Meet Scott Prouty. On any given day you might find him tending bar, saving women from crocodile-infested waters or recording videos that change the course of American history. No big deal. As he made splendidly evident on his hotly anticipated debut television appearance on Wednesday night, Prouty didn’t release the 47 Percent video for the fame or the glory or the politics of it all. He certainly didn’t release it out of loyalty to the Democrats or Republicans, as he’s a member of neither party. Prouty released it based on principle.
Eight o’clock on Wednesday night marked the event horizon for Prouty going completely public. Wearing a blue tie and pinstripe suit the Boston native appeared on The Ed Show to reveal his face for the first time and answer questions about his now famous — or infamous, depending on your leanings — video. When the program started, David Corn, the Mother Jones reporter who turned the “47 percent” video into a viral sensation and a turning point in the presidential campaigns, sang Prouty’s praises and said he was glad the world could finally “experience his thoughtfulness, sincerity and passion.” Corn also tweeted two quotes from the interview that stand out. ”I wanted Mitt Romney’s words … to be the absolute center of attention,” Prouty told MSNBC host Ed Schulz. He quickly added, “I am registered independent.”
The whole story behind the “47 Percent” video and Prouty’s multiple attempts to get the mainstream media’s attention is revelatory in a number of ways. It’s also not entirely new. Last September, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smithoffered up a terrific timeline of how the person behind the camera at that $50,000-a-plate campaign dinner tried to make the video go viral well before Mother Jones dropped its bombshell. More details emerged with Prouty’s Ed Show appearance, though — like the one about the one time Prouty saved a woman’s life by pulling her out of a sinking car after she’d skidded off the road into water. There’s also the inevitably inspirational tale of his personal battle over releasing the tape and well concerted effort to stay out of the spotlight so that the story could speak for itself.
H/T: The Atlantic
FULL Interview Scott Prouty, the man shoots 47% video defeats Mitt Romney, changes America History (by NewHotSport)
He is my new American hero!
The fellow on the other end of the phone call pronounced his name with hesitation. For nearly a fortnight, he and I had been building a long-distance rapport via private tweets, emails, and phone conversations as we discussed how best to make public the secret video he had shot of Mitt Romney talking at a private, $50,000-per-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida. Now I was almost ready to break the story at Mother Jones. I had verified the video, confirming when and where it had been shot, and my colleagues and I had selected eight clips—including Romney’s now-infamous remarks about the 47 percent of Americans he characterized as “victims” unwilling to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives”—to embed in two articles. We had blurred these clips, at the source’s request, to make it difficult to tell where Romney had uttered these revealing comments, while clearly showing that it was Romney speaking. The goal was to afford the source a modicum of protection.
The source was justifiably worried about repercussions. Once the video was posted, he might lose his job. He might face criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. Months earlier, he had anonymously posted a snippet from the video, in which Romney nonchalantly described the work-camp-like living conditions at a Chinese factory he had visited. The source, offended by these comments, had hoped that the short clip would catch fire in the political-media world. But it hadn’t, partly because its context and origins were unknown. The source’s desire to remain in the shadows had hindered his ability to bring the story to the public.
Then James Carter IV, a freelance researcher (and, though I didn’t know it then, the grandson of Jimmy Carter) who had been sending me public documents regarding Romney’s prior business investments, had, at my request, tracked the anonymous poster down. I subsequently persuaded him to send me the full video of the fundraiser and to allow me to release portions of it, under the strict condition that I’d do whatever was possible to keep his identity hidden. He did not want to become the story. He hoped the public would focus only on Romney’s words. And through all this, he had not told me who he was, though he disclosed that he had worked at the fundraiser and insisted that he was no political partisan and had filmed Romney more out of curiosity than as part of a plan to trap the GOP candidate.
I respected his desire for privacy. He was about to commit a courageous and unprecedented act of whistle-blowing. But as we neared publication, I said I had to know his name. Do you really need it? he asked. Yes, I replied, explaining I could not publish the stories without knowing his identity. I vowed I would keep it a secret.
