Henry Olsen on Mitt’s phony (and harmful) maker-taker dichotomy

by Ryan Streeter on September 20, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

I didn’t get around to reading Henry Olsen’s excellent Washington Post column on Mitt Romney’s 47% statement until today. It’s worth reading the whole thing. Henry says:

In Reagan’s view, ordinary people were capable of greatness. There was Lenny Skutnik, who plunged from obscurity into the icy waters of the Potomac to save passengers from a downed flight. There were ordinary GI Joes whose courage on the beaches of Normandy (or, today, in the valleys of Afghanistan) protect civilization.

It wasn’t so long ago that mainstream conservatism represented these values. We indexed income brackets and personal exemptions to inflation in the early 1980s to protect middle- and low-income families. Conservatives created the child tax credit in 1997 and expanded it in 2001 to reduce the tax burden for parents. In the past decade, we championed a flat tax that contained a generous exemption for a family of four, precisely so those least able to pay would not be forced to.

I believe the mainstream conservative still believes in these things. But when Romney divides the world into makers and takers and presumes that our ability to pay federal income tax is a measure of which group we belong to, he sends a different message.