As the two major presidential candidates ready for tomorrow's first debate, President Barack Obama seems to have a small, but consistent lead in most polls. There's no doubt that Republican candidate Mitt Romney suffered damage with his incautious remark -- delivered to fundraisers but taped and released by liberal activists -- that 47 percent of Americans won't vote for him because they don't pay any federal taxes.
To dismiss a substantial portion of American adults as government-feeders devoid of personal motivation is callous of Romney. The American spirit still prevails in most of us, and hopes of success and self reliance exist within most of us, and don't disappear when financial misfortune occurs.
During the debates, candidate Romney will be tasked with the responsibility of convincing Americans that he cares about the interests of all Americans, and not just the upper-middle- and upper-class. President Obama has accumulated a level of empathy with middle- and lower-income Americans, and that helps his chances for re-election.
However, Romney's 47 percent statement, while short-sighted, does merit further discussion. A culture of dependency has began to grow within America.
It's not a good thing that roughly half of all Americans, many full-time workers, pay no federal taxes. It's not a good thing that 47 million Americans, a record number, are on food stamps. It's not a good thing that record numbers of adults have moved out of the workforce, either giving up on employment or seeking Social Security disability. Fewer U.S. adults today are in the workforce than in the past. The unemployment rate is artificially lower than it should be due to the massive exodus of adults from the workplace.
The president has offered no real proposals to end this growth in dependency. During the debates, President Obama needs to be pressed on this question, and offer proposals to move more Americans back to self-sufficiency.