Romney and the 47%
I’ll leave the subject of whether Governor Romney’s “47%”-comments from the fundraiser will hurt or aid him in his quest to replace President Obama in the White House for others to discuss. Here I want to highlight the underlying implication and stakes in what Governor Romney was saying.
Most of you know the numbers by now. The bottom 50% of earners end up paying less than 3% of the total income tax in the United States while receiving generous support from the government in various forms. Republicans would be well served by focusing on the second half of that equation instead of the first, because the second half of the equation is where the real ideological battle for the soul of the country will take place. Losing that battle is likely to leave the Republican Party and those who believe in individual and economic freedoms irrelevant in the future.
The Democrats and President Obama believe that the government is a force for good and that it can make decisions on behalf of citizens that will have great benefits for the nation. Because of their faith in government, Democrats in general have no problem with an ever growing federal government involved in almost everything from taxing donuts and placing fines on lemonade stands to education and “sustainable” energy. Think about Obama’s fictional Julia and how the government aids her in every stage of her life.
A mere bonus for the Democrats is the fact that this builds a strong electoral coalition of those who share their ideological goals. This includes left-leaning individuals, public sector employees, those on the receiving end of government’s redistribution of resources, and private companies receiving preferential treatment by the government.
Scaling back the ever growing federal government is not simply an ideological position anymore but has started to become a necessity for Republicans if they want to stand a chance to prevail in future presidential elections.
I know that scaling back government isn’t to be found on President Obama’s “to do”-list, but I hope it’s on Governor Romney’s. His comments today about the “47%” seem to signal that he does in fact realize that action is needed unless America intends to go the way of Greece.