Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Romney and the 47%

The following post is not mine.  It is reprinted from here.  Click to see the original if you would like to view pictures.  Anne Robertson is a blogger and a preacher and a thinker who I have recently discovered. If you click on the link in order to read the original article, I suggest you read the comments as well.

I will post some thoughts of my own at the end of Anne's letter to Mitt Romney. 

It is personal now. You have insulted my family, and your policies embody an actual threat to my mother's life. Mitt Romney, meet my mother.

Dear Mr. Romney,

I watched your comments to those who paid $50,000 to have dinner with you. If you weren't a candidate for President, I would simply be disgusted and keep my peace. But you are trying to take the helm of my country--to shape policies that will affect my life and the lives of those I love. The video, taken when you thought no one was watching, reveals a frightening callousness that I can only pray never darkens the door of the Oval Office.

I'm sure you remember your words, as you have refused to disown or even moderate them, saying only that you somehow didn't say it just right. Au contraire, I find your words crystal clear:

"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, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."

It is personal now. You have insulted my family, and your policies embody an actual threat to my mother's life. Mitt Romney, meet my mother. Yes, that's her in the picture. You'll note that she has such a sense of entitlement that my brother has to feed her. Shame on her. She won't even pick up a fork.

It's true. She pays no taxes. And it's true that she will not vote for you. Actually, she won't vote for anyone. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and I'm afraid at this stage she would be considered a "low-information voter." She does not speak and often doesn't remember how to swallow. A "good" visit is a day when she opens her eyes. My last meaningful conversation with her was almost a decade ago. She will not be voting.

You see her in this picture in the dining room of the nursing home that gives her excellent care. She is well-beyond the stage where anyone in our family could care for her. In her day, she was a shrewd money-manager, making the best of her pension as a public school teacher and the life insurance money she received when my father dropped dead at age 47. But, alas, it still was not enough.

Every scrap of savings and investment she once had are now gone, as my (Republican) stepfather did everything he could to avoid taking a dime of government money. But she has good genes. She has been in a care facility now for eight years. Her pension was enough to let her live a comfortable life in retirement, but her nursing home care is twice her monthly pension amount. We have just arranged to donate her body to science at her passing, since there will not even be funds to have a funeral.

It is now the Medicaid program that makes up the difference between her pension and the cost of her care. Mr. Romney, you haven't talked much about your running mate's proposal to cut 34% from the Medicaid program. You do realize, don't you, that 2/3 of the people on Medicaid are seniors in nursing homes like my mother? Nobody on Medicaid pays taxes. Do you care? Oh, I forgot, you addressed that with your donors:

"And-- 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 for their lives."

What are we to do when you take away my irresponsible mother's Medicaid? Oh, yeah--you answered that, too. She should go to the Emergency Room. Are they prepared for her to live there?

Just as an aside, Mr. Romney, my parents were Republicans, embodying the best of the "compassionate conservatism" that once characterized the GOP. They were both public school teachers and guidance counselors who never did join the union, but who counted union members as lifelong friends and allies. When the teacher's union went on strike they did not cross the picket line. Instead they went and served coffee, while wincing at the misspelled signs of protesters who came to mock those on strike.

When times were tough in the seventies, my parents struggled. I remember my mother sitting down with me in those hard times and asking me about the silver service she had been given when she and my father were married. Was it something I would want one day? Times were getting tough and she was thinking of selling it, but she would find another way if I wanted it. The silver was sold. The RV that had taken our family on two cross-country camping trips was sold, as was much else. They did not ask for a handout, they made it work, even while maintaining their tithe to the Baptist church where they were officers and Sunday School teachers.

My parents took in students in crisis, fought for civil rights in our town, took out a second mortgage on our home to send me to college. And yes, they paid taxes. They did it the hard way. They gave of themselves to others in need, even when it didn't result in a tax deduction. They were people of faith, and they had no independent sources of income apart from their jobs.

My father served in the army and in the first years of their marriage they rented a small home to live in--but only during the winter. During the summer they lived in campgrounds near the California army base where my father was stationed. My mother was raised by her great-grandmother. My father's family lost their small business in the Depression. When they went to Brown University (Pembroke for my mother) as undergraduates, they could not ask their parents for a loan. They later scraped together more money to go to grad school. Both of them pulled their way up from poverty to the middle class through their own hard work and sacrifice.

Come to think of it, my mother actually might be just the teensiest bit "entitled" to help with a devastating illness in her senior years. She's been a good citizen of these United States. She has fulfilled civic duties, gave her life to public education, and did her best to embody Christ's command to love her neighbor as herself. And now, Mr. Romney, you would have her feel shame that she doesn't have $8,000 a month to pay for her care? Now that she is in need, your administration would view her as a parasite and it won't be your job as President to worry about her and people like her?

Like the Grinch, Mr. Romney, your heart appears to be at least two sizes too small. Since you have refused to articulate the details of your actual policies, I can only assume that they will reflect that too-small heart.

You have said quite plainly that your job is not to worry about people like my mother. In your estimation she sees herself as a "victim," and she feels "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." Alzheimer's is an awful disease. But, Mr. Romney, I am so glad that my mother is not able to comprehend your words. I would not add your insult to her injury, even for all your millions.

Postscript from me:

I'm relatively conservative.  Not as much as my very conservative spouse, but I lean to the right, most times.  Not always.

