The Bubble Boy Does it Again

Every time Romney tries to prove he’s “one of us” he just digs himself into a deeper hole. It’s pretty obvious the man discovers middle class Americans in the same way a near-sighted Anthropologist studies primative tribes from the safety of a duck blind.

In an interview with ABC, Mitt Romney offered his definition of the middle class. “Middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” he said.

Who knows what “middle class” really means. It’s more of a feeling than a statistical definition. But as a matter of arithmetic, it doesn’t make much sense to think of people earning $200,000 as being in the middle of anything, except the top decile of earners. Using data from the Tax Policy Center 2012 projected distribution, here’s a look at the share of American tax units that make less than $200,000. The big blue slice is Romney’s definition of middle class.
Screen Shot 2012-09-14 at 12.52.18 PM.png

This is a reminder of the “college days” struggles of Mitt and Ann. We all were supposed to recognize our own experience in this.

Mitt Romney is going around saying that he made all his money himself, aside from a loan from his dad to buy his first house.

Journalists who buy that have short memories. I was living in Massachusetts when Romney first ran for the Senate, and remembered this interview with Ann Romney in the Boston Globe (by Jack Thomas, October 20, 1994; the abstract is here; the full text costs $4.95). Of her student days with Mitt at BYU, Ann said:

“They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income.

“It was tiny. And I didn’t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting.

“We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.

“The stock came from Mitt’s father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year — it wasn’t much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.

“Mitt and I walked to class together, shared housekeeping, had a lot of pasta and tuna fish and learned hard lessons.

“We had our first child in that tiny apartment. We couldn’t afford a desk, so we used a door propped on sawhorses in our bedroom. It was a big door, so we could study on it together. And we bought a portable crib, took the legs off and put it on the desk while we studied. I had a baby sitter during class time, but otherwise, I’d hold my son on my lap while I studied.

“The funny thing is that I never expected help. My father had become wealthy through hard work, as did Mitt’s father, but I never expected our parents to take care of us. They’d visit, laugh and say, `We can’t believe you guys are living like this.’ They’d take us out to dinner, have a good time, then leave.

“We stayed till Mitt graduated in 1971, and when he was accepted at Harvard Law, we came east. He was also accepted at Harvard Business School as part of a joint program that admits 25 a year, so he was getting degrees from Harvard Law and Business schools at the same time.

“Remember, we’d been paying $62 a month rent, but here, rents were $400, and for a dump. This is when we took the now-famous loan that Mitt talks about from his father and bought a $42,000 home in Belmont, and you know? The mortgage payment was less than rent. Mitt saw that the Boston market was behind Chicago, LA and New York. We stayed there seven years and sold it for $90,000, so we not only stayed for free, we made money. As I said, Mitt’s very bright.

“Another son came along 18 months later, although we waited four years to have the third, because Mitt was still in school and we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining. No, I did not work. Mitt thought it was important for me to stay home with the children, and I was delighted.

“Right after Mitt graduated in 1975, we had our third boy and it was about the time Mitt’s first paycheck came along. So, we were married a long time before we had any income, about five years as struggling students. …

“Now, every once in a while, we say if things get rough, we can go back to a $62-a-month apartment and be happy. All we need is each other and a little corner and we’ll be fine.”

Ann was widely mocked for this at the time. I don’t dissent from the mockery. Her idea of her and Mitt facing “not easy years,” having “no income,” “living on the edge” as “struggling students,” was that the couple had had to face college with only sale of stock to sustain them. By Ann’s own account, the stock amounted to “a few thousand” dollars when bought, but it had gone up by a factor of sixteen. So let’s conservatively say that they got through five years as students—neither one of them working—only by “chipping away at” assets of $60,000 in 1969 dollars (about $377,000 today).

