Mitt Romney's remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who he said are "dependent upon government" echoed right-wing "makers vs. takers" rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News.
Romney Dismisses "47 Percent Of Americans" Who "Pay No Income Tax" And Won't Respond To "Our Message Of Low Taxes"
Mother Jones Reports On May 17 Recording At Romney Donor Dinner. In a September 17 post, Mother Jones reported that Romney, to an audience of donors, disparaged those who don't pay income taxes and receive government benefits. Mother Jones posted video of Romney saying:
ROMNEY: 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.
I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 -- he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. He'll 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 they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. [Mother Jones, 9/17/12]
Analysts: Romney's Argument Is One Of Makers vs. Takers
Wash. Post's Klein: "Romney Is Arguing That About 47 Percent Of The Country Is A 'Taker Class.'" Ezra Klein wrote at The Washington Post's Wonkblog:
In his comments, Romney says that "these are people who pay no income tax," but they are people "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."
In other words, Romney is arguing that about 47 percent of the country is a "taker class" that pays little or nothing into the federal government but wants to tax the productive classes for free health care, food, housing, etc. [WashingtonPost.com, 9/17/12]
TheGrio: Romney's "Basic Argument" Is That Obama Supporters "Simply Take From The Rest Of Americans." Zerlina Maxwell wrote on the news site TheGrio:
The message is one that Romney has said on the campaign trail repeatedly, one that he insists he will continue to say, and one that is a tenet of conservative thinking.
Romney's basic argument is that there are large segments of the country -- Obama supporters -- who are freeloaders and don't contribute to our society. This "47 percent" simply take from the rest of Americans -- in Romney's framing they are taking from the wealthy like the people in attendance at the Romney fundraiser -- and they take disproportionately from government benefits. This entire premise is false of course; wealth inequality is at record levels and it's really the rich that take disproportionately from government by way of tax loopholes and government subsidies. [TheGrio, 9/18/12]
Michelle Malkin: Romney Shouldn't Apologize For Saying That Election "Is About America's Makers Vs. America's Takers." Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin tweeted: "This election is about America's makers vs. America's takers. Romney should NEVER be defensive or apologetic about making that clear." [Michelle Malkin, via Twitter, 9/17/12]
Fox Has Repeatedly Pushed "Makers Vs. Takers" Rhetoric
Fox Message Testing: "Entitlement Nation: Makers Vs. Takers." In May 2011, Fox Business ran a week-long attack on the social safety net called, "Entitlement Nation: Makers Vs. Takers." The series labeled beneficiaries of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid "takers." In one segment, host David Asman said the series' title "embodies the great divide in this country between the folks who actually make things, and those who actually take what others make." [Media Matters, 5/24/11]
Fox's Greg Gutfeld's Class Warfare: Occupy Protesters Are "Takers," Tea Partiers Are "Makers." On The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said that "the Tea Partiers are, in a sense, makers; Occupy Wall Street are takers," adding that the "hardcore activists" in the Occupy movement "want to take your wealth." [Fox News, The Five, 11/7/11, via Media Matters]
Fox's Bolling Hypes Conservative Group's Study To Pit "The Takers" Against "The Makers." On The Five, co-host Eric Bolling said that a study by the conservative Heritage Foundation showed that "the takers outweigh the makers." [Fox News, The Five, 2/9/12, via Media Matters]
Bolling: "People Who Are Takers Are Almost More Than 50 percent Of America." Discussing comments made by radio host Rush Limbaugh, Bolling said on The Five: "Let's talk about what Rush said. He said it's a group that goes to work every day, works hard, pays their taxes, just wants to be -- wants to have a voice in the way things are going. The problem is that kind of defines the Tea Party. It looks like a conservative. It looks like the Tea Party. The problem is, it's almost not a majority anymore. People who are takers are almost more than 50 percent of America." [Fox News, The Five, 3/22/12, via Nexis]
Bolling Condemns "Takers" And "Makers" Rhetoric As "Class Warfare" -- Despite Pushing It Himself. Ignoring his own pitting of "makers" against "takers," Bolling said on The Five, seeming to refer to Occupy Wall Street protesters: "[T]his is class warfare. Anytime you highlight the takers, the makers, the haves, the have-nots, the 99 percent, the 1 percent, that's what they're playing. That's the game they're playing." [Fox News, The Five, 2/16/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Dobbs: Occupy Wall Street Is "Forever Trying To Pit The Makers Against The Takers." In criticizing the children's animated film The Lorax for allegedly "demonizing the so-called 1 percent and espousing the virtue of green-energy policies," Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said, "Where have we all heard this before? Occupy Wall Street, forever trying to pit the makers against the takers." Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 2/21/12, via Media Matters]
Fox Guest Discusses When "The Makers In Society Begin To Think That They Are The Suckers Because There So Many Takers." After Fox Business host John Stossel told guest and radio host Charles Sykes that he had purchased federally subsidized flood insurance that he "shouldn't have gotten," Sykes replied: "Well, that's a key, I think, is that sucker principle. At what point do the people who play by the rules, the people who saved, who work hard, who don't dip into the public trough, at what point do they look around and see everybody else getting the transfers, the benefits and say, 'If I don't get in line I'm a sucker'? And that's where I think we have the tipping point, when the makers in society begin to think that they are the suckers because there so many takers, and we have encouraged it across the board." [Fox Business, Stossel, 5/24/12, via Hulu]
FoxNews.com Writer Warns Of "America's Coming Civil War Between The Makers And The Takers." In a July 12 FoxNews.com column, Arthur Herman declared that "another civil war is coming, with the 2012 election as its Gettysburg":
Call it America's coming civil war between the Makers and the Takers.
On one side are those who create wealth, America's private sector--the very ones targeted by President Obama's tax hikes announced Monday.
On the other are the public employee unions; left-leaning intelligentsia who see the growth of government as index of progress; and the millions of Americans now dependent on government through a growing network of government transfer payments, from Medicaid and Social Security to college loans and corporate bailouts and handouts (think GM and Solyndra). [FoxNews.com, 7/12/12]
Right-Wing Media Built Mitt Romney's 47 Percent Line
Romney's Attack On The 47 Percent Was Crafted By Right-Wing Media. The right-wing media have repeatedly attacked those who do not pay federal income taxes, denigrating them as "slovenly" and "lazy" and even suggesting that they not be permitted to vote. [Media Matters, 9/18/12]