This is a presidential election, like others I have known, where I am very unhappy with the choice I have. I don't usually post political stuff. I have very dear friends who are passionate Republicans, and other equally dear friends who are passionate Democrats. But Romney's gaffe struck a very discordant note, brought tears to my eyes, and made me think of my own mother, pictured to the left.  She died a few years ago, but she had many similarities to Anne's mother.  She was very thrifty, absolutely refused government aid for which she would have qualified in her later years, was a lifelong conservative, a giver to church and charity, and a very proud woman. 

She saved and went without so that she could gain a bit of a nest egg.  That nest egg disappeared about one year after she entered a nursing home.  She lived two more years.  She never knew that she was on Medicaid, because she had dementia.  If she had known, she would have been deeply ashamed.

I also live with someone who made some bad life choices which result in him being a recipient of services that come from your tax dollars.  I am sad about that, for many reasons.  But...the fact is that Ken and I could not afford to get him the services he needs in order to live.  Sometimes, even with his medical bills covered, it is a stretch for us to have him in our home.  I wonder, sometimes, if my conservative friends realize that it is often the families of the "47%" who would struggle along with their loved one. 

Just something to ponder...


SRB said...

HI Dorcus, My only comment is that Romney did not say he "did not care" about the people who are on some government assistance, he said he was not going to try to persuade them to vote for him. That there is a segment of the population that just want handouts. We all know people who choose to work part time or not at all because they know exactly how much they can make and still get all the benefits. That is the segment that he is talking about. There are people who could work but choose not too. He and most Republicans have no problem helping those who need it. Even if the help they need is because of choices they made. The fact is we have lowered the bar that many people who are middle class or just below middle class and they get free health care, food stamps, energy assistance and yet they have an I- phone, cable TV, a second home, in several cases I know of. No one says we should put people out and deny them care. But we are also at tipping point in this country. If more people are on some assistance then there are people who pay taxes then we will no longer be able to afford to help anyone. People who know they can vote for themselves benefits will vote that way. I have family that are on the assistants that I speak of, they do not need to be on it they choose to be on it. Almost every one living in this country has/ or had the opportunity to work and save. Sometimes circumstances beyond their control
prevents this. But we as a nation are broke, that is a fact. We could take ALL the money from the so called rich and it would not even put a dent in the debt. So you can not tax your way out, there has to be cuts. Take a close look at China, my children are a result of a nation that does not have the money to take care of their own. Also the media in this country is no longer a free press, the mainstream press in this country is very liberal. They take things out of context and distort what was said. Did they do the same with Obama's comments about redistribution of wealth? Or did not one even hear them? And so ends my RANT!

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

I understand, Shirley. Yes, I do know people who take advantage of Uncle Sam, and I too have concerns about the press...and MANY other things. But I do not beleive that it is half of the American public. As Anne noted, and I've known for years, 2/3 of the Medicaid budget goes to nursing homes. Most people don't know that. I have serious issues with Obama, and I don't think either of them are bad people because they have $. But I think that, in our frustration with those who abuse the systme, we forget some things. That is all. Rant away, sis. I do it all the time. Just not on my blog. However, I do have a special link just for Rants. :-)

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

I didn't mean YOU can't rant on my blog. I meant I don't usually do so. Nor do I usually put political stuff on FB because I think that is not a good place for real discussion...but this time I just had to. Perhaps I misunderstood...and I KNOW clips are taken out of context all the time. But I heard, "It's not my job to worry about those people." Those people are the 47%, an accurate figure, but...oh, I'll shut up now.

LoieJ said...

Romney showed extraordinary animation, for him, when making these comments, compared to his usual speaking style. I thought that showed that he really meant what he was saying. His "mistake" was not saying that there are indeed some people who take advantage of the government. Rather, he lumped together those who don't pay taxes for all reasons: disabled, elderly, those in the military in combat zones, those who get wonderful deductions because of great tax attorneys (7000 millionaires), people starting out in their work life with very low paying jobs, those who choose to stay home with their babies rather than taking a somewhat low paying job, etc. The actual cheaters are a very small minority. And perhaps some of the millionaires are also among the cheaters. We've also got multi-million $$ companies which pay no income tax because of loop holes passed by the congress. It is also a fact that there are very many companies which could afford to pay their employees a wage that would indeed qualify for paying more income taxes rather than the owners of that companies squirreling the profits away in foreign investments, away from the eyes of the IRS. Sure, clamp down on cheaters, but also look to successful companies to pay their employees a living wage. Did you know that it would take the average Wal-Mart employee a thousand years to earn what a Walton heir (not working) makes from the inheritance in a year?

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Yep. Just cannot get excited about Romney. I don't think there is anything wrong with being rich. I'd like to be rich, actually. But...lumping all together was what bothered me about what he said. Vets, elderly in NH, student loans....and just perpetuating stereotypes.

Bearded Eagle said...

I think we should do away with the income tax altogether. Let's have a national sales tax. Most of the rich spend it and any cheaters would also spend it. All the under the table jobs would then get taxed when they spent it. We could exempt food and medicine and have a way of fileing at the end of the year to help the working poor get some of the tax mony back.

Kevin Bennett said...

That's close to what we enjoy in Australia. National consumption tax introduced 12 years ago, resulting in dramatically falling income taxes over time.
We also have universal health care, universal education, unlimited (time)unemployment benefits, subsidised pharmaceuticals, a minimum living wage...
It's a shame that the politics in America is such an ugly sport, with each side characterising the other as evil. It results in precisely the kind of reckless statements we saw from Romney. If it weren't for the polemically entrenched positions of Republican and Democrat, who knows? Some of those benefits could be enjoyed in the USA too.
I love the blog post. It's one of very few attempts I've stumbled across, to express some middle-road politics in the USA. Common sense has a chance...

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Thank you, Kevin!