I had waited until the final moments to press him on this. I realized there was a chance that he might decline to identify himself, and the story would die. He asked once more if it was necessary. I said it was and held my breath. There was a long silence. “Scott,” he said. “Scott Prouty.” Thank you, I replied. Then we moved on to other details.
When I got off the phone, I did the obvious: I Googled him. The initial results were worrisome. I found mug shots for two men with that name who had been arrested. But then I located aproclamation (issued by the mayor and town council of Davie, Florida) that the source had mentioned earlier. On September 25, 2005, a car had plunged into a canal along I-75 and sunk into the water. Prouty, then working at motorcycle dealership, rushed to the scene. A tall fellow with a strapping build, Prouty jumped into the water and, using a knife provided by a fellow employee, cut the seatbelt, freed the unconscious woman in the driver’s seat, and handed her to a coworker who revived her with CPR. Prouty, who had noticed there was a child safety seat in the car, kept diving into the dark water in search of a child. But there had been no one else in the car. The proclamation noted that Prouty and two of his coworkers had taken “valiant and swift lifesaving actions in the face of an emergency without thought to their own safety” and declared them “lifesaving heroes.” I also found a local newsletter with a photo of Prouty and his colleagues being honored by the Weston City Commission for their heroism (his name was misspelled “Proudly”). The picture did not match either of the mug shots, and I saw that one of the other Proutys was incarcerated in Wisconsin, while the other seemed to be from a different part of Florida. I was relieved. I would later learn that my source was a college-educated bartender, in his late 30s, who had grown up in the Boston area.
Days later, we published the first article. It went hyper-viral. The 47 percent story quickly became bigger than Prouty and I had expected. Realizing he could not keep hidden the location and date of what was becoming the most notorious fundraiser in modern history, Prouty gave me permission to reveal those details, to remove the blurring from the videos we had posted, and to release the entire video he had sent me. This will make it easier for someone to track you down, I said. If they want to find me, he replied, they will.
And there was this: If Prouty did claim credit, he would immediately become a target of the right, especially during the campaign. He could expect an effort to smear and discredit him.
But it was also natural for Prouty to want to accept the many accolades flowing to the mystery videographer. Why not come forward and enjoy the moment? There might be a financial benefit, or, better yet, an opportunity to enhance his career prospects. He was interested in going back to school or working in public policy. Donations or other assistance might materialize. Some media outlets were looking to make offers.
In the course of our ongoing discussions, I said I would support him, whatever he did. I did point out that were he to reveal himself, he could expect forces on the right to dig up whatever dirt could be found on him, his friends, and his family—or to make stuff up. I had no idea if this was a real concern, but I wanted him to consider the possibility. As he pondered his options, he repeatedly told me that he did not want to distract from the impact of his video. And he meant it.
After the election, the dynamics changed slightly. Prouty no longer had to fret about any possible retribution from a Romney administration. But the fundamentals remained. Going public would bring cheers and perhaps rewards but also place him in the crosshairs. I was frequently asked whether I thought my source would out himself. I answered that I could envision him remaining a ghost for the next 20 years, or deciding to hold a press conference the next day. I got the sense that he was living with a tough choice—and thinking about it—every day.
wondered if Prouty’s role would remain a secret for as long. But he has now decided to come forward. Not for a big payoff, but to pursue the same passion for social justice that caused him to post that China clip. I’ll let him explain that and his motives—for making the video, for releasing it, and for now stepping out of the shadows. He’s doing so with an hourlong interview on The Ed Show. It’s his story, and I’m glad he’s telling it.
h/t: Mother Jones
Of all the many despondent and bitter post-election screeds, WorldNetDaily commentator Craige McMillan has managed to incorporate all of them into one column, where he attacks gays and lesbians, college students and the “47 percent” as part of America’s growing “rot.” He even says that they are “at war with God” and like the “antichrists” mentioned in 1 John.
