On Wednesday, as Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez toured Colorado 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 echo those that hurt Mitt Romney's challenge to President Barack Obama two years later.
One of the more striking developments in the last presidential campaign was Mitt Romney's "47 percent" video. It wasn't just the elitist attitude the failed Republican candidate displayed when he thought the public couldn't see him; it was also the underlying ideology. Romney laid bare an ideology that looks at roughly half the American population as lazy parasites.
What we didn't know at the time is that he also helped mark the beginning of a trend. In North Carolina, for example, Senate hopeful Thom Tillis had his own 47-percent-style video in which he called for a "divide and conquer" campaign against Americans who rely on public assistance to get by. Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) ran into a similar problem, as did Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli (R).
It looks like Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Bob Beauprez (R) has joined the club.
"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," Beauprez said in the video. "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."
In fairness, it's worth emphasizing that the video is four years old -- unlike the Romney video, which was recorded during the campaign -- though 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.
Indeed, we can go one step further with this and ask Bob Beauprez a simple question: do you believe it's time for Congress to increase federal income taxes on 47 percent of the country?
Remember, Republicans oppose tax hikes with every fiber of their being, unless we're talking about the poor, in which case the right sees raising taxes as a real possibility.
This isn't complicated. The GOP candidate for governor believes 47 percent of the population isn't doing enough to "pay the bills" in the United States. Fine. Then how much does Beauprez want to raise their taxes to remedy this injustice?