Second-time Republican MNCD7 sacrificial lamb Lee Byberg is trolling for his own Franson-esque fifteen minutes of fame by standing in solidarity with Mitt Romney's remarks that 47 percent of Americans.
Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Scheck reports in Congressional candidate Byberg backs Romney on 47 percent claim:
Lee Byberg, the Republican candidate in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, is embracing Republican Mitt Romney's comments at a private fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans 'believe they are victims' and are entitled to help from the government that permeates their lives.
Romney's remarks were recorded without his knowledge and were first reported by Mother Jones Magazine. At a hastily called news conference on Monday night, Romney didn't back off the comments but said they were made "off the cuff" and weren't "elegantly stated." The comments were widely criticized by the Obama campaign, Democrats and several Republicans, among others.
But Byberg, who is challenging DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, announced his support for Romney's comments.
"Romney was merely stating the obvious," Byberg said in a statement. He added that he believed any criticism of Romney "missed the point." . . .
Scheck notes that Byberg lost to Peterson by nearly 18 percent in 2010. On September 5, DLonline (Detriot Lakes) reported about the campaign in Byberg homes in on Collin Peterson; on September 14, Hot Dish Politics at the Strib reported in "God Bless the USA" singer will join 7th District Republican candidate for event:
. . .Byberg's campaign might need the lift. As of his last campaign finance report, he had $91,921 cash on hand and $120,370 in debt. By contrast, Peterson had $799,953 and no [debt].
That's about it as far as recent news coverage goes--so Byberg is tying his wagon to Romney's star. It's not a crowded limelight: Huffington Post reports that many Republican Candidates Signal Concern On Mitt Romney Video Comments.
USA Today's Gregory Korte answers the question Who are the 47%?:
Who are the 47%? The Tax Policy Center’s Donald Marron said they fall into three main groups:
The working poor. The earned income tax credit and the child credit can help families making $50,000 or more pay no taxes or get money back. About 60% of those not paying income taxes do contribute to payroll taxes — which means they must have some source of earned income.
The elderly. An increased standard deduction for those over 65, and an exemption on part of Social Security earnings, means that many older Americans pay no income taxes — even though most of them paid into the system through decades of paying taxes.
The low-income. A family of four claiming only the standard deduction and personal exemptions pays no federal income tax on its first $27,000 of income.
But not all non-taxpayers fit into those categories. Even the ultra-wealthy can avoid paying taxes — for example, if their income comes from tax-exempt bonds. Tax Policy Center data show that perhaps 24,000 of the top 1% of earners pay no federal income taxes.
There's also the question of who gets "government benefits":
How many Americans get government assistance? Using different methods and different definitions of entitlements, estimates vary from 37% (the liberal CBPP) to 41% (the conservative Heritage Foundation) to 49% (the Wall Street Journal).
Greenstein said it’s a mistake to use those figures to divide Americans into those who contribute and those who do not. Many of today’s “takers” were yesterday’s “makers,” he said.
Social Security and Medicare are the most expensive entitlements. “If you don’t have a sufficient work history, you’re not eligible.”
And then there's the other part. Romney implies that anyone receiving assistance wouldn't vote for him (and with the knowledge of his attitude spreading perhaps that will veer toward a self-fulfilling prophecy) but polling doesn't bear him out:
And Romney was wrong to suggest that those 47% support his opponent “no matter what.” Gallup’s daily tracking poll shows that a third of those with incomes less than $24,000 support Romney, and about half of retirement-age voters do. Add those two groups together, and Obama has a slight lead, 49% to 43%, Gallup pollster Frank Newport says.
So what's the math here in the Seventh? The U.S. Census's Factfinder site contains a file for the district of economic characteristics drawn from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. Here's some of the relevant data (though not matched with taxpayer status):
|INCOME AND BENEFITS (IN 2010 INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS)|
|Less than $10,000||17,040||+/-673||6.7%||+/-0.3|
|$10,000 to $14,999||16,935||+/-642||6.6%||+/-0.2|
|$15,000 to $24,999||30,663||+/-735||12.0%||+/-0.3|
|$25,000 to $34,999||29,906||+/-792||11.7%||+/-0.3|
|$35,000 to $49,999||40,979||+/-826||16.1%||+/-0.3|
|$50,000 to $74,999||54,321||+/-1,033||21.3%||+/-0.4|
|$75,000 to $99,999||33,030||+/-740||13.0%||+/-0.3|
|$100,000 to $149,999||22,467||+/-649||8.8%||+/-0.3|
|$150,000 to $199,999||5,147||+/-324||2.0%||+/-0.1|
|$200,000 or more||4,226||+/-280||1.7%||+/-0.1|
|Median household income (dollars)||46,732||+/-399||(X)||(X)|
|Mean household income (dollars)||57,506||+/-389||(X)||(X)|
|Mean earnings (dollars)||57,245||+/-400||(X)||(X)|
|With Social Security||81,595||+/-777||32.0%||+/-0.3|
|Mean Social Security income (dollars)||14,705||+/-106||(X)||(X)|
|With retirement income||38,080||+/-740||15.0%||+/-0.3|
|Mean retirement income (dollars)||18,344||+/-352||(X)||(X)|
|With Supplemental Security Income||7,529||+/-385||3.0%||+/-0.2|
|Mean Supplemental Security Income (dollars)||8,225||+/-248||(X)||(X)|
|With cash public assistance income||8,491||+/-467||3.3%||+/-0.2|
|Mean cash public assistance income (dollars)||2,576||+/-216||(X)||(X)|
|With Food Stamp/SNAP benefits in the past 12 months||17,087||+/-669||6.7%||+/-0.3|
How will this stand play out? Bluestem thinks that Byberg may ride Kurt Bills' coattails, should Bills be able to solidify the activist base after losing CD7 to challenger David Carlson last month. But then, there's always that concert with Lee Greenwood--in Mary Franson's Alexandria.
Of course, Byberg's thinking is a bit different than the deep social contract philosophy shared by Franson in her famous video when she compared feeding poor people with food support to feeding wild animals. Byberg wants poor folks and those living on Social Security without additional retirement to feed the beast. MPR quotes Byberg:
"We have almost half of the population that is not paying federal income taxes. So we are depriving from them the opportunity to feel that they are part of what it takes to fund a nation," Byberg said. "That is not a good thing."
What a feel good moment that would be, Lee!
Photo: Lee Byberg and a senior citizen. Is she one of the moochers in the 47%?