McMillan claims that public school children are turned into “little secularists and communists” while “America’s up and coming leaders” at colleges are “too busy enjoying the enforced coed dorms and subsidized abortions at our nation’s most prestigious educational establishments” to care about America’s decline.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Mitt Romney is attributing his loss in the 2012 election to the “gifts” President Obama gave to minority voters, the Los Angeles Times is reporting. Speaking to donors on Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor praised his own campaign, but speculated that Obama won because he was “very generous” to his base:
Mitt Romney told his top donors Wednesday that his loss toPresident Obama was a disappointing result that neither he or his top aides had expected, but said he believed his team ran a “superb” campaign with “no drama,” and attributed his rival’s victory to “the gifts” the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.
Obama, Romney argued, had been “very generous” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents’ insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama’s healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-aged women to back the president. […]
“The President’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift—so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”
The comments echo the claims Romney made during a private high-dollar fundraiser earlier this year. In the video first published by Mother Jones, Romney argued that 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government.”
After video of Mitt Romney declaring that 47% of Americans were just lousy bums looking for a handout leaked, Romney stood by the comments. Then last week, Romney flip-flopped, saying, “In this case I said something that’s just completely wrong.” That’s a move the Forever Mayor Of 9/11 Town doesn’t think Romney has anything to be embarrassed about: “If I were Governor Romney, I would say that I am glad I had the courage to raise an issue nobody else would raise.” […]
(In speaking of his disdain for the “47 percent) Romney made a fatal error. Parasites had always been defined as a minority of America, mostly African-Americans. But with the “47 percent,” he suddenly turned a huge percentage of whites into “parasites.”
This deeply alienated the millions of whites who had always gained self-respect by identifying with the class of the “productives” or “creatives,” a world apart from the minority parasites.
Romney turned his most important swing base - white workers - against him, and, in the long-term, gave them reason to question the legitimacy of the entire parasite narrative.
But it gets worse. By defining half the country as dependent on government, Romney suddenly opened up the question of who was not dependent. And a series of stories about Romney, Bain Capital, and Romney’s taxes began to make clear a revolutionary truth: that the corporations and richest Americans, such as Romney himself, were actually the most dependent, the most parasitical.
The 47 percent began learning some startling truths about Romney and Bain, the company the Romney founded and made him rich. […]
On Wednesday night all the news hole-driven stories about debate expectations will give way to real evaluations of the candidates’ performances and the accuracy of their statements.
During the primaries, Romney would often boast that he’s strongly positioned to undercut Obama’s best defense of the Affordable Care Act. If Obamacare really is modeled after Romney’s own Massachusetts health care law, why didn’t Obama call Romney during the legislative process for help designing it. Here, the facts are on Obama’s side. Most succinctly, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who provided both Obama and Romney health care reform advice, called Obamacare and Romneycare “the same f***ing bill.”
Medicare and Medicaid
Relatedly, the Romney camp’s plans for Medicare and Medicaid — but particularly for Medicare — have become central liabilities for them over the past several weeks. Specifically, they propose to cut funding to Medicaid dramatically and hand management of the program to individual states, and to provide seniors vouchers to buy either private health insurance or access to traditional Medicare. They’ve tried to neutralize the issue by attacking Obama for cutting Medicare spending by over $700 billion for current seniors. Those cuts — part of the ACA — come from ending overpayments to hospitals and private insurers, and restoring that spending to Medicare would render the program insolvent by 2016.
Obama thinks the debate will be an ideal venue to call Romney out for a claim widely disputed by journalists and independent fact checkers: that Obama “gutted” the 1996 welfare reform. The Obama administration has proposed allowing states more flexibility to move people from welfare to work if they can demonstrate an ability to do so with greater efficiency. Romney and his campaign have falsely construed this as ending the welfare to work requirement. “It will be a little tougher [for him] to defend face-to-face,” Obama said recently. Ironically a bunch of House Republicans did in fact vote to end welfare to work requirements as part of an effort to further roll back the welfare program.
