Wednesday, September 19, 2012
While I was doing my other tasks, I was listening to the coverage on NPR of the Great Gaffe of this Campaign, Mitt Romney's statement in Boca Raton last May that forty seven percent of the voters are a lock for Obama because they pay no income tax and are dependent on government for their support which they believe they are entitled to.
I think that's a fair paraphrase of what he said to his $50,000 a plate audience (reminding me of Bush's comment about his base, "the haves and the have mores." At least he was honest about it.)
The coverage of the brou-ha-hah was striking for the fact that in every report -- and there were many -- the reporters and bureau chiefs and commentators were making excuses for Romney and explaining "what he really meant to say." Which came out the same as what he said only polished up a little bit. Not only that, but over and over and over again, the "47%" meme was reinforced, as if it were propaganda.
As I was listening to the coverage, I wondered if perhaps this was the first time most people had ever heard of the fact that "47%" of Americans don't pay income tax and are dependent on government. Those of us who pay attention to political matters have been hearing it from the Rightists for a long time, as they constantly whine about the poors, the olds, the halts, and the lames who "don't pay taxes."
But does everybody hear it? I don't think so. Now that it's "out there" -- thanks to David Corn and Mother Jones -- everybody, potentially, has heard it, and if the other news outfits have been covering it like NPR has been covering it, making excuses for Romney, and reinforcing the meme, then the propaganda no doubt will be effective.
Which, given some of the stories I've heard about both David Corn and Mother Jones, may be the intent.
It's been used by the Rightists to claim that there are all these freeloaders who simply get money for nothing (and their chicks for free? ;-) from the Government as "entitlements." It's Alan Simpson's complaint about Social Security ("a milk cow with 300 million tits") and Reagan's canard about Welfare Queens cheerfully conflated with the suggestion that only Those People (you know the ones) vote Democrat, and they're all dependent because they "don't pay taxes."
By spreading it far and wide this way -- and explaining it in great and almost obsessive detail -- it becomes CW which is then used to -- ta da -- broaden the base and lower the rates of taxation. Which is code for shifting the tax burden from them that's got to them that's not. Which has been the plan all along.
Basically, the rich who have the most money, goods, and chattel sincerely believe that they should not be subjected to the burden of taxation because they see it as punishment; they certainly don't believe that they should be forced to carry so much of the income tax burden in this country. Never mind that the income tax was established specifically to tax the incomes of the highest earners and to exempt the incomes of the lowest earners. They claim it's unfair and immoral to tax the incomes of "successful" people so as to give money (their money) to the "failures."
Charity should suffice. If it doesn't, oh well, too bad.
It is, after all, the way things were organized back in those Glory Days of Yore when there were no curbs on corporate rapine and the abuses of the moneyed elite.
The reasons why so many Americans don't pay income taxes has little to do with dependence but the coverage has successfully conflated not paying income taxes with dependence to the point that I wouldn't doubt those who do "pay taxes" are outraged.
There was another factor in the coverage that was troubling to say the least. Time after time, as one or another NPR bright light bustled to the microphone to explain what Mitt really meant, the topics of the debt and entitlements were raised, and once again the two were conflated --as in "the entitlements are driving the debt, yadda yadda" -- with hardly a mention about the numerous wars of imperial aggression and all their collateral costs and damage, and none at all about all the extortion and tribute being paid to the Highest of the Mighty financiers.
None of this ever gets mentioned in any comprehensive manner in the mainstream media. This issue is always presented as one of dependent people who "don't pay taxes" and "entitlements."
There has been very little effective counter.
As Romney doubled down on his comments, clearly his handlers have decided that he's presenting the issue correctly for the purposes of propaganda, and as his statements and those of other Rightists are spread far and wide and repeated over and over again, he seems to be getting plenty of mileage out of it.