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Ear to the Ground

Krugman on Romney’s ‘47 Percent’ Comment and the GOP’s ‘Disdain for Workers’

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Posted on Sep 21, 2012
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, weighed in on the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney over the leaked video footage in which the GOP presidential nominee rips on the “47 percent” of Americans who he claims do not pay any income tax.

Krugman poses the following question in an Op-Ed he penned Friday for The New York Times: “Should we imagine that Mr. Romney and his party would think better of the 47 percent on learning that the great majority of them actually are or were hard workers, who very much have taken personal responsibility for their lives?”

The columnist answers his own question with a resounding “no,” explaining that Romney’s remark reveals a truth about the candidate but also about the entire Republican Party: The GOP is just not worker friendly. Instead, the party lauds “job creators,” whom Krugman describes as the “employers” and “investors.”

Paul Krugman via The New York Times:

Needless to say, the G.O.P.’s disdain for workers goes deeper than rhetoric. It’s deeply embedded in the party’s policy priorities. Mr. Romney’s remarks spoke to a widespread belief on the right that taxes on working Americans are, if anything, too low. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal famously described low-income workers whose wages fall below the income-tax threshold as “lucky duckies.”

...Where does this disdain for workers come from? Some of it, obviously, reflects the influence of money in politics: big-money donors, like the ones Mr. Romney was speaking to when he went off on half the nation, don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.

In the eyes of those who share this vision, the wealthy deserve special treatment, and not just in the form of low taxes. They must also receive respect, indeed deference, at all times. That’s why even the slightest hint from the president that the rich might not be all that — that, say, some bankers may have behaved badly, or that even “job creators” depend on government-built infrastructure — elicits frantic cries that Mr. Obama is a socialist.

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—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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