Romney’s Campaign Journal: `Government-Centered Society’

Photograph by Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

A post card with the words "Thank you for your support" at a donor's table as Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising event in Atlanta, on Sept. 19, 2012.

Mitt Romney has set out to recast the argument he was making at a closed-door fundraiser in May — talking about that 47 percent of Americans who are “victims” of government dependency — in a more palatable presentation.

Romney, at an open-door fundraiser in Atlanta today, was talking about President Barack Obama’s ““government-centered society” and the Democrat’s desire for a “redistribution” of wealth. He called the choice in this election one between a government-dependent nation and free enterprise.

He essentially was giving the speech that the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal today said he should be giving:

“One tragedy of the Obama presidency is how many more Americans have become dependent on the government,” the Journal’s editorial prescription reads. “I know it’s not their fault. Most want to be self-sufficient.”

Romney has rolled out a message that he has admitted to delivering in an “inelegant” fashion at a May 17 fundraising dinner, a secretly made videotape of that appearance going viral on Web sites this week.

Obama “really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society,” Romney said today. “I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America.”

The Journal’s editorial, presenting its argument as a leaked draft of remarks that Romney might have delivered at that May fundraiser in Boca Raton and suggesting that “maybe he’ll deliver them some time before Election Day,” wrote today:

“We want a society in which one person’s success lifts everyone else. The job of government is to create the incentives and opportunities so everyone can become a maker. But too often government wants to take more from Americans so it can make more Americans dependent on government. That’s when we lose our way.”

Romney said today:

“I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all.”

The candidate seized on a staple of his campaign against Obama in recent months — Obama’s remark that people successful in business didn’t get there without the support of government, the roads, the schools and the rest.

“This idea of redistribution follows from the idea that if you have a business you didn’t build it, someone else did that,” Romney said today. “It’s the same concept. That see, government is responsible for everything that’s gone on here. And therefore government can take and give as it chooses. It’s an entirely foreign concept that will not work, that has not worked.

“That has never worked anywhere in the world,” Romney said. “And what we have to do in America is not to make us more like Europe, but to make America more like America…. Free people, not told what to do, but allowed to do what they as free individuals could do, that free people and free enterprises would build a stronger nation than the government-dominated society.

“Look around the world,” Romney said. “There are rich people in almost every nation in the world. The rich do pretty well, regardless of the circumstance or the system. The people who get crushed by bad economic policies like the ones we’re seeing unfolded before us in Washington, the people who get crushed are the middle class. Under this president, a record number of people have fallen into poverty.”

The Journal, noting 46 million Americans on food stamps, 40 percent of the unemployed out of work for six months or more, wrote: “This is a national scandal. Not because those fellow Americans are free-loaders, but because they aren’t able to get a good job that pays enough to be self-sufficient.”

“I want Americans to be less dependent on government not because it costs too much,” the Journal prescription reads. “I want Americans to be independent so they can realize the pride of accomplishment and the dignity of work and contribute their God-given talents to build a better country.”

“This is how America works,” Romney concluded in his remarks today. “It does not work by a government saying, become dependent on government. Become dependent upon redistribution. That will kill the American entrepreneurship that’s lifted our economy over the years. The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class? I do. He does. The question is who can help the poor and the middle class? I can! He can’t!”

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