A companion piece to Obama’s attacks on Romney’s tax plan is the fact that Romney himself has paid a very low effective tax rate the past two years — and that he refuses to release tax returns for any year before 2010. Romney recently dispelled one of the nastiest pieces of Democratic speculation about his taxes — that he paid no taxes for 10 years. But what he’s already revealed, and the fact that he refuses to release more information, leaves him vulnerable in the debate to questions about transparency and the unorthodox wealth management strategies he’s used to build his fortune.
Romney’s unearthed remarks attacking the 47 percent of people who pay no federal income tax was the most defining and revealing moment of the campaign. We expect it to get extensive treatment Wednesday night. Romney and his campaign have attempted to walk the remarks back, or at least soften the impact they’ve had. But Obama has capitalized on the remarks in ads and public comments. But this is a long-standing conservative bugaboo. And the substantive implications of wanting everyone to pay federal income taxes are ugly and politically damaging.
h/t: Brian Beutler at TPM
WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, share a similarly dim view of a very large portion of Americans, according to previously unreported remarks by Ryan. Both believe that many of their fellow citizens are dependent on government and have no motivation to improve their lives — but they disagree over the precise number.
Romney’s estimate, famously, is 47 percent. For Ryan, it’s 30 percent.
"Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want the welfare state," Ryan said. "Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers." (It’s not definitively clear whether Ryan said "the welfare state" or "their welfare state." HuffPost originally transcribed it as "their welfare state." Regardless, the comment was made in reference to people on government assistance.)
Ryan’s comments were delivered as part of his keynote address at The American Spectator’s 2011 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner, which the magazine posted online. A reader tipped HuffPost to Ryan’s speech, given in November — six months before Romney’s videotaped remarks.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said at a fundraiser in May, first reported by The Huffington Post. ”All right — there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.”
UPDATE: 7:18 p.m. — Brendan Buck, Ryan’s campaign spokesman, said Ryan’s videotaped remark was, “Only 30 percent want the welfare state.” Buck added in an email: “Paul Ryan’s message at this open forum — just as it is every day on the campaign trail –- was one of upward mobility and opportunity for all Americans. The discussion was about the size of government and nothing more.”
h/t: Ryan Grim at HuffPo
We learn the most about someone’s character not from what he does when he knows others are watching but from what he does when he thinks they aren’t.
We’ve learned an awful lot of troubling things about Mitt Romney recently. First, his sweeping, closed-door condemnation of President Barack Obama’s supporters revealed the disdain he has for half the population he hopes to serve. Then, the limited tax returns Romney selectively released confirmed that he’s willing to share information about the time he’s been in the public eye and running for president, but not the time he was running the corporation he touts as his sole qualifying credential for the highest office in the land.
When he thought no one was listening, Romney accused 47 percent of Americans of not taking responsibility for their lives, painting them as lounging in government dependency — a conclusion he reached because, for various legitimate reasons, they are exempt from paying federal income taxes.
Romney stands not only on shaky ethical grounds in making that indiscriminate generalization — he’s also on flimsy factual footing. The 47 percent Romney derides as self-pitying “victims” includes seniors who live on a fixed income thanks to the Social Security they paid into and earned over a lifetime of hard work, our troops in combat zones and veterans who have fought for our country. It includes students studying to get the skills that will win them the jobs of the future and decent Americans actively looking for work because their jobs were outsourced by companies such as those Romney specialized in developing. Most of them pay plenty of payroll, property, local and state taxes.
None of these Americans is looking for a handout or shortcut. That Romney waited until he thought all the cameras and microphones were off before insulting the millions he belittled as “those people” unworthy of his concern calls into question his judgment, leadership and fitness for the public trust. If you’re not willing to fight for every American, you don’t deserve to represent any of them.
