We get it that Willard (“Mitt”) Romney is the candidate of, by, and for the 1 Percent, but he keeps reminding us anyway. Going into South Carolina, where they have some of the worst unemployment, Willard might want to re-think his message. On Tuesday night in New Hampshire, he complained that the 99 Percent represent only the “bitter politics of envy.” The next morning, he doubled down in an interview with Matt Lauer.
LAUER: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word ‘envy.’ Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?
ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.
LAUER: Yeah but envy? Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as ‘envy,’ though?
ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.
Many would not agree that multimillionaires and billionaires who take profits and bonuses from fraud and government bailouts are simply more “successful” than the rest of us. They belong behind bars. And 99 percent of us are never invited into the “quiet rooms” where big decisions are made — that is why people are out on the streets protesting the lack of democracy in America.
A super-PAC supporting Newt Gingrich’s campaign in South Carolina is airing a 28-minute Swift Boat-style attack on Romney’s record as the chief executive officer of the private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC. Romney is depicted as a financier “more ruthless than Wall Street” and responsible for firing thousands of workers. The term “vulture capitalist” has come back into public discourse, this time specifically to describe Romney. Link to video: “When Mitt Romney Came to Town.”
Income inequality is at its worst level since the Great Depression and Americans are increasingly concerned about losing their place in the shrinking middle class. Most of us no longer believe that our children will live a better life, and 72% of families have grown children living with them or know someone who does. When workers in other countries are being told to accept lower wages in order to compete with lower-paid Americans, that’s a warning sign.
They only call it “class warfare” when we fight back.
UPDATE: Obama Administration Chief Economist: Talking About Income Inequality Is Not ‘An Issue About Envy At All’. According to Alan Krueger, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, the shift in income inequality over the last three decades is the equivalent of moving $1.1 trillion of income from the 99 percent to the top 1 percent every single year. This has led to a severe shrinking of the middle class.
UPDATE: Romney negotiated a $10 million federal bailout from the FDIC to save Bain Capital from bankruptcy in 1993. It’s fair to say we all could be in the “most successful” 1 Percent if we had access to a $10 million gift.