issues if he is elected, but instead gives him time to make his own proposals.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/13/12]

Romney Said That, If Elected, He Would Not Want A Lame-Duck Congress Taking Action Before He Was Sworn In To Address Looming Defense Cuts. Halperin: “So, if you’re elected, you’ll be in office in eight months. There’s the so-called fiscal cliff coming. Has a lot of things that I’m pretty sure you’re opposed to: major defense cuts, you’d actually like to see an increase in defense spending. The kind of sharp drop in spending, in other areas and automatic cuts, as well as tax increases in a lot of ways that would be a real drag on the economy. Everybody agrees that — CBO said yesterday would send the country into recession. So, again, in the real world people understand what President Romney would be like. Election comes in November, you win. Would you like to see the incumbent President and Congress deal with these issues during the lame-duck session?” Romney: “Of course not.” Halperin: “You’d like them to defer to you?” Romney: “Absolutely. I would like to be able to deal with these issues on a structural basis, on a permanent basis as opposed to a stopgap effort that would require unraveling and reevaluation. My hope is to be able to come into office with people on both sides of the aisle who are cognizant of the critical nature of what America faces fiscally, what the people of America are facing employment wise, the failure in our economy that’s hurting so many people and that we’ll see Republicans and Democrats say, OK, what kind of tax proposals will encourage economic growth? What kind of regulatory reform will encourage economic growth? Energy polices, educations policies and the like. I think we can do that, but my preference would be to have the opportunity to do that after the election as opposed to have the President in a lame-duck session try and create a solution that may not be in keeping with the new administration.” [Mark Halperin interview with Mitt Romney, Time, 5/23/12]




Romney: “I Will Not Endorse Any Plan That Raises Revenues, Raises Taxes.” [Associated Press, 11/19/11]


Romney Raised His Hand When Fox New Asked Whether He Would Reject A Budget Deal That $10 Spending Cuts For Every $1 In Tax Increases. “A month ago, Mitt Romney, like every other GOP presidential hopeful, raised his hand when Fox News asked whether he would reject a budget deal that was $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.” [Washington Post, 9/7/11]


·         Romney Backed Congressional Republicans Refusing To Increase Government Revenue As Part Of A Deal To Raise The Debt Ceiling And Avoid Default. “Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney backs the congressional Republicans refusing to increase government revenue as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default. Romney’s position on ‘revenue raisers’ to bring more money into the government as a way to help balance the budget ‘would be the same as those in the Congress who hold the view that we cannot have tax increases as part of the debt ceiling,’ a Romney aide told POLITICO.” [Politico, 7/15/11]




Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: Romney’s New Tax Cuts Would Cost $4.9 Trillion Over A Decade, On Top Of The Cost Of Extending The Bush Tax Cuts. “The Tax Policy Center estimates that the Romney tax plan would lose about $480 billion in tax revenue in calendar year 2015, beyond the revenues losses inherent in maintaining current policy (such as continuing all of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts). Over the 2014-2022 period, that implies a total reduction in revenues of about $4.9 trillion, relative to current tax policy.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/21/12]


Wall Street Journal: “A New Study Released Wednesday Suggests That Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan Would Benefit The Rich And Hurt The Poor And Middle Class, No Matter How Current Blanks In The Plan Are Filled In.”” [Wall Street Journal, 8/1/12]


Los Angeles Times: “Romney Says He Wants To Balance The Budget Within Four Years, But He Has Not Spelled Out A Plan To Do So.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/27/12]


·         Los Angeles Times: Romney Has Only Spoken In Specifics About Plans That “Would Make The Deficit Bigger, Not Smaller, And Add To The Debt, Not Subtract From It.” “Romney says he wants to balance the budget within four years, but he has not spelled out a plan to do so. Instead, most of the plans he has talked about specifically – significant new tax cuts, increased defense spending, no changes in Medicare or Social Security until people now 55 reach retirement age, postponing the automatic spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1 – would make the deficit bigger, not smaller,  and add to the debt, not subtract from it.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/27/12]




If Romney’s Tax Plan Was Paid For, Families With Kids Who Make Less Than $200,000 Would See An Average Tax Increase Of $2,041. [Tax Policy Center, On The Distributional Effects Of Base-Broadening Income Tax Reform, p. 18, 8/1/12]


If Romney’s Tax Plan Was Paid For, The Top 0.1% Would See An Average Tax Cut Of $246,652. [Tax Policy Center, On The Distributional Effects Of Base-Broadening Income Tax Reform, p. 19, 8/1/12] 


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