The second lesson we learned came at another time Romney thought no one was looking: He released his 2011 tax returns late on a Friday afternoon in the hopes of making the smallest news splash possible.
What was he trying to hide? Perhaps that, despite his tough talk on China, he profited from investments in a state-owned Chinese oil company and a video company known for pirating copyrighted content. Or that, despite calling Russia our “No. 1 geopolitical foe” and his fiery rhetoric against Iran, he invested in Russia’s state-owned oil giant, which does business with Iran. Or that the candidate with the slogan “Believe in America” has been betting against the U.S. dollar by buying foreign currencies and keeping his investments in the Caymans and Bermuda. Or maybe he was hoping no one would notice that he paid just 14 percent of his $14 million income, a rate lower than many middle-class families pay.
Romney’s pre-weekend release was one big head fake, hoping that the measly two years of tax returns he has released would distract us from remembering that he still hasn’t released a single one from before his candidacy. It would be far more helpful for voters to see what tax loopholes he was exploiting and which foreign accounts he was favoring over American institutions when he didn’t know he’d ever have to reveal them. And since Romney likes to divide people based on what income tax rate they pay, it would certainly help to know his own — and whether he includes himself in the 47 percent he thinks aren’t pulling their weight.
Here’s what we know: Romney has these records ready — he gave John McCain 23 years’ worth before he lost the vice presidential nomination to Sarah Palin and gave his accountants 20 years so they could release a CliffsNotes version that voters have no way of verifying. We also already know this self-described “severely conservative” man takes some pretty liberal deductions; now we know that includes writing off half of the country.
The offensive comments Romney hoped would stay private and the remaining tax returns that he’s still withholding from the American people are important because they are windows into the character, values and priorities of someone who could drive our nation’s economic policy.
Obama wants to eliminate the special loopholes Romney exploits but that are unavailable to most Americans; Romney, of course, wants to protect them. Romney also plans to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for even more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. He may mock redistributive policies, but Romney is proposing the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top in American history.
Recognizing he’s president of all Americans, Obama has a different plan: Everyone should pay their fair share so we can responsibly reduce the deficit in a balanced way and make investments in areas proven to fuel growth from the middle out, such as education, jobs, innovation and energy. It’s a plan the president believes in and has made public for all to see. He’s the only candidate in this race who believes those should be one and the same.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
Mitt Romney is receiving all kinds of flack for his now-infamous 47% comments. But could they hurt his running mate too?
Rob Zerban, Paul Ryan’s Democratic challenger for his Wisconsin House seat, told Ed Schultz Wednesday that Badger State voters are “quite resentful” over the remarks, which were surreptitiously recorded at a Romney fundraiser and posted online Monday by the liberal magazine Mother Jones.
Zerban said the comments echoed Ryan’s own much-debunked assertions at last month’s Republican National Convention that President Obama had gone back on a promise to keep open a Janesville GM plant . Ex-Janesville plant employees told Schultz after that speech that Ryan "ought to be ashamed of himself" for the claim.
Despite Ryan’s presence on the national ticket, he’s spending $2 million in ads against Zerban—a sign the 7-term incumbent may actually be worried.
Zerban, who currently trails by around 8 points, said he himself benefited from “government cheese” as a young kid and is living proof of the American dream.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just which 47 percent of Americans was Mitt Romney talking about? It’s hard to say. He lumped together three different ways of sorting people in what he’s called less-than-elegant remarks.
Each of those three groups — likely Obama voters, people who get federal benefits and people who don’t pay federal income taxes — contains just under half of all Americans, in the neighborhood of 47 percent at a given moment. There’s some overlap, but the three groups are quite distinct.
Confusingly, Romney spoke as if they’re made up of the same batch of Americans.
(LIKELY) OBAMA VOTERS
What Romney said: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.”
