Using the now infamous “47 percent” video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as ammunition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took the the Senate floor on Wednesday and delivered a verbal condemnation of Romney as a man not fit to be president of the United States. He not only touched on the regular themes being used against the Romney campaign like his ruthlessness as a businessman at Bain Capital and his being out of touch with the average American, but Reid also resurrected accusatory insinuations over Romney’s reluctance to release his past tax returns. Pointing at tax breaks and offshore bank accounts, Reid again suggested Romney might have been one that actually paid no federal taxes.
“For all we know,” Sen. Reid said from the Senate floor, as transcribed by Real Clear Politics , “Mitt Romney could be one of those who have paid no federal income taxes. Thousands of families making more than $1 million pay nothing in federal income taxes each year. Is Mitt Romney among them?”
Adding that the truth might never be known because of Romney’s refusal to share his past tax records (besides his current ones), Reid noted that what was known was the former Massachusetts governor’s tax rate — and it was lower than the average middle class American worker’s tax rate.
Reid slammed the presidential candidate’s speech secretly caught on video at a private fund-raiser in Boca Raton, Fla., and obtained by Mother Jones magazine . He listed those of the 47 percent that Romney apparently considered unworthy of his time: seniors, minimum-wage earners, military personnel, college students, the unemployed made so not by choice but by — and Reid took direct aim at Romney and his days at Bain Capital with regard to some of the jobless — ” some private equity fund closed their factory and shipped their job to China.” He then asked who Romney would willingly raise taxes on. Alluding to the Paul Ryan budget that Romney has endorsed, Reid noted that Romney was perfectly willing to take away tax breaks that help the average family put food on their table and ensure that millionaires like himself got tax cuts that averaged out to a quarter of a million dollars to pad their bank accounts.
In the secretly recorded speech, Romney dismissed 47 percent of the Americans as federal freeloaders and equated them with the near equivalent number of voters that would vote for Obama “no matter what.” Instead, he said he would concentrate on the more “thoughtful” 5 to 10 percent of independent voters that could give him enough votes to carry him to the White House.
The video and Romney’s words quickly became headlines and the focus of Democratic attacks. Several Republicans also distanced themselves from the comments, like Sen. Scott Brown and Republican senatorial hopeful Linda McMahon , who are running in hotly contested Democratic-leaning states.
But to Reid, who has taken Romney to task over his refusal to release at least 10 years of tax returns before and who again didn’t hesitate to bring up the fact that it was Romney’s own father, George, who had initiated the practice when he ran for president in 1968. Romney has defended not releasing more of his tax records because he says he doesn’t want the information twisted. It is such a defense that Reid and the Obama campaign point to as indicating there is something the GOP candidate is hiding. Reid has repeatedly accused Romney of not paying any taxes , which is why he has been evading full disclosure.
And having paid no federal taxes would make Romney look the complete hypocrite should it come to light.
But Reid makes it a point at the end of his speech to show that Romney is not in touch with the regular lives and daily struggles of the average American, pressing the point that Romney’s economics point to a mindset where the wealthy pay less and get more tax incentives and breaks while the poor, the disabled, students and soldiers pay a little more — something they cannot truly afford.
According to Reid, “And if he won’t stand up and fight for every American as President, then he doesn’t deserve to serve any American as President.”
It is difficult to say if the message of Romney as the completely out-of-touch plutocrat who looks with disdain upon some imaginary 47 percent within the American populace as moochers and dependent has had any resonance with the public at large. Daily tracking polls by Gallup and Rasmussen see President Obama up by one percentage point in the former and Romney up by a percentage point in the latter .
Not that the Senate Majority Leader hasn’t been working hard to get a little distance between his party’s candidate and the Republican challenger.