(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/GettyImages)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing scrutiny this week after video of him speaking candidly at a campaign fundraiser was released by San Francisco-based Mother Jones magazine. Romney claimed peace in the Middle East was “almost unthinkable,” and described 47 percent of Americans as believing they are “victims” dependent on government assistance. With under two months to go until the presidential election, how will Romney’s remarks affect his campaign?

Guests:
Carla Marinucci, political writer for The San Francisco Chronicle
Debra J. Saunders, nationally syndicated columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle
Clara Jeffery, co-editor of Mother Jones magazine

  • Eids

    Romney was only expressing his true believe which also have been the Republican  party politics for the last 31 years, since Regan took office .They destroyed the Unions, shipped factories to japan,Korea,and China outsourced jobs to other countries, and took us to perpetual wars, all of that played big role in the destruction of American middle class. Clinton and the Democratic party played some role in that as well though G A T, NAFTA, etc

  • Rhet

    Americans generally believe that anyone who doesn’t “make it” in America is either just not trying or is a born loser.
    But somehow when a person fails in Africa, or Guatemala, or Mexico or anywhere else they are totally worthy of sympathy.
    This is the nature of our fake meritocracy here in the USA. If you fail you deserve it, if you win you deserve it.
    Meanwhile when people like Romney cheat like hell to “win” nobody notices how he and his ilk rig the game against the majority, ensuring they will lose.

    • Ayn Marx 666

       This is because America is God’s Special Country, and the religion born of Calvin and Rand (or Spencer) identifies the Elect with the winners, and the losers with the Damned—and sympathy is wasted on the damned, they deserve all they get.

      • Fred

        But there is no God, of course, and the rich in the USA cheat like nowhere else in order to achieve their false victories.

      • Rhet

        Obligatory Soylent Green reference omitted.

  • Gerald Fnord

    I think Romney is in trouble because the words he used language are very much like the coded language conservatives use to refer to dark-skinned minority group members—it’s easy to be a stealth-racialist, as easy as launching your campaign in Philadelphia, Missisippi without mentioning the brave men who died there for freedom..

    In effect, he just called nearly half the people in the nation ‘the N-word’ (as I must put it here, though the phrase loses much of its vigour in the euphemising)..

    Of course, most of the polity already feeling favourable to Romney will assume that he ‘must have meant someone else’, but for any on the fence I think it will be taken as an insult.

    The joke is that Romney probably has the same low opinion of anyone making less than six figures, on the dole or just not doing business as well as he could.

    • Gerlad Fnord

       Duh:  ‘words he used language’–>’words he used’

  • Mark, SF

    Romney say 47% think they are victims. What does he think they are victims of, the government, banks, Wall Street, businesses moving jobs oversea, dishonest mortgage brokers?
    Republicans have been the main proponents of cutting taxes across the board and especially for the 1%. If you cut taxes, surprise, people pay less taxes and more people will pay none. So is he arguing to cut taxes or raise taxes during this campaign?
    Romney has said Obama policies have failed to take us out of this recessions but it is not just Obama policies that have been put in place. We have cut taxes since the beginning of Bush and jobs have shrunk. We extended the tax cuts during the recession to supposedly stimulate jobs and the economy. So tax cuts largely pushed by Republican is part of the “failed polices” that Romney cites.
    Romney criticizes Obama for not doing enough to get Americans back to work and solving the mortgage crisis. Is Romney complaining that the government is not doing enough? to small? If the solution is the private sector what is the private sector waiting for to solve our problems, a government hand out?

  • Gerald Fnord

    veracious (n.):  Having a voracious appetite for the truth.

    To be ‘veracious’, when Mr Romney said that he couldn’t care about the 47%, he was speaking specifically in terms of getting their vote, and not explicitly as persons he’d ignore in governing…however, given that he is a professional politician who cares about most people only to the extent that they might vote for him, I think the distinction is slight—he would in fact ignore them because he can’t use them and doesn’t like them to begin-with.

  • Mike

    I would like Mr. Romney to know that my wife and I wrote a check, our quarterly tax check to the government for $17,000 on Monday this week. We’re family of means, and approximately 30% of what we earn in goes towards taxes. We are part of the unwavering 47% that will vote for Obama. I find it ironic that in fact the people that will be voting for you Mr. Romney are those that don’t pay their fair share in taxes.

  • Chrisco

    This has nothing to do with inartful wording: it is jumbled nonsense, and a completely wrong-headed analysis. This 47% includes students and the elderly on social security and a large percentage of these people are ROMNEY voters. So that’s wrong. Moreover, he ignores Social Security and Medicare taxes – you know, the federal government taking your money. Just because it is not income tax, it is quite misleading and manipulative to omit this tax. It is a fact that a large chunk of this 47% (“the bottom 47%”, you could say) pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than Mitt Romney!

