So much supposed hay is being made of a relatively benign statement from Romney. I will ignore the leftie outrage over something they highlighted in the Life of Julia. Ramesh Ponnuru has something a little more on point — that many of the "dependents" on the fisc are Republicans, including, increasingly, seniors. Of course, what Romney had said wasn't that all the 47% were actually dependents, but that they had the attitude that they were owed all sorts of goodies from the government (cf Life of Julia again).
That said, Romney shouldn't walk away from trying to engage that attitude of "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"
Frank Keegan makes the argument that needs to be made to the 47%, though he is specifically targeting public employees:
If current state and municipal workers and retirees refuse to accept their fair share of sacrifice on retirement benefits, the looming taxpayer backlash will sweep away a century of progress. Workers must act voluntarily now because politics and law never will resolve this crisis before the money runs out, and legal protections they are counting on may be as false as politicians' promises.
The argument, in a nutshell is this: you're going to have to moderate your expectations of what you can get. The sooner that moderation occurs, the more likely that something will survive.
"The government" can't afford all the goodies promised. If you keep to that, and take the Obama route of doubling-down on those problems, what happens is a crash and then nada.
I know that a lot of people are delusional in thinking that if only they raised taxes just a wee bit on everybody and a hell of a lot on "the 1%" it will all work out somehow.
There are different levels of this delusion. It ranges from the absolute fairyland thinking that there's some infinite well of money or that the Treasury can just run the printing presses with no adverse consequences. You get the same sort of thing in public pensions, where the states can just keep printing IOUs to the pension funds and call them assets. The government never goes out of business! (Except all the times that it has) Uh, the feds can bail us out! (except that they won't).
Then there's the other, realistic end of the spectrum, that you don't hear so much about. These realize that taxation will need to go to European levels (oh yes, VAT please – which hits everybody) and that stuff like medical care will have to be rationed. If no one gets "heroic care" past working age, can anybody really complain? It's all provided from the government, and once you're retired, you're no longer feeding the beast. But again, that trade-off is rarely highlighted…and lots of people think we don't have to get to European standards-of-living. Oh, and such people realize that far more than 53% will have to pay taxes to keep it going.
So yes, I agree with Michael Walsh that Mitt should embrace the opportunity, but not just to say it's not a good thing for people to keep voting themselves goodies on someone else's dime, but that it's unsustainable in the long run, and that run is about run out as it is.
Sure, a reasonable tax plan would be great, but it needs to be linked to moderation of expectation on the goodies side as well. So go out and sell it, Mr. Candidate.