09/18/2012 08:04 am ET Updated Sep 18, 2012

Romney: Vote For Me, You Losers: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Romney Relaunch Explodes Over Sea Of Japan: Whoever was in charge of Mitt Romney's campaign relaunch might have a future with the North Korean missile program.

The campaign's effort to re-focus its attention on the economy didn't last a day without massive, possibly fatal, blows. First, neither Romney nor his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) were willing to reveal any details of the tax loopholes they would close in order to make their tax-cut plan math work properly. A campaign trying to get on offense was once again on defense, admitting it was losing the message war on taxes to President Obama.

The far bigger blow to the campaign came from a leaked video, released by David Corn of Mother Jones, of Romney speaking at a closed-door fundraiser, at which he appeared to write off 47 percent of American households as government-dependent losers. "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent 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.... And they will vote for this president no matter what…. These are people who pay no income tax." Romney then doubled down on these comments in a press conference late last night, admitting only that his case was "not elegantly stated," but not backing down from the central premise.

The trouble with his comments is not only their lack of elegance, but their lack of accuracy. It is simply not the case that half of all Americans are sitting around doing nothing but living on the government dole. Among the 47 percent (or 51 percent, depending on who is counting) of people who pay no federal income tax, most are the working poor, who still pay federal payroll taxes. Among the approximately 17 percent of households that pay neither income nor payroll taxes, most are elderly or disabled, including disabled veterans, collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits. This group almost certainly includes many people who count themselves Republican and might be surprised to hear hey have been lumped into a group of government-leeching Obama lovers.

As for the elegance of the comments, it is potentially galling that they come from a man who has refused to reveal much about his own tax liabilities, aside from pointing out that he has not in the past decade paid less than 13 percent of his income -- a rate far lower than the 15 percent payroll-tax rate, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein notes. (h/t Ben White)

But this is the reductio ad absurdum of the Republican Party's hard turn toward an Ayn Randian binary view of the electorate: In this view, you are either a Maker or a Taker, an entrepreneur or a moocher. It is a childish and insulting worldview, but it is one that Mitt Romney has embraced. It befuddles middle-of-the-road conservatives like David Brooks, who this morning writes that Romney's view is "a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other." And though it might rile the Tea Party, it could well be political poison.

Thing Two: Let's All Get Mad At China: Back in the real-world economy, everybody is mad at China all of a sudden. President Obama, in no way at all trying to score cheap political points, went to Ohio to brag about filing an action with the WTO accusing China of unfairly subsidizing its cars and auto parts. The WTO action probably won't amount to much, writes Keith Bradsher in The New York Times, though he is obviously in the tank for China. Meanwhile, China's dispute with Japan over some islands continued apace, with Japanese companies shutting down plants in China after violent protests there.

Thing Three: European Banks Now Bigger And Fail-ier: European banks last year promised to cut more than $1 trillion in debt from their books, in an effort to get leaner amid the continent's never-ending debt crisis. Instead, they've only plumped up more, growing their assets by 7 percent, according to Bloomberg. And it is all the European Central Bank's fault, somehow.

Thing Four: Arctic Oil Uselessly Trapped In Ground For Another Year: Sad news, everybody: Shell Oil is not going to be able to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic for another year, the NYT writes. An oil-spill containment dome got damaged in testing, apparently, setting the whole project back. But don't worry, the Obama administration is going to do everything it can to help Shell get all that environmental-protection stuff ready for next year.

Thing Five: Crude-Oil Flash Crash: Meanwhile, the price of already-drilled crude oil plunged very suddenly and mysteriously late yesterday afternoon, in what appeared to be either a "fat-finger" accidental trade or yet another high-speed trading debacle, The Wall Street Journal writes. There was a rumor that a headline-reading robot saw the letters "SPR" -- as in Strategic Petroleum Reserve -- and dumped a bunch of oil immediately. But the selloff didn't totally snap back, as is the case in many flash crashes, so the mystery is still unresolved.

Thing Six: So Maybe Not An iPhlop, Then? Somehow that iPhone 5 that nobody likes still managed to break all kinds of sales records, with more than two million orders booked in the first 24 hours of sales, Reuters reports. The news helped Apple's stock price crack $700 for the first time ever. The company is now worth about $655 billion, or more than the annual GDP of Switzerland.

Thing Seven: Junk Food Plus Video Games Equals Profit: It used to be that the only way junk-food manufacturers could reach their target demographic, small children, was to advertise on Saturday morning. Now, thanks in part to those bajillion iPhones being sold everywhere, there's a much more cost-effective way to push food on little kids, the WSJ writes: Make video games with them, games like "Cookie Dough Bites Factory" and "SuperPretzel Factory."

Thing Seven And One Half: Newsweek Rage: In honor of Newsweek's outrageous "Muslim Rage" cover, here, via Uproxx, are several more alarmist Newsweek covers.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

10:00 a.m. ET: NAHB Housing Index for September

Corporate Earnings:

7:30 a.m. ET: FedEx

Heard On The Tweets:

ObsoleteDogma: Remember, a guy who pays capital gains on his income due to carried interest is upset that *other people* aren't paying enough tax.

daveweigel: You know who don't pay net income taxes? A lot of old people who rely on Medicare and Social Security. What's up, Florida?

CardiffGarcia: If only Romney had yelled #MuslimRage at the end of his 47% comments, everyone would have known he was joking

AdamSerwer: Got to shul late and all the good seats were taken. #JewishRage

slarkpope: Gonna start a black metal U2 cover band called Death Rattle N Hum

You can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff



Twitter Reacts To Romney's '47 Percent' Controversy