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The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Mike Sweet column

Mike Sweet, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

‘Redistribution” is the latest buzz word Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supporters are slinging around the airwaves hoping it will stick in undecided voters’ craws.

Romney is on the defensive, staggering like a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robot from the politically devastating confirmation that he disdains the 47 percent of Americans he says are a burden to society and to people like him because they are addicted to government largess. Handouts to which they feel entitled, including – Egads! – food and shelter and the like.

Romney, of course, excludes himself from the list of those benefitting from tax money.

He belongs to an ungrateful and intellectually dishonest clique of deep-pocketed sympathizers that includes defense contractors and the barons of the energy and investment banking cartels. They and their stockholders, who include Romney, benefit mightily from direct federal payments and/or generous tax laws to which they believe just as ardently they are entitled.

It’s hypocritical and yet somehow predictable that Romney and his followers begrudge a veteran his or her disability check, an unemployed mother or father food stamps to feed their family, or a low-interest school loan that will make a citizen more productive.

A wounded Romney is desperate to counter a growing punitive voter backlash over the one honest speech he’s given. He’s trying to redeem himself by painting President Barack Obama as a Marxist-Leninist, a man who, in Romneyworld would, if re-elected, sell his country to the terrorists and expropriate yet more money from working Americans and the entrepreneurial class to pay for the freeloaders suckling at the federal teat.

Romney is his own favorite constituent. Given his situation as an unemployed senior citizen with a quarter billion dollar trust account, Romney surely fears Obama’s promise to try to raise the already modest taxes that Romney and other multi-millionaires pay.

In Romney’s case, his investment income is unearned under the law. So not only is the tax rate on that income lower than most working people face, it’s also exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes. Freeloading isn’t just for the poor, after all, but it is for them to take the blame.

Plenty of Americans are too smart to buy Romney’s vain attempt to change the subject. Though plainly not all see their king has no clothes (the Fox News staff fits that category, to its perpetual shame).

It was 14 years ago that Obama said he believes in redistribution of income “at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot…” Here everyone gets to fill in the blank: A shot at what? – an education; a decent job; food; a public street that leads to work or school or church; a roof that’s not a highway overpass; medical care; cops on the beat; fire trucks in the firehouse; air traffic controllers in the towers? The list of basic human needs and aspirations that citizen taxpayers have agreed their government should provide – and they pay for – willingly if not gladly – is almost infinite.

Obama knows what he said. He still believes government has a nobler purpose than enriching those who control it.

People with acute hearing and reasoning skills understand the then-state legislator from Illinois was talking about public-private cooperation that all political parties use and abuse, regardless of and sometimes because of conflicting ideologies.

That cooperation can include the giveaways that Lee County and the state of Iowa and its pro-Romney Republican governor are giving to a private foreign corporation to build a fertilizer plant near Wever that will create 165 jobs but generate no corporate tax revenues to Iowa’s citizens.

At the same time, Romney Republicans in Congress have refused to renew the wind energy tax credit that will cost Lee County nearly 700 jobs as German-based Siemens deals with an uncertain future.

In part due to Republicans’ sellout to coal, oil and natural gas corporations, l eaving producers of infinitely cleaner, renewable and safer wind and solar power to twist in the wind. That’s wind and sun in which President Obama is not alone in seeing a better, more prosperous future for the country whose massive social and economic problems he inherited from a failed Republican administration.

I was reminded the other day by people smarter than I that civilization, by definition, is and always has been about redistributing everything that arises from human endeavors. It’s how things work: from hard-earned paychecks and unearned incomes that pay the mortgage, gas and car payments; for groceries, a restaurant meal, the tithe to a church; for health care and for schooling. Right on through the sums of money which, as individuals but also interdependent human beings, we have agreed it is right and just and necessary to pay in the form of taxes for safety nets like Social Security and veterans benefits and yes, medical care and roads and warplanes and free lunches for poor school children.

But also to build roads and infrastructure, and pay for scientific research that benefits the private sector, their stockholders, their employees and ultimately their customers they all need to survive.

Nobody builds anything alone or for free, least of all the Mitt Romneys of this world. Even he was a redistributor of capital at Bain, though most of it trickled up not down.

Someone who dares to be president should know all that. As should those who vote.

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