First Things editor Rusty Reno is ticked at Romney over the 47 percent thing, mostly because it shows how out of touch Romney is with actual Americans. Excerpt:
Someone working in a meat processing plant in Omaha, Nebraska makes about $12 per hour. That’s $24,000 per year. Throw in some overtime, and maybe he makes close to $30,000. Now deduct the nearly 8% that goes to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Imagine that this guy is lucky and his employer provides health benefits, of which he pays some of the cost. He’s married with two small kids. His contribution is around $250 per month. Now his actual monthly take home pay is $2,050 each month. Rent is $800. Car insurance for one car is $100. According to the USDA, a very frugal family of four can survive on a food budget of $600 per month. They get their clothes, furniture, and appliances at Walmart, and with rigorous budgeting only spend $100 per month.
Reno goes on to speculate about how the family might account for the extra $400 it has each month, and how easily that money could disappear (e.g., car repairs, medication). Then:
This imaginary family certainly pays no income tax, and they qualify for the earned income tax credit, as well as Section 8 housing and food stamps. Furthermore, without federal grants and subsidized loans, the kids would have no hope of a college education. They are in many ways profoundly dependent on government programs for their survival, to say nothing of any opportunity to advance.
So, to return to Romney’s crude comments, yes, they are “takers,” but it is absurd to say that they’re not also “makers.” More importantly, it’s an insult to suggest that someone working more than 2,000 hours per year at a necessary and unpleasant job is somehow mooching off the “producer class.”
I thought I was the only theocon Romney had lost, or just about lost, with his 47 percent talk. Guess not. May this be an indication that Romney has inadvertently done a good thing for American politics: brought back economics as a pressing moral concern for religious conservatives.
I eagerly await Pat Buchanan’s column weighing in on the 47 percent debacle. Remember Pat’s “conservatism of the heart”? We have here Romney’s conservatism of the heartless.