Thursday, September 20, 2012

D.K. Price's Voice

Dear Mitt Romney:

I’d like for you to know that, as of this year, I finally crossed over into the 53% of people who do pay income taxes. Prior to this year, I paid payroll taxes on every job I ever had, and believe me: there were a LOT of jobs.

When I took my tax forms down to H&R Block for a second opinion—the number that came up on the screen when I’d finished all the steps for Turbo Tax had sent me into mild shock—a calm, soft-spoken man named Upjeet explained to me why I owed the federal government more money. “It’s because you have more than one W-2,” he said. “Try to work for only one employer, if you can. Oh, and also, you are filing in two different states.”

So, let me get this straight: I’m being punished because I work more? I realize this isn’t your fault, Mitt, but the point is that you’re wrong about people like me, people who didn’t have to pay income taxes for a long time. The point is this: Upjeet explained that I was in the 15% tax bracket and that, well, the payroll taxes that had been taken out did not cover that 15%. You, however, pay 13% of taxes—“never less than 13%,” you’ve claimed. Tell me, Mitt: in what version of reality is this a fair deal? A man who has a dressage horse and several houses pays 13% in taxes, while a girl who has sometimes worked four jobs at once and finally got herself into graduate school (and therefore had to move and file in two states) pays 15%?

So here’s what it comes down to, Mitt: I am the 53%. I am one of those people you think you need to work hard to win over for this election. I am the person who has (so, so clearly, in my mind) “taken personal responsibility” for myself, and I am here to tell you right now: I will never, not in a million years, never ever vote for you. And here’s why.

You want to defund Planned Parenthood and effectively wipe out the only resource that a lot of young and low-income women have for safe, affordable, accessible health care. When I lived in California, I was always working. Only once, for about 7 months, did I have one job. The rest of my four years, I had at least two, and at the max, I had four: writing web content, working as an assistant for an entertainment attorney, and working for two different nightclubs. I was busy as hell, Mitt, but you know what? I still could not afford health care. With all the expenses (rent, car, you know how it goes), I could not purchase my own insurance policy. The only doctors I saw for most of my time in California were the doctors at Planned Parenthood, and thank God for them; if it weren’t for them, I would not have known that I was at risk for cervical cancer. So, now that I have health insurance, I will not allow some schmuck to defund the only way a lot of smart, bright, hardworking (yes, Mitt, hardworking!) women and men get STD screenings, preventative care, and birth control. Remember, Mitt, “federal” money doesn’t come from the federal government: it comes from us, the taxpayers, even if it’s “only” payroll taxes. I know exactly where I want my tax money to go: to helping the sick, the poor, and at-risk.

Another reason I would never ever vote for you: you clearly don’t understand how the world works. While you lambast President Obama’s foreign policy, you were the one who lumbered across Europe and insulted everyone from the British to the Palestinians—who must be a part of any peace process that involves, you know, them. I don’t agree with bombing Iran because I think it would kick-start another war in a region that’s already bleeding out. I think President Obama is too smart to get all blustery in the face of enemies who operate in a completely different (read: highly reactionary) way. I know you might not suspect someone who was in the 47% for a while to be interested in policy, but there you have it: you were wrong again.

I could go on and on Mitt: your stance on “family values” is pathetic and laughable (if your grandfather moved to Mexico because Utah was cracking down on polygamy, shouldn’t you have some sympathy for non-traditional, non-hegemonous marriages?); your desire to overturn—not amend or fix, but completely annihilate—the Affordable Care Act shows disdain for the millions of people who were denied coverage whether they could afford it or not, and for the people who couldn’t afford it, especially; you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be raised in a family that is not successful, not wealthy, but to see yourself and your siblings make something of yourselves. You, in short, are not a man who sees all of America. I understand what lay beneath your remarks: you see numbers and figures, you see risk and equations. What we need, Mitt, is a man who sees people. Who sees faces and real, actual lives. You’re a fine businessman, Mitt, but you’re not a President—not to this part of the 53%.


D.K. Price

D.K. Price is an MFA Candidate at George Mason University, where she teaches Composition and works as the Assistant Poetry Editor for Phoebe. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southeast Review and Eclipse.