    It seems Mitt Romney was a good and decent man for about 55 years, but he has become the most craven, vicious liar in his quest to get the Republican nomination and become President. He has proven he is not a good man anymore.

  • Sanfran6003

    Lots of manufactured outrage from the left:
    Democratic partisans are deliberately
    misconstruing Romney’s remarks to donors back in May. He used an off the
    cuff statistic to make a point about ‘the dependent society’. It is a
    valid political point. His remarks were not referring to people hurt by
    the recession or to seniors or to veterans, or to people who work for a
    living and his critics know that. His audience knew reference was directed to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and
    those to whom the world owes a living. They are not his voters so
    Romney gave his donors a peak at his inside strategy. He will concede
    the “dependent society” to his opponent and concentrate on winning the
    middle. Outrageous? Hardly

    • Chrisco

      You are the one who is misconstruing his comments by saying he was talking about OWS. You just made that up? He said 47% of people who pay no taxes will vote for Obama, a ridiculous assertion. He said 47% of Americans are, in effect, lazy bums. Another totally ridiculous assertion and he sounds like someone who despises half the country.

      I was shocked at David Brooks, that flaming leftist and his reaction.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/brooks-thurston-howell-romney.html?ref=davidbrooks

      BROOKS:
      “This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits…

      “It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture…

      “Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact…

      “The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation…”

    • Ayn Marx 666

       Romney rightly says that his lack of concern for his notional 47% is solely with regard to trying to get them to vote for him, not as a matter of his future government.  However, as he’s a professional politician, it beggars belief to assert that he will give a jot or tittle for the concerns of people he believes will never vote for him, especially as he considers them morally bankrupt.

      Obama, on the other hand, though he may timidly assail the more selfish of the rich, obviously knows that he needs the acquiescence of at least some of them to govern, and nobody smart ever completely rights off a smart man’s possible support (see Rupert Murdoch’s push for Hilary Clinton in 2008, and for Tony Blair earlier).

    • Colin

      If Romney’s remarks were so inoffensive, then why are other Republican candidates like Scott Brown and Linda McMahon distancing themselves from Romney?

  • Adam

    What I don’t understand is why the Republicans believe that the 47% should pay taxes.  There is a straight up believe that folks know what to do with their own tax dollars, not the government.  Add this to the Grover Norquist pledge, and this turkey just doesn’t jive.

    • Chrisco

      They do play plenty of taxes, but because of the progressive tax code (i.e. writeoffs, personal exemptions, not paying on first $10K of income) they don’t pay INCOME tax. But they play a good chunk in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

  • Chemist150

    Unlike many Obama supporters, I’ve been in the position of living on 16k a year, going to school and working a full time job.  I paid my rent, food, and hospital bills for a dislocated shoulder and stitches another time for a busted face both from skateboarding.  What most don’t know is that county hospitals give the lowest price to the uninsured unlike private hospitals which can already lead to a lower cost of healthcare for the low income if proper steps are taken to shuttle from private hospitals.  Later having improved my position in life, I’m looking at being unemployed do to my industry shrinking at unprecedented rates as companies closing or like Roche fleeing the US on many levels by mid 2013 (ascribe your own reason for that).
     
    Faced with the real possibility of being forced back to the situation I was in before successfully struggling to improve my situation, I can say that I’m not at all offended by what Romney said.  Having hung out with the homeless and meeting people from Hampton, I’ve met too many people at all levels of the economic ladder.  NPR says it’s impartial and supplies good new but like the politicians, instead of focusing on real issues NPR parrots this issue for 2 days solid. 
     
    Obama had his chance to help the economy. Instead of listening to the economist showing that exceeding 90% debt to GDP depresses the economy, on average, by 1%, the month following the debt exceeding 90% debt to GDP around February 2010, the GDP growth dropped by 1% and has remain depressed.  They deny it by saying that our sovereign debt is only 65% (or whatever it was when they make the claim) completely ignoring the total debt which includes what they stole (borrowed) from Social Security for wars.
     
    Newt and Clinton showed us the way by creating a surplus leading the US into the lowest unemployment in decades.  Obama increased spending in an unprecedented degree, flying past the warning point of economists.  Obama needs to stop blaming Bush and understand the problem instead of pandering to the ignorant.

    • Colin

      Yes if only Obama spent more time at $50,000 a-head fundraisers in Boca Racon telling his donors how all of those who don’t pay federal income taxes see themselves as “victims” & less time pandering to the ignorant, this country would be so much better off. . .

