According to The New York Times, "Mitt Romney faced an escalating torrent of criticism Tuesday from Democrats and Republicans for characterizing 47 percent of the country's population as government-dependent "victims" . . . during a fundraiser in May." This is a transcript of the statement by Republican Party Presidential candidate Mitt Romney where he described 47% of the American people as dependent on government. An excerpt from the video is available from CNN.
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 they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it...These are people who pay no income tax, 47% of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll (President Obama) be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years. 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 their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
Romney's statement is supported by the U.S. Census Bureau that reports approximately half of U.S. households receive a government-sponsored entitlement in the form of disability, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance. Romney claimed these people "pay no income tax." Actually, if you remove senior citizen households from the equation, only about eight percent of American families pay no income or payroll taxes, and these families still pay property taxes, sales taxes, sin taxes, and other state and local taxes and fees.
Although I believe, unlike Mr. Romney, that the federal government has an obligation to ensure that all Americans have food, some of my regular readers may be surprised that I also think too many "Americans" have become dependent on federal largess. Where I disagree with Mr. Romney is over who is overly dependent and who should be cut off.
Major corporations have been feeding off the federal trough for a long time and they need to learn how to fend for themselves. During the Great Recession banks, insurance companies, and manufacturers received billions of dollars in federal handouts. I would cut them all. They include AIG Insurance which received $68.5 billion; auto companies General Motors ($50.7 billion) and Chrysler ($10.7 billion); Bank of America and Citigroup which received $45 billion each; and JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo which received $25 billion each.
Another big recipient of federal money that should be cut to avoid a culture of dependency are military contractors. According to the Defense Department, since 2001 contracts for services have increased by 137%. In 2011, Lockheed Martin was number 1 with total revenue from the federal government of $40 billion. The company makes 82% of its sales to the U.S. Government including 61% to the Department of Defense. Boeing was second with federal contracts worth $21 billion and General Dynamics ranked third with almost $20 billion.
While he is identifying people to cut off of the federal dole, Mr. Romney should consider ending federal subsidies to agri-businesses so they can avoid the culture of dependency. In 2007, of the approximately 2 million farms in the United States, over 800,000 or 38% received federal subsidies. They included more than half of the farms in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Romney can also cut annual government foreign aid to countries that have grown dependent on U.S. federal dollars. The five biggest recipients are Afghanistan with over $11 billion, Pakistan, $2.8 billion, Israel, $2.8 billion, Iraq, $2 billion, and Egypt, $1.6 billion.
While he is making all of these dependency cuts, Romney, if elected should investigate and help the twenty-six major American companies that through no fault of their own paid no federal income taxes between 2008 and 2011. According to a report by the nonprofit research group Citizens for Tax Justice, the ten most profitable non-taxpayers were Verizon Communications with profits of $19.8 billion; General Electric with profits of $19.6 billion; Boeing with profits of $14.8; NextEra Energy, North America's largest solar and wind power operator, with profits of $8.8 billion; and American Electric Power with profits of $8.2 billion.
Somehow, Mitt Romney needs to help all of these companies break their dependence on federal dollars and the culture of dependency.