He’s right on the nose, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll: Forty-seven percent of likely voters say they support Obama. And 46 percent say they support Romney, essentially a tie. This number fluctuates from poll to poll and week to week and could shift substantially before Election Day.
Who they are:
—Most are employed: Sixty-two percent of the Obama voters work, including the 10 percent working only part time. A fourth are retired. Five percent say they’re temporarily unemployed.
—Most earn higher-than-average wages. Fifty-six percent have household incomes above the U.S. median of $50,000. Just 16 percent have incomes below $30,000, and about the same share (20 percent) have incomes of $100,000 or more.
—They’re all ages but skew younger than Romney’s voters: Twenty percent are senior citizens and 12 percent are under age 30.
—They’re more educated than the overall population: Forty-three percent boast four-year college degrees or above; 21 percent topped out with a high school diploma.
EOPLE WHO GET FEDERAL BENEFITS
What Romney said: “There are 47 percent … who are dependent on government … who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Whether they are dependent and believe they are entitled to anything is arguable, but Romney’s statistic is about right — 49 percent of the U.S. population receive some kind of federal benefits, including Social Security and Medicare, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Looking only at people who receive benefits that are based on financial need, such as food stamps, the portion is smaller — just over a third of the population. Many people get more than one type of benefit.
The biggest programs and their percentage of the U.S. population:
—Medicaid: 26 percent
—Social Security: 16 percent
—Food stamps: 16 percent
—Medicare: 15 percent
—Women, Infants and Children food program: 8 percent
THOSE WHO PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX
What Romney said: “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”
Romney’s about on target — 46 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax last year, according to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Most do pay other federal taxes, including Medicare and Social Security withholding. And they’re not all poor. Some middle-income and wealthy families escape income tax because of deductions, credits and investment tax preferences.
Why these people don’t pay:
—About half don’t earn enough money for a household of their size to owe income tax. For example, a family of four earning less than $26,400 wouldn’t pay.
—About 22 percent get tax breaks for senior citizens that offset their income.
—About 15 percent get tax breaks for the working poor or low-income parents.
—Almost 3 percent get tax breaks for college tuition or other education expenses.
Who they are:
—The vast majority have below-average earnings: Among all who don’t owe, 9 out of 10 make $50,000 or less.
—But some of the wealthy escape taxes, including about 4,000 households earning more than $1 million a year.
H/T: Yahoo! News
In a long floor statement Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) excoriated Mitt Romney’s leaked comments on government dependency, again suggesting that the Republican presidential candidate himself may have dodged taxes.
Romney, he said, “only wants to be president of half the United States of America” — a response to Romney’s remark that 47 percent of Americans are “victims” who cannot be shaken from their dependence on government.
Reid said that Romney was disparaging toward — and hoping to raise taxes on — the elderly, the disabled, young students and members of the military.
“The 47 percent are ordinary, hard-working Americans who deserve respect – especially from a man who wants to be their president,” Reid said. “They’re not avoiding their tax bills using Cayman Island tax shelters or Swiss bank accounts, like Mitt Romney.”
On Monday and Tuesday Mother Jones published exclusive video that captured Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a May 17 fundraiser, which was held at the home of private equity mogul Mark Leder. Responding to a question about the “Palestinian problem,” Romney said peace in the Middle East is not possible and a Palestinian state is not feasible, telling donors that Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.” At another point, the GOP presidential nominee told attendees of this $50,000-a-plate dinner that 47 percent of Americans—those who back President Obama—are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.” He noted: “my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” These comments set off a media firestorm and generated headlines around the world.
Romney’s remarks, denigrating nearly half of the electorate, sent the Romney campaign—already roiled by infighting—into panic mode. The campaign hastily convened a late-night press conference to address his controversial statements, and Romney stood by his “off the cuff” comments, while conceding that they were “not elegantly stated.” He claimed his comments where merely a “snippet” and not the “full response.” That was not true; his comments were shown in full. He added, “I hope the person who has the video would put out the full material.”