      • Chemist150

        I always expect my points to be lost on most.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        What about the many $25k, 50k etc dinners Obama has been to?  Like last night after doing Letterman he went to a big bash given by 
        Jay-Z and Beyonce? Or the massive big bucks fund raiser George Clooney gave Obama?  No one is stopping liberal millionaires and billionaires from writing a BIG check to the federal government if they don’t think they are taxed enough.

  • David2011

    Liberal feeding frenzy. This was red meat for the base and works equally well as red meat for the left. His fundamental point about entitlement programs stands and he has no reason to retract if.

    • Mark, SF

       Defense is an entitlement for the wealthy and corporations in that they don’t pay  their fair share to sustain the defense they want. The more wealth you have the more you have defend. If a large war broke out I guarantee that all those corporations and wealthy people hiding profits overseas will bring it back to the US to hide behind the defense that they haven’t paid enough. That is entitlement also.

  • Cindy, Sacramento

    Michael, Debra needs to be called on her laughable attempt to blame the media for Romney’s atrocious comments regarding Libya and Egypt.   Ms. Saunders, it’s NOT the “media’s” fault that Governor Romney acted like an impetuous teenager.   For God’s sake, give up the old trope.

  • Chrisco

    Obama is appealing to the far left??? Who is the ridiculous analyst who said this? I am hearing a lot of nonsense, it is not up to the usual level of Forum.

  • Finnabennacht

    Have all forgotten that it was the Republicans who reduced the taxes on the 47%?  Is he criticizing his own party?

  • Kunal

    Shouldn’t we be talking more about the hypocrisy of a man who pays 13% tax on is $20M a year income grumbling about people who don’t pay their fair share?

    • Mark, SF

       Correct what should be compared is percentage of taxes paid not the amount of taxes paid. Wealthy people will always pay a larger amount but they are not now paying a larger percentage.

  • Renee

    I was offended by Romney’s remarks, though I am glad we all know how he feels about almost half of America. It is ironic, though, that some of those people not paying taxes are very wealthy and make use of various loopholes to not pay taxes. My husband and I have worked all of our adult lives and paid taxes every year…..we are committed supporters of Barak Obama. Romney does not deserve to be elected president when he only cares about 1/2 of its people. He is clueless about what the majority of Americans go through each day to just get by, and he has no compassion for those people. He continues to hide his tax returns from previous years…. I would not be surprised if he paid NO TAXES or very little… during some of those years and that is why he is hiding them and refusing to show them to the American public.

  • Dave, Petaluma

    Michael, as per the AP yesterday, FOUR THOUSAND millionaires didn’t pay any taxes last year.   

  • David2011

    Seeing that states can’t legally run huge deficits (tricks aside), cutting income taxes forces up consumption taxes and takes more from middle class and poor who spend more of their income.

  • Child of social worker

    It was certainly an inelegant comment because clearly the entire 47% aren’t slackers – but I think the hard working 47% knows who they are and knows this comment isn’t directed at them.  As a child of a social worker, by the time I graduated from college my mother was already on her 3rd generation of institutionalized welfare recipients.  It is a lifestyle whether the left wants to believe it or not.  Despite all of the community action programs that flourished in the 80’s.  I interpret this as frustration over many people not taking responsibility – not just for taxes.  The morbidly obese are sucking up all of the healthcare and taking no responsibility for their own health and well being.  The violent media takes no responsibility for inciting violence, etc.  Everyone seems to believe nothing is their responsibility or fault.  And although he focused broadly on taxes – and wasn’t completely accurate – but I understand the level of frustration.

    • Ayn Marx 666

       What better mechanism for avoiding personal responsibility than shares-holding and limited liability?

    • Colin

      No he said pretty clearly that the 47% who pay no federal income taxes see themselves as “victims”, even if they are paying Social Security payroll taxes and Medicare taxes as well as sales taxes & property taxes.  Its pretty clear that the comment had been directed towards them and not just welfare or AFDC recipients.

  • Chrisco

    LIES LIES LIES. The 47%  have lots of “skin in the game” in the form of Social Security tax and Medicare tax (15.3% – higher than capital gains). Do not separate income tax from payroll taxes. It is all the same, essentially. And if you do this, you are being manipulative or ignorant.

    A very large number of the people who the “analyst” said have no skin in the game pay higher federal taxes than Mitt Romney.

  • Sam, San Francisco

    Re: the “dependent society”: does this include OIL Companies, big industrial agriculture, ROMENY HIMSELF who benefits from huge writeoffs (paying less in taxes than his secretary, etc)?   Why is is just the mythical “deadbeats”?

