Howie Carr Tries to Defend Mitt Romney

The great thing about when a politician says something indefensible is that, inevitably, people will rise up to defend them. Such is the case with Mitt Romney right now: there’s really no sugarcoating when a presidential candidate calls half the country “victims” who believe that they’re entitled to government handouts and, for good measure, adds, “It’s not my job to worry about those people.”

So I was tickled this morning when I glanced down at the Herald front page and saw that Howie Carr wrote on the subject. Perfect. I’d been wanting to read something particularly dumb about this controversy. Howie begins:

Mitt Romney’s only mistake was lumping together all of the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes.

A lot of them are elderly, and many of them are voting for Mitt. And there are some people who work, but just don’t make a lot of money, or who would be working if they weren’t legitimately disabled.

Great points. But surely you’ve seen this chart from the Tax Policy Center by now:



Here’s the accounting: elderly make up 10 percent of the pie while another 28 percent are working and pay payroll tax, but not income tax, because they qualify for enough deductions to bring their taxable income down to zero. That leaves 6.9 percent of Americans who make less than $20,000 a year and pay neither income nor payroll taxes. Certainly, within this group there are disabled people and working poor, but as best I can figure, these are the folks that Howie is upset about (Poor people! Can you believe them?). So to re-phrase his opening line, Mitt Romney’s only mistake was being off by 40 percentage points.

The rest of what Howie has to say is pretty stupid, but this part caught my eye:

There’s a classic book that’s taught, or used to be taught [ed’s note: Kids these days!], in college political science classes. “Democracy in America” — it was written more than 150 years ago by a Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville. He had the same take as Mitt on what has become the American welfare state:

“A democracy … can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.”

In Howie’s world, it seems that if you’re a poor person on welfare and support Obama, you’re a leech. But what about all those rich folks supporting Romney and his tax cuts for the wealthy, which, as best I can tell, would count as benefits from the public treasury? It seems reasonable that tax cuts for top-earners at a time of historic national debt could be interpreted as “loose fiscal policy.” Not surprisingly, Howie doesn’t have much to say about this.