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.”

“The welfare state is not only unsustainable financially, but morally as well. A dependency culture undermines human dignity. Government aid should be limited to temporary support, and for those truly unable to care for themselves. By no stretch of the imagination is that 47 percent of the population,” Byberg said.

In a follow-up interview, Byberg said he was referring to people who are not paying federal income taxes and wasn’t referring to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid when defining the “welfare state.”

Byberg acknowledged that nearly two-thirds of households that don’t pay federal income taxes do pay payroll taxes, but he said that’s not the same.

“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.”

Byberg is hoping that his comments resonate with the western Minnesota congressional district. This is the second time he’s run against Peterson. He lost in 2010 by nearly 18 percentage points.

  • Jamie

    They just don’t get it!!

  • Eric Larsson

    Right. We’ve got to get these millionaires and billion dollar profit companies off of their dependence on tax breaks and make them pay the same percentage of taxes that we do.

  • Eric Jaffa

    A woman who works as a waitress is contributing to society with her labor.

    A man who picks tomatoes in a field is contributing to society with his labor.

    They may not make enough money to owe federal income taxes.

    Lee Byberg accusing them of being part of “dependency culture” and implying that they aren’t contributing to our nation is dubious.

  • Colin Lee

    If his comments were “off-the-cuff” and “inelegantly stated” does that mean that he believes EVERY WORD,

    but would have found more gentle words to state the same idea IN PUBLIC…

    that forty-seven percent of Americans are not his constituency and do not matter to him?

    Byberg says, “We are depriving from them the opportunity to feel that they are part of what it takes to fund a nation.”

    Does he know that the poorest twenty percent of Americans make only three percent of all income, but pay two percent of all federal, state, and local taxes?

    I highly doubt he’s aware. If we also include their renter’s share of property taxes, our system often punishes the poor simply for being poor.

    Is it not the duty of all public servants to know the facts before making serious accusations and apologize later if they find they did not know?

  • Jeff

    “Deprived” of the “opportunity” to pay taxes??? Byberg sounding like a communist.

  • andrew

    All I would say is this:

    If you rely on a government that has put us $16tril in debt, has our troops fighting continuous wars in multiple countries and both party presidents accept money from the same financial institutions (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.)…

    You are a fool.

    Byberg said nothing about those people being at fault for anything, nor did he say anything about millionaires or billionaires…so I’m not sure where those comments came frome. What he DID say, is that our nation is BROKE and if we continue entitlement programs, without bolstering the economy, there will literally be NO MONEY to give to anyone. Nothing. That’s not making an opinion about a certain demographic of people, it’s stating fact about macroeconomics. It’s unsustainable.

    Would Romney change this??? Who knows, but don’t try put words in Byberg’s mouth just because you don’t agree with the typical “Republican” philosophy. Mr. Byberg is an exception to many of the “establishment republicans” I have ever met and I believe that simply because he agrees with one statement, does not define his character as a candidate…far from that.