Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a hit in the public-opinion polls recently when a magazine published secretly taped comments he made at a fundraiser about people who receive public assistance and don’t pay a federal income tax.
In comments (for which he has since apologized), Romney said of people on public assistance: “[My] job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
A couple of weeks ago, I asked 1st District Republican congressional candidate John Koster what he thought about the Romney comments, which mentioned that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income tax. Koster said Romney was wrong.
“I know what he’s saying, but I think he figured there are people who have paid into Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security … and to just write them off, alienates them. It’s saying, ‘I don’t want to talk to these people,’ ” Koster told me. “I know what he’s saying, but it just came off altogether wrong.”
As it turns out, Koster not only knows what Romney is saying, he addressed the same issue at his own fundraiser last year.
In a video posted on Koster’s campaign website under the headline, “John Koster delivers rousing speech at Christmas Dinner,” Koster told supporters: “It has become a system that punishes those who dare to dream, those who dare to invest, those who dare to work hard or succeed. And it seems to reward the mediocrity, dare I say it, slothfulness, and laziness, of those who choose not to do those things. And, furthermore, it creates a dependency on government programs, even an addiction I can say, by virtue of the sense of entitlement it creates.”
Koster goes on to say that “it’s just not right” that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay a federal income tax. Koster and Romney both used the same figure which apparently was derived from a report from the Tax Policy Center.
Koster is in a tough district. He is trying to please his conservative base, but not be so conservative that socially moderate conservatives in King County suburbs won’t be able to relate. He didn’t sign a no-new-taxes pledge that many conservatives have signed. He’s softened his position on abortion, saying it should be legal if it saves the life of the mother, and he’s backed off on support he showed in 2010 for abolishing the IRS and for the U.S. withdrawing from the United Nations.
The Christmastime tape shows another side of Koster. At one point, he tells the audience that the term “social justice … is nothing more than a feel-good buzzword for the liberal utopian vision of taxation and redistribution of wealth. That’s all it is, plain and simple.”
Romney’s comments “came off as insulting,” said Larry Stickney, Koster’s campaign manager. Stickney stood by what Koster said in his speech. “I think it goes into John’s idea that people need to have some skin in the game, and that’s why he’s for tax reform. You know, everybody pitches in a little bit.”
The entire video is available here.