  • remy

    oh boo-hoo: how can anyone be surprised by his comments?  moreover, how naive can he or his staff be given the fact that for an entire generation, the way to experience life is through the tiny cell phone screen as they video it. 

  • Cindy Ash

    Talking about skin in the game… My husband & I paid taxes for years, but we became truly invested in the political process when we started worrying about the world we would leave to our children. If Romney ever described how he thought he could make the world a better place we would give him a hearing. But I haven’t heard him describe the world as he would leave it.

  • Fred

    Why is Deborah (I repeat the GOP talking points for a living) Sanders on your program? This is the woman who called Obama a wuss for wearing a bicycle helmet, the woman who defended Rush Limbaugh for calling women who use birth control sluts. She has no credibility whatsoever as a commentator of anything political. Is it not possible to find an intelligent conservative commentator?

  • John in Berkeley

    The irony is striking: now Republicans are talking up the benefit of every citizen having some “skin in the game”? This is precisely why Social Security should never be privatized. In my humble opinion, it is an outrage that capital gains and dividend income are taxed at 15%. Bring on the debate about social justice and taxation.

    John in Berkeley

  • Jon Stephens

    I heard a new (to me) catch phrase, dependency culture. Is this new Republican-speak for welfare mother or perhaps socialism?  Is it designed to denigrate the poor and  probably nonwhite in America? Or is it a bad case of tunnel vision on the part of Mr Romney?

    • Sanfran6003

       The dependency culture is that segment of society that looks more toward government help rather than individual initiative as a source for becoming successful.  It is not an all or nothing thing.  Everyone has some of both.

      • Colin

        So are Medicare and Social Security part of the “dependency culture”?

        • Chemist150

          No. Not from Romney’s statement either.  Those are programs that you pay into to benefit from later.  They are taxed separately and not considered with the income tax.

  • Finnabennacht

    We’re 16 trillion dollars in debt

    • Colin

      Most of the $16 trillion in debt had been incurred prior to Obama becoming President.

  • Chrisco

    Not a good show. The women or some of them just keep piping up randomlly. No moderation. You are asking whether it is proven whether cutting taxes produces jobs. As if we don’t know what happened when Clinton raised taxes and Bush cut them.

    I feel like I am in an alternative universe, and not a good one.

  • Chemist150

    The thing about tax cuts is that it’s for a trickle down economy.  A trickle down economy does not exist with a huge debt, huge deficit, or a huge trade imbalance not in our favor.  A trickle down economy literally has not existed since Reagan.  Newt/Clinton put the US on the right path with a balanced budget and the success showed in low unemployment. 
     
    The next big disaster is at 175% TOTAL debt to GDP (total includes social security debt).

    • Colin

      Just out of curiousity, did you vote for George W. Bush for President?

  • Bobfry

    To the conservative guest: 12+ years of tax cuts for the rich haven’t produced jobs. Bush #1 and Clinton’s tax increases were followed by 8 years of prosperity and many millions of jobs. Please explain within your worldview.

  • Mike

    Listening to Ms. Saunders makes my head hurt …  I’ve lost count of the number of times she contradicted her own earlier statments.

  • Agrarian Justice

    Ms Saunders acts as if the rich could be rich without the State’s monopoly on violence’s shoring-up their accumulation of much more property that would be possible in the state of nature, in which state only a few war-lords could so heap, and never so securely as in our current system.

    As such, the wealthy receive an overwhelming share of the benefit of having a State, and it were only fair that they provide an overwhelming share of the revenues needed for its maintenance.

  • theymightbegiants

    All *politicians* are the bane of our great nation because they need campaign financing from and are thereby *owned* by campaign contributers. *Statesmen* are not (that’s also why *statesmen* are very, very few and far between).

    At this point in history, with these candidates, as has been previously stated: the second worst is to vote for Obama…and the *worst* is to vote for anyone else. Anyone not understanding this either has a vested personal interest and no national concern…or else is not paying attention to what’s happened to America, how and why…(or maybe they’re suicidal…?).

  • Anchorjack

    Michael wondered what was served at that fundraiser’s dinner?

    Baloney, sliced thin. 

  • jurban

     We don’t have just a recession, we have a constipated monetary supply. Until more of us comprehend that capital is the key ingredient to the economic cycle (e.g. consumer buys > companies profit > companies hire > employees have extra money > consumer buys > repeat), we will continue to miss the root cause that keeps this economy from recovering.  I wish we would use this simple model of the economy to educate the voters to understand where to inject “change” to improve the economy.  We need to get out of the simplistic debate whether lowering taxes improves job creation and understand WHERE it impacts the cycle.  I believe that business owners are incentivized to improve their own profits by lowering costs necessary to generate revenue.  The priority is not about enabling the opportunity to hire more people.  It’s profit first, then when no other cheaper options are available (e.g. buy software), then hire.  If govt could increase the incentives to positively impact some portion of that 47%, the economy has a better chance of growing.

