"I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it."Fresh from telling America that he likes to fire people, Mitt Romney has now underscored how far out of touch he is with the needs and concerns of the 99% of Americans who aren’t as wealthy as him. It has nothing to do with “envy”, and everything to do with a sense of being screwed over by the rich corporate elites.
Mitt Romney, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, in an interview.
The chart above (and apologies—I have no idea where it originally came from; click to embiggen) shows the growth in average after-tax income since 1979 and adjusted for inflation. What it shows is that the folks like Romney in the 1% have done spectacularly well, and the other 99% did not. The lower the incomes, the worse people did, so that the bottom 20% saw basically no income growth at all for three decades, and for two-thirds of that time they were simply trying to get back to where they were in 1979. In stark contrast, folks in the 1% like Romney never actually lost income; their income growth declined in some years, but the income itself nevertheless continued to grow, and far faster than middle income earners.
What all of this means is that average, mainstream Americans see the obscene growth in the wealth of the 1% and they see themselves fighting hard just to stay afloat and not go backwards. They see the Republicans giving the 1% tax breaks and refusing to make them pay their fair share, instead burdening ordinary, mainstream Americans with heavy taxed that hold them back.
Mitt Romney likes to fire people, and as head of vulture firm Bain Capital he did that thousands of times as he destroyed jobs—and lives. So what people feel about the rich elites in the 1% like Mitt Romney isn’t “envy”—it’s disgust and anger. And deservedly so.