Romney's 47% Remark Correct, Sort Of

Mitt Romney is correct in asserting that about 47% of voters in the United States will never vote for him under any condition. They are committed Obama supporters. This is an accurate political analysis of the 2012 race for President.

Romney further asserts truth in stating that most of those 47% are dependent on federal or state government assistance and because of their dependency, will never dare bite the hand that feeds them: the Democratic Party.

David Corn, a writer for the liberal leaning, writes, “he [Romney] dismissed these Americans [guaranteed Obama voters] as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.”

Romney’s exact quote was: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. “

This statement is the kind of red meat his base has been dying to hear for months. The mainstream media hype around the story will only further serve to motivate the Republican base. I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney’s fundraising numbers increase in the next 48 hours.

Romney is mostly correct in this statement, both from a political analysis view and from a societal view.

Romney correctly states that 47% of Americans pay no federal income tax, a figure publicized by the Tax Policy Center last year. However, he did not mention that many of those 47%, did pay into Social Security and Medicare and in some states are responsible for some payment of state income taxes. Those FICA taxes are usually not paid by the highest income groups who earn their money from investment or real estate income.

Romney could have further articulated his point by using figures from the National Taxpayers Union. In 2009, the NTU found that the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. paid 37% of all income tax collected that year. The top 10% paid 70%  and the top 25% of taxpayers paid 87% of all income tax collected.

In 2009, the top 25% of Americans were defined as individuals or families with adjusted gross income of $66,193 a year or above. Eight-seven cents out of every dollar collected in income tax by the Federal government that year was taken from just a quarter of all Americans.

Not every single Obama voter see themselves as entitled victims. The mistake Romney made in his speech was not parsing the difference between the 47% of people who don’t pay income tax and the 47% of people who will vote for President Obama.

Many of the people who don’t pay income tax also don’t vote. Many low income Americans not paying income taxes are seniors who are more likely to vote Republican. Another chunk of voters who don’t pay income taxes get huge deductions because of their mortgages and child tax credits. Many of those are suburban Republican voters.

Still, much of Obama’s support comes from the working poor and the very poor, who not only don’t pay income taxes, but tend to be on federal and state assistance. Sometimes that assistance is just unemployment or disability pay for a few months. Others are completely dependent on government for not only supplemental income but also food stamps, public housing, public education and health care at public hospitals and clinics. Romney is correct in assuming the 90% of those on assistance will vote for Democrats because that is the party that believes government welfare programs are the answer to chronic income insecurity and poverty.If you are a beneficiary of those programs, you will be inclined to vote for the party that wants to grow them.

The 47% of Americans not paying income taxes are, as Romney accurately states, not likely to vote for him because his anti-tax message won’t resonate. They don’t pay income taxes, so why would they care if the rates go up or down? Further, if some of them are receiving government hand outs and they can get more of those by raising taxes on other people, that might sound really good to them. This is the basis of Obama’s class warfare campaign.

The President knows how divided America is in the tax code. He knows that about half the country pays income taxes and the other half doesn’t. He knows that about half the country receives a cash or cash-like payment from the federal government and the other half don’t. He also knows that the political parties are largely aligned with either side of those conflicts. Democrats dominate the political mindset of those who pay no federal taxes but receive federal benefits and Republicans dominate among those who pay income taxes and receive no benefits. Therefore, it is in the Democrat’s best interest to make sure fewer people pay income taxes and more people become dependent on government programs. Even if that is a 55-45 split for Democrats, it is a society that will probably only elect Dem0crats, making the federal government an essentially one-party system.

Romney should point out the scandal that 47% of Americans do not pay income taxes. The scandal is not that those people are freeloaders whose taxes should be raised, rather it is that they are not paying taxes because of how little money they make. The poor economy and horrendous unemployment crisis is driving more people into poverty. Poor people have no income on which to pay tax. Additionally, they require more assistance from the federal government just to stay alive and functioning.

The best plan for getting more Americans to pay income taxes is to get more private sector jobs for them to fill. Plenty of Americans who are currently not paying income tax were doing so just 2 or 3 years ago. They had $40 – $50K annual incomes and were happily paying their income and FICA taxes. Because of the long term recession, they are unemployed with little to no income other than a handful of unemployment programs.

Hopefully, Romney take this opportunity to talk about how Obama’s poor economic record is leading to more unemployment, more poverty, sinking incomes and thus an exacerbation of the income tax payment disparity.

He can reiterate that he wants more people paying income taxes and the best way to do that is to grow the job market with free market principles. Private sector job growth will lower unemployment, get more people off federal assistance and back into self-reliant incomes of which they will pay a portion in tax.

The  best way to narrow taxation inequality is not to pull successful people down, but to lift struggling people up to financial freedom.

Democrats want to pull down the successful. Republicans want to raise up the disenfranchised.

It is the fundamental difference in the two ideologies and Romney needs to make it the fundamental choice for voters in this race.

Filed under: National Goverment


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    The video of the fundraiser revealed that Romney has contempt for and no problem insulting the 24 million unemployed Americans who paid no taxes last year, but who took government unemployment checks --- calling them irresponsible, entitled, government-dependent moochers. And how many of them are unemployed due to venture capitalists like Romney who outsourced their jobs overseas or closed their companies?

    Who would vote for someone who kicked them when they were down? Could Romney afford to lose those 24 million votes which he had been courting by criticizing Obama's efforts to get them back to work and promising a speedier return to full employment?

    I always thought Romney was smart, if a bit out of touch. Now I know he's both not smart and also very out of touch.

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