A 14-year-old video of President Barack Obama promoted by the Romney campaign this week over a comment about “redistribution” also features the president pushing for marketplace “competition” and market-driven “innovation,” according to a complete record of his speech obtained by NBC News.
The president’s spokespeople have since explained that the speech was about using city government resources in a way that’s more fair and efficient, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has zeroed in on the word “redistribution,” and appears to have refocused his whole campaign squarely upon these few seconds of carefully edited audio.
“Frankly, we have two very different views about America,” Romney told Fox News on Tuesday. “The president’s view is one of a larger government. There’s a tape that just came out today where the president is saying he likes redistribution. I disagree.”
In footage promoted by the Romney campaign and Fox News, taken from a public speech then-State Senator Obama gave at Loyola University in Chicago, the president explains: “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”
But that’s not all he said. In a portion of the footage that was edited out, Obama continues: “How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities?”
Conservative outrage over the footage is not dissimilar from Obama’s claim that business owners did not build the roads or the public infrastructure. Republicans took careful edits of his comments to make him sound like he was telling business owners that they did not build their own companies, although greater context reveals that’s not what he said. The clip ultimately became a centerpiece in Romney’s ads and even the theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
In the wake of his own scandal-making video, Romney urged the video’s source to release his full comments. When Mother Jones magazine complied, the scandal only got worse, engulfing the media’s national political discussion going on four days now.
“These are people who pay no income tax,” Romney said at a private fundraiser in May, apparently filmed by a member of the wait staff. “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that is what they sell every four years. And so my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Despite Romney’s comments, The Washington Post pointed out that he’s also repeatedly insisted that he wants to keep virtually every entitlement program, albeit with as-yet-undeclared cuts, and vows to continue America’s progressive tax structure. He’s also put forward a tax plan that, according to the Tax Policy Center, would grow the deficit, cut the burden for the wealthiest Americans and raise the burden on the poor and middle class.
Individuals who do not pay income tax do pay other taxes, including sales tax, payroll tax and Medicare tax, which usually amounts to a greater share than income taxes. Additionally, only about 37 percent of Americans receive Social Security, Medicare or food stamps, and the vast majority are children, senior citizens or students, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
This video is from NBC News, broadcast Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.