Mitt Romney told an Iowa crowd on Thursday that the country should not raise taxes to shore up Medicare and Social Security because “corporations are people” too.
Responding to a question from an audience member as to why Social Security should be included in deficit talks when it doesn’t add to the deficit, Romney drifted into a defense of corporate rights.
“Corporations are people, my friend,” he said. “Of course they are.”
After receiving jeers from the audience over the quote, he elaborated: “Everything corporations earn goes to people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.”
Romney went on to suggest raising the retirement age rather than increasing taxes on business in order to fix entitlement programs’ shortfalls.
A video of the key quote below:
For context, here’s a rough transcript of the answer Romney gave:
ROMNEY: Do I believe that Social Security should take no part in deficit reduction negotiations? Social security and Medicare are a large part of federal spending. It is about half. Not just this year, but over the coming decades, if we are able to balance our budget, we have to make sure that the promises we make for Social Security and Medicare are promises we can keep. There are a couple ways to do that: one way is to raise taxes on people. Corporations are people. Of course they are — where do you think it goes? Human beings, my friend. Number one, you can raise taxes. That is not the approach would take.
Update: Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom took to Twitter to defend Romney’s quote: “Do folks think corporations are buildings? They’re people who incorporate to conduct business. They create jobs and hire more people.”
Responding to Fehrnstrom, Jon Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller took a shot at Romney on Twitter, replying “Was American Pad & Paper Company a person/friend?” Romney’s firm, Bain Capital, acquired American Pad & Paper in 1992 and closed two of its American plants, laying off 385 workers. It later went bankrupt.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.