Both my husband and I worked full time and went to school full time during all of our degrees.  My husband had a scholarship for tuition based on a perfect SAT score.  We paid for my tuition by hawking our NU football tickets to our barber.  I can tell you with certainty that neither of us had investments other than an Air Force Credit Union savings account held by my husband.  Neither of our dads bought us a house either.

I still remember the shocked look on Perry’s face when he was offered a $10,000 bet at one of the primary debates. Here’s a very effective Obama ad.

Here’s a bit more on the Romney Stephanapolous interview.

Romney’s comments came an interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America.’’

‘‘No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,’’ Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.

‘‘Is $100,000 middle income?’’ Stephanopoulos asked.

‘‘No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,’’ Romney responded.

His campaign later clarified that Romney was referencing household income, not individual income.

The Census Bureau reported this week that the median household income — the midpoint for the nation — is just over $50,000.

Obama wants to extend Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $250,000, while Romney wants to extend the tax cuts for everyone.

Romney has not explained how he would keep his plan from growing the nation’s deficit.

This is another one of those examples where I think a University should be able to recall a student’s diploma and degree on the basis that they obviously learned nothing.

97 Comments on “The Bubble Boy Does it Again”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    Having access to $60K during the 70’s would have happened only to the child/children of the upper crust. She has no clue how the majority of young adults were living during that time. Poor Rainbow Brite is breaking my damn heart.

    • dakinikat says:

      There’s a new hashtag on Twitter that’s pretty fun to read:

      “I have met many pleasing humans in the last sun cycle. They amuse me greatly” #AlienMitt

    • NW Luna says:

      he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year — it wasn’t much, a few thousand…

      A “few thousand” back then! The mind boggles at the largesse. Oh that everyone had such a dad to hand out birthday money.

    • janey says:

      One thing she is not mentioning is that money went farther back then. In 1968 we bought a house for 13 thou, a nice place. the monthly mortgage payment was $101. a month’s groceries could be less than a week’s cost today. And you will notice Mitt did not have a part time job, so they must have been pretty comfortable. And, of course, their parents would not have let them go hungry.

  2. mablue2 says:

    Go watch MSNBC right now. They are showing the arrival of the 4 fallen from Lybia.
    Extemely moving.

  3. mablue2 says:

    The speeches were really dignified. You could feel that these are terrible times for all.

  4. RalphB says:

    The whole thing at Andrews was very well done, emotional but appropriate. I’m proud of them all.

  5. Seriously says:

    Mitt just told this weird story about how he went to the airport to claim the remains of a soldier from Mass while he was Governor. His point seemed to be that he can do things like this too. It was really strange and his affect was so detached to the point of chipperness.

  6. RalphB says:

    TPM: From a Foreign Service Officer …

    It’s probably not a surprise. But can I just say that if Mitt Romney wins in November, he is going to have a very chilly reception from his employees every time he goes abroad? I don’t think I can quite state the rage we’re all feeling towards him.

    Sounds like I would expect considering Mitt’s attempted political profiteering off the death of one of their own.

  7. RalphB says:

    Another reason to hope for an Obama win. What these people don’t recognize is the most offensive part of the current GOP is them!

    Bryan Fischer: Today’s GOP Will Be ‘Dead’ If Romney Loses

    A Barack Obama win in November will lead to a meltdown within the Republican Party, said Bryan Fischer, an influential official at the American Family Association. And he isn’t too optimistic about Mitt Romney’s chances.

    “If Barack Obama wins this election the Republican Party as we know it is finished, it is dead, it is toast — you can stick a fork in it,” he told TPM Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. “And conservatives, grassroots conservatives, are either going to start a third party or they are going to launch a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”

    • ecocatwoman says:

      The Republican Party, as most of us KNEW it, died a long time ago. I’d say circa Raygun. Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Dole, Dirksen, Hatfield, John Warner, William Cohen just to name a few who would be labeled RINOs now & drummed out of town. Teabaggers, fundies & neo-cons have taken over and run everyone off that have even thought the word compromise.

      Someone on TV last night said something I hadn’t heard before (apparently I miss a lot) – Republicans don’t fall in love, they fall in line.

