Let Them Have Microwaves!

Romney Campaign: Out-of-Touch on the Economy

We already know that Mitt Romney thinks almost half of Americans are lazy moochers with a victim mentality and that he is “not concerned about the very poor.” And that his running mate Paul Ryan also dismissed an even larger swath of Americans as “takers.”

A pair of top economic advisers to Romney — two who are all but guaranteed top jobs if he wins — added to the out-of-touch aura surrounding Mitt Romney and his campaign. Let’s walk through their deeply flawed arguments.

Potential Romney Treasury Secretary: “the Rich Are Taxed Enough”

Glenn Hubbard, the former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush and now a top Romney adviser, argued against asking the wealthiest Americans — even the ultrawealthy like Mitt Romney — to pay their fair share:

“The rich are taxed enough.” […]

“Raising tax rates on the rich is both counter-productive and unnecessary to fund the government we want,” said Hubbard.

While steering clear of specifics, Hubbard told the audience at the Intelligence Squared Debate that “higher tax rates won’t necessarily produce enhancements in revenue.”

Thanks to the aggressive tax cuts Hubbard oversaw during his time in the Bush administration, there was far from enough money to fund the government Bush wanted — saddling us with huge deficits and trillions in debt. And Mitt Romney’s plans to raise taxes on middle class families, implement draconian spending cuts to domestic programs, end Medicare as we know it, dramatically cut Medicaid and slash Social Security will also leave the government without the revenue its needs thanks to Romney’s plans for $5 TRILLION in tax cuts favoring the wealthiest Americans. We would have endless deficits even as tens of millions of Americans lose access to programs and benefits they depend on each day – all so the wealthy and corporations can get huge new tax cuts.

Lower taxes on the wealthy hasn’t created more economic growth. In fact, under the Bush administration’s economic policies, the country saw tepid job growth, 8.3 million people fell into poverty and child poverty rose by 3 percent. A recent analysis from the Center for American Progress found that “in the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.” In fact, “if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher.”

Inequality Doesn’t Matter Because Poor People Have Appliances?

Not be outdone by Hubbard, Kevin Hassett, another top adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign denied the nation’s income inequality gap in a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday, brushing off the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of the very wealthy by arguing that lower-income Americans are buying more consumer goods.

Yes, you read that right: a top Romney adviser thinks it’s fine for the wealthiest to keep getting wealthier at the expense of everyone else so long as the poorest Americans have basic necessities like microwaves and fridges. And further, that you aren’t really that bad off if you have these necessities.

You can read a very detailed analysis from some of our colleagues about how wrong this is HERE.  The long and short of it is that appliances and commonly used consumer gadgets like cell phones are necessities in the 21st century and are significantly cheaper today than they were just decades earlier. In fact, were families to sell their appliances in order to help pay for food and other basic necessities, many would still struggle — for while prices on microwaves and air conditioners have fallen, “the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs” are “squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike.”

You may have heard Hassett’s argument before — from Rush Limbaugh. It’s one of his favorites.

BOTTOM LINE: Mitt Romney and his advisers are unwilling or unable to understand the lives and struggles of most Americans, especially poor Americans.  The poor and the middle class simply cannot afford the cost of a Romney presidency.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Advocacy Team