Late this afternoon, Mitt Romney went on Fox’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” to take another stab at what he was trying to say at that Florida fund-raiser about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes. Some pundits are saying that Romney “doubled down” because he didn’t apologize or retract. After watching the interview, my impression is that he tried to mush up what he had said in Florida so that it could not offend as many people and that he succeeded to the point that in the new version he said nothing about anything except that maybe he thinks it would be really great if more people had jobs and fewer people were poor.
This time, he acknowledged that not all of the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax are moochers, especially not the retirees and the military personnel. He still wants to say that his unfortunate Florida remarks about the 47 percent was simply an effort to acknowledge the group of Americans who will not vote for him because they will not benefit from either of the things he wants to do — cut income taxes and shrink government. (Well, actually he wants to cut income taxes in a way that is “revenue neutral,” so it’s not exactly a cut. We can’t really figure out how that works unless he describes the offsetting changes he will make in the tax code to make up for the rate cuts, but he won’t specify any of those. And presumably, the 47 percenters don’t like the idea of a smaller government because they might lose some of their government benefits, but he won’t specify which benefits, if any, he might cut. And, he also acknowledged to Cavuto that a lot of those 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes actually will vote for him, for example retirees.)
Romney wasn’t willing to say that having 47 percent of the population not paying income taxes was too many. (Cavuto asked him, but he ignored the question.) And he specified that under his vision, people in need will continue to get government assistance because “we’re a compassionate people.” He did bring up the alarming growth in the number of people on food stamps, but didn’t suggest that he would do anything about it other than get the economy moving so people can get jobs. Of course, in Florida in May when only his donors were listening, he described the 47 percent as 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.” But all of that was gone on Cavuto where Romney thinks that the non-taxpayers want to become taxpayers if only they could get jobs, which will happen under President Romney. You want specifics? How about this Romney restatement of what he meant to say in Florida:
“The intent that I want to talk about and that that was intended to speak about was the fact that you have a great divide about whether we want a government that’s larger and more intrusive and redistributing income or whether instead you want a government that sees its role as protecting freedom and letting free people build more wealth for all people.”
Here is a video of the eight and a half-minute Romney/Cavuto interview via Mediaite: