[dropcap]G[/dropcap]IVE Bob Beauprez credit. He did his bit. He saved the Colorado Republican Party from Tom Tancredo.
But now he faces an even tougher task. He has to try to save the party from himself.
You’ve seen the news by now. Beauprez begins his campaign for governor by having to explain his Romney-like “47 percent” quote from back in 2010. It’s all there on the YouTube. It’s vintage Beauprez from his Wilderness Years period, in which he spent his time brooding about the 17-point loss to Bill Ritter and plotting his comeback while spouting the latest in right-wing talking points.
If it wasn’t “creeping Sharia” or Barack Obama and the coming “civil war,” it was the 47 percent who don’t pay federal income taxes and who are “perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill.”
[pullquote]There’s a difference between wanting to see people prosper and saying, as Beauprez did, that nearly half of America is happily dependent on government handouts.[/pullquote]
At least Romney made his comments in what he thought was a private setting. Beauprez was out there in the open, talking to the Rotary Club about the 47 percent. He would go on to say what Republicans were saying back in the day – that the old safety net was nothing more than a Democratic plot. You get people hooked on Paul Ryan’s hammock, the theory goes, and you’ve won their vote forever.
Beauprez put it this way: “I submit to you that there is a political strategy to get slightly over half and have a permanent ruling political majority by keeping over half of the population dependent on the largesse of government that somebody else is paying for.”
It’s an ugly charge and, of course, one entirely unsupported by the facts.
Clearly, nearly all the 47 percent who don’t pay federal income taxes pay other taxes. Many of them don’t pay federal income tax because of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program greatly expanded by none other than Ronald Reagan, who called it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
And then you’ve got your seniors and those whose tax load was reduced by the Bush tax cut. They’re not dependent. They work hard, or they have worked hard before retiring, and they just might resent someone like Beauprez telling them otherwise.
You’d think Republicans would be happy to see fewer people having to pay federal taxes. That was Reagan’s point. Back in 1986, the new rules took six million low-income people off the tax rolls. Now, of course, it’s all about the great tax burden facing the rich.
The problem for Beauprez, just as it was for Romney, is that this is all of a piece. The fact that Romney endorsed Beauprez helps make the point. The 47 percent is a misreading — intentional or otherwise — of people who work for lower pay. It’s a naked attempt to suggest that half of America is somehow on the dole.
And here’s what really works against Beauprez: I doubt if anyone is surprised to discover that he actually said it.
This is the same Beauprez who, when he was running for governor the last time, complained about the Mexican government’s slow action by saying, “I’ve vacationed in Mexico before. I know exactly what Mexican time is.” It was, as I wrote at the time, foreign policy as dictated by your travel agent.
It’s the same Beauprez who, during that same unfortunate run, made the unfounded charge on Colorado Matters that 70 percent of African-American pregnancies ended in abortion. It was a figure, he said, he’d heard somewhere.
And now, just as the campaign is getting started, Beauprez is once again on the wrong side of the horse. And who knows what will come next? Democrats wasted no time in getting the 47 percent video to the media, where the Denver Post got the story first. We can expect that there are more stories not unlike this one.
At the time, Beauprez apologized for his Mexican Time comment and his abortion comment. He hasn’t apologized for the 47 percent yet – but my guess is he will. So far, his campaign is trying to talk its way around the quotes, but it’s hard to get past the video.
Still, Beauprez’ campaign manager, Dustin Olson, told the Denver Post: “I don’t see why it would be controversial to want more people to prosper. We should be focused on building up our economy so more people have jobs and prosper. It is a sad state of affairs when people are in an economic situation where they are not able to pay federal income tax.”
OK, you can see the problem. There might be a slight difference between wanting to see people prosper and saying, as Beauprez did, that nearly half of America is happily dependent on government handouts.
Republicans don’t talk so much about the 47 percent anymore. And I doubt you’ll see many of them bravely rushing to Beauprez’ defense.
After all, we’ve seen this from Beauprez before. So keep the video player ready — because we’re bound to need it again.