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Dear Mr. Romney, I Want More Free Stuff From the Government | The Nation

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Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener

Politics and pop, past and present.

Dear Mr. Romney, I Want More Free Stuff From the Government

Dear Mr. Romney, I was hoping you could tell me how to get more free stuff from the government, and I see that you took up that question after your speech to the NAACP last week. You were speaking to a group of white people in Hamilton, Montana, and you told them that, at the NAACP, you had said that you were “going to get rid of Obamacare.” You said that they “weren’t happy” about that. And you said that if people want “more free stuff” from “the government,” they should “go vote for the other guy.”

Well, I want more free stuff from the government, but, actually, if you want free stuff from Obama, you’d be better off as a banker than as a black person.

Maybe you heard that Obama’s TARP and stimulus programs already gave $4.5 trillion in bailout money to the big banks and investment houses on Wall Street. There’s a lot more if you count loan guarantees and emergency lending from the Federal Reserve.

If I had gotten any of that free stuff, like your friends on Wall Street did, I could have done what they did—use those public funds to pay myself really well.

Some of your friends are praising you for your “straight talk” to the NAACP, for having the courage of your convictions and letting the chips fall where they may. But actually you didn’t tell the black people they should vote for the other guy because they want free stuff. Instead, you told a white audience afterwards that’s what black people should do.

Some people, like Matt Taibbi at RollingStone.com, thought your post-NAACP remarks were “shockingly offensive” and “cynically furthering dangerous and irresponsible stereotypes in order to advance some harebrained electoral ploy involving white conservative voters.” I can see his point.

But at the Center for the Study of Mitt Romney, they found that this isn’t the first time you said that people who want “free stuff” from the government should “vote for the other guy.” (Actually it was Rachel Maddow who found this.)

A few months ago, Rachel reported, you responded to questions about contraception access by saying, “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for, vote for the other guy.” You also complained that Obama was trying to buy students’ political support by offering them “free stuff.”

Rachel thought she could see a pattern here: “If you’re a woman who wants access to preventive care you might not otherwise be able to afford, Romney sees you as wanting ‘free stuff.’ If you’re a young student who can’t afford higher-ed tuition, Romney assumes you expect ‘free stuff.’ And if you’re a black person who wants your family to have access to affordable healthcare, Romney thinks you too are just looking for “free stuff.”

Of course, there’s another way to look at all this. You could say we are taking on the responsibility to see that everyone gets decent medical care, whether or not they can afford it. We want our friends and family and neighbors and co-workers who are uninsured or underinsured to be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick. We want the same thing even for people we don’t know. That’s the way minister Leslie Watson Malachi of People for the American Way explained it.

One other thing—it’s not just black people who will benefit from Obamacare. Most of the beneficiaries will be white—just in case the white people Hamiltion, Montana, got the wrong impression from your speech.

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