A Remarkable False Equivalence: No, Obama’s “Redistribution” Remark Is Not a “47%” Moment

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obamamitt A Remarkable False Equivalence: No, Obamas Redistribution Remark Is Not a 47% MomentIn the wake of the biggest political gaffe in recent memory (“gaffe” isn’t even the correct word here, since Romney said precisely what he meant to say to that $50,000/plate audience), we have been eagerly awaiting the Republicans’ response to the crisis. And indeed, Romney has followed each step of the Politicians’ Crisis Management Handbook:

Step 1.)  Claim the comments were taken out of context. Wait… Mother Jones released the full, unedited video? Dammit! Okay, abandon that strategy and move on to step two.

Step 2.)  Claim your remarks are consistent with your world view but concede that they were inelegantly phrased. If Stephen Colbert mercilessly mocks this line of defense, move swiftly to step three.

Step 3.)  Find a similar incident in your opponent’s history in order to divert the media’s attention away from your own damaging remarks.  What’s that? You can’t find any comments from your opponent that are even remotely similar? Don’t worry!!  Just pull, like, one word from some speech he gave 14 years ago and try to dance the old false equivalence jig on Fox News.

Ding ding ding!!  And that’s exactly the strategy the Republicans have landed upon. In a remarkable coincidence of timing, the Romney campaign “leaked” a “secret” audio in which super-socialist Barack Obama said he hates all the hard-working rich people and wants to give their money away to lazy welfare recipients.  Oh wait, no, that’s just the imaginary audio that Republicans are pretending they found.  What they actually found was an audio tape from 1998 in which Obama explained that the government needed to find a way to prevent wasteful spending while at the same time redistributing resources so that all people have a fair opportunity to succeeed:

There has been a systematic — I don’t think it’s too strong to call it a ‘propaganda campaign’ against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. The Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policy making, and neither necessarily has been the Chicago Public Schools. What that means then is that as we try to resuscitate this notion that we’re all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking what are the delivery systems that are effective and meet people where they live…

I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure everybody’s got a shot.

That sounds… perfectly reasonable? And consistent with what Barack Obama has been saying all along? No matter. Republicans have simply picked out a single word — “redistribution” — and are now pretending that the 1998 audio is just as damning as Mitt Romney’s truly remarkable disdain for 47% of the American population (double-disdain if you happen to be Latino as well). Mitt Romney quickly issued a statement to Fox News:

We have two very different views about America. The president’s view is one of a larger government. There’s a tape just came out today with the president saying he likes redistribution. I disagree.

Naturally, Fox News and other conservative media have been quick to draw comparisons. Even the Los Angeles Times is now actually asking the question: Is the “redistribution” audio Obama’s own 47%? 

Spoiler alert: The answer is no.  Definitely, unequivocally no.

Mitt Romney said that the people who do not pay federal income taxes (but do, for the most part, pay state taxes and federal witholding) see themselves as hopelessly entitled “victims” who are incapable of taking responsibility for themselves — people such as military personnel, the elderly, and the working poor. He  stated that he is giving up on ever getting the vote of 47% of the American public not because these people disagree with him on policy, but because there is something fundamentally wrong with them as human beings. Barack Obama said he wants to facilitate a limited amount of redistribution to allow everyone the opportunity to succeed, which is something that nearly every government in the world does to some extent, including the United States government under the Republicans’ own leadership through the Earned Income Tax Credit, among other measures. So no, these two statements are not even remotely equivalent, no matter how many times Republicans mention them in the same breath.


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11 Responses to A Remarkable False Equivalence: No, Obama’s “Redistribution” Remark Is Not a “47%” Moment

  1. Ted Larsen



    Jon Stewart did a great take on this.

  2. Tracey


    I actually heard one of our local conservative talk radio stations pick up on this quote (I tuned in to hear the Phillies game, and I didn't know that night's game was rained out). They played the entire quote in context, and I kept waiting for the smoking gun… and there wasn't one. Even the conservative radio host seemed at a loss to find a problem with it. He finally settled on, "wow, that was really boring, wasn't it?"

    • Linda (The Daily Dolt)

      Linda the Dolt


      Gotcha!! You gave a slightly boring speech 14 years ago. Mitt Romney is now automatically president.

  3. Richard


    Looking back at history, I believe we learned that Americans pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Individualism. And as individuals advanced, they brought many others along with them. As every great entrepeneur created, they caused there to be a path that many others advanced along also. Not everyone could follow, but many who were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time advanced. And not merely good fortune, but hard workers have always been able to put themselves in the right spot to advance.

    That's America, not a place where if I work hard then I am forced by the government to give a healthy portion of what I have created to those who do not create. Is that the new philosophy "I am, so you must make sure I can live here"?

    Let's look at all examples of countries that have adopted the tenets of socialism, redistribution. Every one has become a totalitarian state (to make sure they have enough for everyone) or failed (or is failing – Europe). Not one has been able to sustain a high standard of living as we have the chance to do.

    Personally I believe that if you want to live in a redistribution state, a socialist state, you have that right to. Move to one. Let those of us who want to live in free state live here. People all over the world want to move here because we are the land of opportunity, not the land of free handouts. Then they get here and realize they don't have to work. If they wait, it will be redistributed to them.

    BTW, Jon Stewart is not a lover of this country, despite what he may say. His words & actions speak loud and clear, he has no positive suggestions to make, only negative words and thoughts. My guess is even he will not be happy when the government storm troopers break down his door and carry him away. Why do I think that might happen some day? Well let's see, now if one does not have health insurance, he/she can be fined. The next step would be jail time, and that's when the government comes and carries you away. See how close it is? So, Ted, Tracey and Linda, laugh and smirk today, because you won't in the future. Unless you want to have the government mandate what you do with your paychecks. I for one do not wish a bureaucrat telling me if I can have enough paper to wipe my !!!

    • Joseph Hooper


      What about Canada? You know, the 'socialist' country to the north that has universal health care and recognizes homosexual marriage? Also known as a country with incredibly strict bank regulations that COMPLETELY avoided economic collapse?

      Canada is in very good shape economically and yet is 'socialist' as you put it. It's not a totalitarian state either. The next time you want to pat your back with your stupid falsehoods, I recommend you NOT have a living, breathing contradiction just to the north.

  4. ron



    Man you need to move to a mountain or something and relax. Just because you believe something doesn't make it true. if your going to post a book a least don't make things up.

  5. Fool Me Once


    Hmmm, time for a fact check – seems like we've been examining the wrong quote. Here it is from Chicago public radio in 2001 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsapJii1rMY here transcribed, in the words of the current war monger in chief, himself:

    "The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society… and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that."

    I'm voting for Gary Johnson – tired of the redistribution of wealth to the Military Industrial Complex, and the Banksters who control our economy.

  6. Regina Hughes


    Fool Me Once

    Let's just all agree your a fool

    Read the context…..obviously the redistributed wealth that went toward your education was a total waste

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