In the episode, Gabbo speaks his true feelings about the children during a commercial break, unaware that Bart has secretly switched the camera on so that everything he says goes live on the air. “All the kids in Springfield are S.O.B.’s,” Gabbo complains, as puppeteer Arthur Crandall asks him to stop insulting his audience.
Yesterday, Mother Jones publicized a number of surreptitiously-shot videos at a fundraiser dinner held in May where Mitt Romney had his Gabbo moment, in which he called about half the country moochers and grifters:
The Romney in these videos is so different from the one we normally see at press conferences and town halls. He’s not awkward, stilted or robotic like the one whom we often see on TV or the one we hear about when he’s talking to people he doesn’t like. This one’s relaxed, comfortable, happy to be holding court and shooting from the hip. He’s talking to people whom he sees as equals, or at least doing better than what he perceives as “middle income”, which he recently defined in an interview on Good Morning America as being “$200,000 to $250,000 and less”:
While you could debate that “middle income” is a meaningless term, the upper bound of $250,000 that Romney uses as a definition of “middle income” is 5 times the real median income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it was $50,054 in 2011, which coincidentally is only slightly more than the $50,000 that attendees of the fundraiser dinner paid to attend. Even if you’re making a little less than the lower figure Romney cites — a paltry $200,000 — you’re doing well. Page 38 of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011 report says that if your household income is $186,000, you’re in the top 5%.
Where are those layabouts 47% percent who don’t pay income taxes? This map from an article in the Atlantic shows that they’re mostly in red states — that is, states where the voters tend to vote Republican (and often against their own best interests):
Update: Here’s how that 47% breaks down, as pointed out by NPR, who in turn point to this July 2011 report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center:
“Low income” is defined as below $26,400 for a family of four. In contrast, Romney’s in a family of nearly twice that size (him, his wife Ann, and five kids) but his 2010 income was three orders of magnitude larger ($21 million), most of it from his money working for him (dividends, capital gains and interest).
Update: It should also be noted that two-thirds of that 47% do pay payroll tax, which is 15.3%. That’s a bigger proportion than Romney’s income tax rate, which is a stunningly low 13%. How do I get in on that action?
What Romney’s saying is that if you’re not well off, it’s because you’re a slacker. It’s a standard conservative trope. Yes, there are people who don’t make money because they can’t get off their asses to do an honest day’s work. But there are also people who make a fair bit of money who also do very little work. I met them when I went to Crazy Go Nuts University (one of the “Canadian Ivies”) and in the working world, most notably at Toronto’s Worst-Run Startup, which was run by a hyperkinetic yet lazy trust fund kid who was more interested taking the team rock climbing than actually making software. If you work in an office with more than a few dozen people, you probably have someone who’s raking in the dough but not doing much. The converse of what he’s saying is that if you’re well off enough that you can spend the equivalent of the U.S. 2011 median income to bask in Romney’s aura for a couple of hours, you must be awesome, and as one Romney crony puts it, he was just playing to the audience.
The hastily-assembled press conference put together by the Romney campaign is pretty weak sauce:
In a post in Esquire’s Politics Blog, aptly titled The Worst Thing Romney Has Said About Americans Yet, Charles P. Pierce makes these astute observations about Romney (with added emphasis by Yours Truly):
To this moment, I guarantee you, Romney is probably astonished at what all the fuss is about. This is simply the way the world is. There is himself, Willard Romney, and his perfect family, and his perfect life, and there is The Help, and The Help gets drunk on the job, and prunes the shrubbery badly, and pockets the silverware, and makes off with the odd can of salmon out of the pantry. He is who he is today because his breeding and his genes and his god have arranged him to be through a serious of immutable laws against which only a fool or The Help would presume to argue. He is what his golden life has made him to be, and his golden life was only the bare minimum of that to which god and nature entitled him. To ask him to doubt any of this is to ask him to doubt gravity or the movement of the tides.
We are coming rapidly toward a devastating confluence of two colliding panics. The Romney campaign is panicking about itself, and the Republicans are panicking about the Romney campaign. He cannot come back from this, honestly. This is who he is. This is what he believes the world to be. Half the electorate already thinks he’s a fake, which means he’s not a very good one. There’s really only one campaign left to him now.