Mr. Romney was speaking at the (Iowa State) fair’s soapbox Thursday morning, but when it was time for the question-and-answer session, the mood turned heated, with a small group of angry hecklers calling on Mr. Romney to support raising taxes on the wealthy to help fund social entitlement programs.
“We have to make sure that the promises we make in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are promises we can keep, and there are various ways of doing that,” Mr. Romney said. “One is we can raise taxes on people.”
“Corporations!” the protesters shouted, suggesting that Mr. Romney, as president, should raise taxes on large businesses. “Corporations!”
“Corporations are people, my friend,” Mr. Romney responded, as the hecklers shouted back, “No they’re not!”
“Of course they are,” Mr. Romney said, chuckling slightly. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where to do you think it goes?”
When someone in the front row angrily suggested that “it goes in their pockets,” Mr. Romney, becoming increasingly animated, asked: “Whose pockets? People’s pockets!”
Republican candidate MITT ROMNEY.
Mitt’s right, you know? The people people get their minimum wage and — if they’re lucky — benefits, and the corporation people get their millions in profits PLUS their Bush tax cuts.
Republicans — and even some Democrats — think that the Obama administration lives to collect revenue. The truth is closer to the opposite. Senior administration aides view the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as less of an opportunity than a chore. About four-fifths of the cuts go to households making less than $250,000 a year, and they don’t want to raise taxes on those folks. They don’t like the politics of the issue, either. It’s an article of faith among Democratic strategists that debates on taxes inevitably favor Republicans, allowing Democrats to be hammered from the right and undermined from the left. White House aides would rather focus on “win the future” issues like infrastructure, education and energy.
The White House’s strategy in the debt-ceiling negotiations has reflected its ambivalence, with Obama trying to extract either as much revenue as Republicans would allow or as little as Democrats would accept. Obama even offered Boehner a deal in which the Bush tax cuts would be extended right now, so Republicans wouldn’t have to fear a subsequent negotiation in which they lacked leverage. Boehner rejected that deal and, in doing, might have saved the safety net.