Capitalism v Welfarism: Romney hits back at Obama


Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama Wednesday of fostering a “web of dependency,” amid a sharpening battle over their competing visions for US society.

Under attack over videotaped comments dismissing 47 percent of Americans as looking for government handouts, the Republican presidential candidate defended his views in an opinion piece in USA Today as the path to prosperity.

“My course for the American economy will encourage private investment and personal freedom,” Romney wrote. “Instead of creating a web of dependency, I will pursue policies that grow our economy and lift Americans out of poverty.”

The controversy comes as Romney has slipped behind in the polls with just 48 days to go before the November 6 elections.

Romney has acknowledged that his bombshell comments at a fundraiser, which were secretly videotaped and then made public this week by Mother Jones magazine, were badly phrased.

But the former Massachusetts governor and his campaign have stepped up their attacks on social entitlements as they seek to frame a philosophical debate over the choices facing Americans.

In doing so they have seized on 14-year-old a audio recording from 1998 in which Obama, then a state senator in Illinois, can be heard advocating for a government role in resource redistribution.

“The trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure everybody’s got a shot,” Obama says in the audio.

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Romney, who has held a series of fundraisers this week in places like Orange County, California, Salt Lake City and Dallas, heads to Florida Wednesday where he will hold his first public campaign event since late last week.

It has been an awkward period for Romney, who has fended off a backlash from Republicans worried about his gaffe-plagued campaign.

Last week, Romney set off a furor by criticizing the administration as sympathetic to Islamic militants who attacks US diplomatic missions in Cairo and Libya, where the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Release of the fundraising video, and reports of internal campaign disarray, plunged Team Romney into deeper turmoil, but their decision to embrace the anti-dependency message appears to have energized the campaign.

“Mitt Romney’s vision for America is an opportunity society, where free people and free enterprise thrive and success is admired and emulated, not attacked,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement.

“President Obama’s vision for America is a government-centered society, where government grows bigger and more active, occupying more of our everyday lives.”

It was a tone Romney struck repeatedly Tuesday at fundraisers in Salt Lake City and then Dallas, where he told donors the president “favors redistribution.”

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