THURSDAY UPDATE: The Washington Post's Paul Waldman writes this morning, as this story catches on nationally with a swiftness that can only be explained by the prophetic similarity to Mitt Romney's subsequent and ill-fated 47% speech:
The Beauprez video was taken in 2010, in an appearance before a Rotary Club, and it’s familiar by now — the 47 percent figure, the assurance that those in the room are not part of the moocher class, and the conspiratorial theory that Democrats have created this situation for political ends…
If you want a refresher on the 47 percent claim, The Post’s Fact Checker did one in 2012, but the short version is that while approximately that many people don’t pay federal income tax (credit to Beauprez for being specific about that), many of them are elderly people no longer working, and most of the rest pay substantial payroll taxes, not to mention all the other kinds of taxes we all do, such as gas taxes and sales taxes and property taxes.
But what’s revealing about this factoid is that when it is offered, you almost never hear it followed by a particular policy argument about taxes. Neither Beauprez nor Mitt Romney raised the 47 percent claim and then said that in response we ought to raise rates on the working poor or cut the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is what brings the federal income tax bill for so many of them down to zero (and, by the way, was once something Republicans championed). That’s because the 47 percent argument isn’t really about tax policy. It’s about aiming resentment downward, dividing Americans into the virtuous and the contemptible.
Beauprez continues to believe exactly what he said in 2010. Indeed, the Denver Post report added, “Reached while traveling, Beauprez’s campaign stood by the remarks.”
And that’s the problem.
Ed Kilgore noted in response, “Lord knows how many of these ‘47 percent’ videos are floating around, or will yet be made. Truth is, this line of ‘argument’ is like a bottomless crack pipe for Republicans, flattering their ‘base’ as the people actually doing all the work in our society and blasting those people as not only lazy and worthless but as dupes of a shady vote-buying elite.”
I’d just add that Beauprez’s perspective appears to be based, at least in part, on some basic confusion about tax policy. The Republican is concerned about the “47 percent of all Americans [who] pay no federal income tax,” but this is an incomplete look at a larger picture.
As we’ve discussed before, millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes because they simply don’t make enough money, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes. It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something – the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify. Indeed, many are retirees who can’t earn an income because they’re no longer in the workforce.
UPDATE: As it turns out, the video below isn't the only time Bob Beauprez invoked the so-called "47%" to erroneously disparage millions of working class Americans like Mitt Romney did in 2012. Check out this April 2010 blog post, recovered from Beauprez's now-moribund A Line of Sight blog:
The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute determined that nearly half of tax filers in America, 47%, in 2009 will pay no income tax. The rest get the whole bill. In fact, many of those that pay no income tax will actually receive checks from the government who got it from the other half of the American taxpayers – consistent with Obama’s “spread the wealth” ideology.
Don't try to reconcile this with Beauprez's civil war "worries," because the two put together sound most unpleasant.
UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:
“It’s shocking that a candidate for Governor would basically accuse half of the population of being freeloaders,” said Colorado Democratic Chairman Rick Palacio. “Not only is Beauprez out of touch, but his elitist remarks show that he has no respect for Colorado’s seniors, our veterans or hard working families that are struggling to get by.”
Beauprez’s campaign is standing by the remarks.
“In full context, it’s clear [Bob’s] saying that it’s sad more people are not doing well enough to pay federal income tax,” said Dustin Olson, Beauprez’s campaign manager. “Bob’s focused on strengthening our economy so more people have jobs and can prosper. Like Bob has been saying we should be focused on lifting people up and creating more opportunity…"
9NEWS' Kyle Clark:
"It's ironic that Congressman Beauprez is accusing half of Coloradans of being "takers", including veterans and seniors, but now he is on a Unity Tour across the state," said Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.
"After Coloradans have worked together to recover from fires and floods, the last thing we need is the divisive type of extreme rhetoric that Bob Beauprez has spent his career peddling," Palacio said.
Beauprez's campaign countered that the 2010 speech was intended to highlight the dismal state of the American economy, not cast aspersions on low income Americans…
The Denver Post's Joey Bunch and Kurtis Lee, out this evening with a devastating newly unearthed video from GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez's past (video above, good stuff starts about about 5:30 in. Remember when Mitt Romney endorsed Beauprez? That connection is about to make Beauprez very uncomfortable:
On a day when the Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez toured the state to "build unity," a video surfaced that Democrats say shows his divisiveness.
The video shows Beauprez in a speech to the Denver Rotary Club in 2010 making comments that are similar to those that hurt Mitt Romney's challenge to President Barack Obama two years later.
"I see something that frankly doesn't surprise me, having been on Ways and Means Committee: 47 percent of all Americans pay no federal income tax," the former congressman said. "I'm guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent — God bless you — but what that tells me is that we've got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill and most of that half is you all."
The story is already spreading nationally, Talking Points Memo:
It's not precisely the same as the original Mitt version. But it's close. And in some ways goes in still new directions. The video appears to be from 2010. He generally describes the fat and happy poors among us who are "perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill and most of that half is you all." "I submit to you that there is a political strategy to get slightly over half and have a permanent ruling majority by keeping over half of the population dependent on the largess of government that somebody else is paying for."
As we've recounted in this space, there are a wealth of very nasty, in a number of cases even race-ending gaffes and extreme statements waiting for Bob Beauprez to explain now that he's the GOP's nominee. Beauprez is already taking heat over his Obama/civil war comments. Nobody has revisited his rant about Shariah law is 'sneaking in' to Colorado, how climate change is a hoax, or his "birther" dalliances since he won the primary. And there is a lot more out there that we haven't even blogged about, much less seen exposure in the press.
That said, there's something special about these remarks, and how closely they parallel Romney's infamous "47%" speech. For that reason alone, this could be the event that precipitates Beauprez's next electoral disaster.