VIDEO: Paul Ryan’s Version of “47 Percent”—the “Takers” vs. the “Makers”

In rarely seen footage, Romney’s running mate warns about “dependent” Americans who are “takers,” not “makers.”

 

Mitt Romney’s “47 percent,” meet Paul Ryan’s “takers.”

Romney is finally backing off his controversial comments, but the theme that the nation is divided into makers and government-dependent takers is one of long standing for both Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The GOP vice presidential candidate has repeatedly made statements that suggest he sees America in Ayn Randian terms—that many citizens are just takers, parasites who leech off productive citizens, the makers. As this collection of rarely seen videos shows, this has been a recurrent talking point for Ryan in small gatherings for years.

“Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes,” he said on the June 2010 edition of Washington Watch. “So we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers.” By November 2011, in an address he gave at an American Spectator event, Ryan put the number of takers at 30 percent. (That remark was first reported by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post.)

Ryan has also warned about President Barack Obama creating “more of a permanent class of government dependents”—language that echoes Romney’s take on the “47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

As you can see in this series of charts, “government dependents” aren’t who you necessarily think they are. Many people who don’t pay federal income taxes are superrich or well off. Another 60 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax are working; they just don’t make enough money to owe taxes. Most of the rest are retired folks, students, and members of the military serving in combat zones.

Full original videos posted by YouTube users (in order of clip appearance):

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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