  • Twice now the Chronicle woman has said that people who don’t pay income tax “don’t have a stake,” as if income tax is the only tax. Thirty-something percent of those who don’t pay income tax pay payroll taxes. Sales tax is the tax that hurts the poor the most, but Americans never consider it because we don’t pay it on April 14th.

    Another correction, this is the third time on this show that someone has disputed the fact that half the budget goes to the military. Maybe Michael Krasny doesn’t want to believe something that ludicrous, but it’s true. The money devoted to national defense is 754 billion, which is 60% of the federal budget. See for yourself: http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/books/apub/deathtaxes/D_T_A_Plus_1_LARGE.jpg

  • P Fernald

    I find most of the guests comments to be tired and disingenuous isn’t there anything new that comes to mind other than tax cuts create jobs and Romney is just clumsy in his communications. The caller who likened democracy being consumed by the plutocrats at these high dollar meetings was spot on.

  • Tim

    What may be most troubling about Romney’s comment is that it didn’t seem like HE believed it. It was more shameless pandering with all the markings of someone spouting other peoples’ ideas — like a college kid just trying to get an A, or a salesman just trying to close a deal (which he is). David Brooks said it best: Romney’s a “decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.” (Read it here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/brooks-thurston-howell-romney.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB ).

    The guy has no core, no spine, so he’s careless and reckless — dangerously so. As Brooks asks in closing, “when will the incompetence stop?” It looks less and less likely that would be ever — even if we’re stupid enough to buy what he’s selling and send him to the White House.

  • Dreutertwi

    I thought NPR radio’s mission statement was to present both sides of an argument. Clearly with the guests on today’s Forum there was no room for an alternative viewpoint.  I guess this is NPR’s version of Fox Radio.

    • Sleddog_sis

      What?  Were you listening?  Debra Saunders certainly was the other side of the Mother Jones representative.  I think KQED, and NPR generally, does an excellent job of asking guests of all viewpoints to be a part.  (And sometimes some do not accept). 

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    My concern is the whole entitlement mentality we have here in the states. 

    If you have ten family members with two family members who need help from the family you can usually afford to help. But what happens when out of the ten family members four are working and paying in to support the six other family members?  There comes a time when you have fewer people earning the money that is supporting the family and something has to give.Same holds true for our country, where you have a massive number of boomers coming into Social Security and Medicare, whose costs are rising. Add in the millions getting WIC,AFDC, Head Start, SSI for drunks/druggies and others who have NEVER worked and I think Mitt Romney is correct in many ways about the 47% who have never worked and would just as soon not work, when they can get a hand out paid by those who do value hard work and not being entitlement minded. 

    • Fred

      Would you care to offer a verifiable reference for your assertions? We will have money issues in the future no doubt, mainly due to social security, medicare and defense spending. But bluster without support or solutions is not very useful…

    • Historian

      Your info is out of date. There is no AFDC any more. It’s called TANF and you are REQUIRED to work while being on it. I know I was on it for 2 years. And you can only get TANF for 5 years total lifetime. Your claim that they have “never” worked is wrong by definition. And plenty of people on food stampes, WIC, & Head Start work. Man are little they can’t survive without these subsidies.

  • James Murgolo

    After these guests NPR, you no longer need to worry about accusations of liberal bias.  Feel sorry for Romney, how hard it is to be a politician?  He’s appealing to his base and this is not really news?  We should look at Obama’s response to the video instead?  Attempting to violate free speech?  REALLY?

    Lets pretend Obama was taped saying, “I really don’t care about people who live comfortably with decent salaries.  I really care about those that don’t have much and we should devote more of our tax dollars to them.  I believe we should increase entitlements.  I am not going to get the vote from the monied so I don’t care about them.”  Holy crap could you imagine the response.  The mainstream media would cry bloody murder.  

    Romney, however, can get up and essentially say I only represent the monied and we become apologists.  Shame on you NPR.  Fair reporting does not mean entertaining every whack job with an opinion. 

    And did this 47% of people who used to be 30%, 20%, etc. suddenly wake up one day and say, “hey, I think I am going to be lazy and live off the dole.”  Get with the program Republicans, lack of wealth does not mean lack of work ethic, dreams, ideals.  I am sickened that anyone would try to play this down.  

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