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Not a Gaffe

12:00 AM, Sep 22, 2012 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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Wrong: polls show that Romney is likely to get 35 percent of the half of Americans who don’t pay income taxes. Perhaps Romney’s message that lower taxes stimulate the growth necessary to provide the government with tax revenues to fund benefit programs has more supporters than he reckons. Or that the long-term unemployed have learned the hard way that four more years of Obama will mean a longer stay on the dole queue. Or the failure of the Obama foreign policy is as worrying to the non-income-tax-paying group as to those who do pay those taxes. Or the Republicans’ position on the so-called social issues (opposed to gay marriage and abortion) resonates with many of the voters Romney is writing off. It might be a good idea for one of the candidate’s advisors to remind him that man indeed does not live by bread alone, and that the half of the electorate that he has written off might well respond to a clear, positive, detailed, as yet undelivered message laying out how he plans to cut the deficit and grow the economy.

It is probably too much to hope for that Romney will reconnect with conservative principles, principles that leave ample room for policies that ease the plight of those who entered this world with fewer advantages than he did; that his oft-stated opposition to “redistribution” allows for continuation of a progressive income tax and includes opposition to use of the tax code to benefit recipients of carried interest, capital gains, dividend income, and those who deduct interest paid on second-home mortgages. These are every bit as redistributional of after-tax income as the version Obama has in mind, a kind of “gotcha,” indiscriminate taking from the rich to give to the poor.

Absent some recognition by Mitt Romney that he must spend less time in the agreeable company of funders who share his prejudices, and more explaining to voters in swing states just what he has in mind for America, it looks like four more years for the president. 

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