    • bostonboomer says:

      If only it would die! The world could only be better off.

  8. pdgrey says:

    The picture alone is worth the click. H/T Sisie. It really is David Brooks in the early years.

  9. pdgrey says:

    Did anyone see Martin Bashir today? At the end when he just speaks, it was just great. He read the speech of a commander to troops going into Iraq. I don’t know how to find just the ending. If someone does, you guys need to see it.

    • RalphB says:

      Now they’ve went too far and attacked a business. Mitt should be up in arms.

      — In Lebanon, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in the northern city of Tripoli, where they attacked and burned down a KFC restaurant.

  10. RalphB says:

    Juan Cole’s analysis of events.

    Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt’s Morsi Folds

  11. bostonboomer says:

    This post at Balloon Juice mocking Romney’s ABC interview is hilarious.

  12. ecocatwoman says:

    Anyone else hear Rombot’s latest? He was asked his biggest concern about the debates. He said that President Obama has a tendency not to tell the truth. Another pot/kettle moment. Damn to have been the person asking that question. After laughing so hard that I would’ve wet my pants, I would say, “why Mr. Romney, that’s like the pot calling the kettle black.” And then I would be fired.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    A Wisconsin judge has struck down the law that limited collective bargaining rights for public workers.

  14. pdgrey says:

    I would like to know what the hell Benjamin Netanyahu is doing on Meet the press?

  15. pdgrey says:

    Well staying on TPM, I have never heard of this asshole, but i don’t run in a crazy right-wing crowd.

    • pdgrey says:

      This was my favorite comment.
      Thomas • 11 minutes ago

      it’s like never-was-funny Dennis Miller having to become a “conservative” so he could find an audience dumb enough to think he was funny. Con artists are always drawn to the simpletons.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ve never heard of him.

      • pdgrey says:

        Another asshole shuckster that spoke at the voter’s value summit. He say’s he is a reformed terrorist.

    • dakinikat says:

      There is a sucker born every minute except in the evangelical crowd … they are all suckers

    • ecocatwoman says:

      “When the president bowed before the King of Islam and bowed his knees

      So, when American presidents bow to Queen Elizabeth, does that mean each of them were/are under the authority of the Queen? And since when is Saudi’s king, the king of Islam?

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “Saleem has been a regular in evangelical circles for the last several years telling his story about how he was a violent terrorist who renounced his wicked ways for Christ.”

      Brghahahahahahahhaha! There’s no business, like show business, there’s no business I know!!!! He says he found “jesus”. Nothing like jesus to pull you out of the jihadist movement an onto the stage of the Value Voters Summit. Well, jesus and a bunch of money. I wonder what this guys speaking fee is, $10k, $20k? Maybe Mitt transferred some of Daddy’s stock to him. Goddam I thought I was gullible, but anyone who buys that story has moved way past gullible into idiot terrority.

  16. pdgrey says:

    Here is a comment i stand with.

    “respect for traditional values”

    In other words, continued support for racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and ethnic, cultural and religious-based bigotry, exploitation of workers, scapegoating of the poor and needy, enrichment and advancement of the warmongers and war profiteers…and so on and so on? Yeah, uh…no thanks.

  17. Linda C says:

    Just few thousand or( $ 3000.00 for the sake of argument) in 1968 equals $19,860.25 in today’s money. Pretty nice for Willard’s yearly “birthday money”. Thanks Dad

    I don’t remember who said it about Romney but it is true. Mitt Romney is the guy who was born on third base. He stood up and believed he hit a triple.

    • pdgrey says:

      That was Gov. Ann Richards of Texas she also said George (1stBush) was born with a silver foot in his mouth. God i miss her.

  18. pdgrey says:
    Who the hell is this this guy? Funny comment.
    This must’ve been who Clint Eastwood was talking about when he said that there were plenty of conservatives in Hollywood…. ;>