People across the country were shocked (and many outraged) today when presidential candidate Mitt Romney was caught on a hidden video by Mother Jones denouncing 47 percent of the voter population across the US.
In the video Romney states that “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what…” because they are “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”
He goes on to say that “These are the people that pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax…And so my job is not to worry about those people.”
Okay, let’s back this up a few steps. The argument about the “47 percent” has been going on for some time and, to be frank, was true in 2011 - 47 percent of all people are not paying a federal income tax. This does NOT mean they are paying no income taxes, however.
The Atlantic broke down the numbers in 2011 and their analysis pointed out:
(1) Paying no federal income tax, or FIT, is not the same as paying no taxes, since payroll taxes account for as much government revenue as FIT, and state and local taxes still exist; (2) the vast majority of those who don't pay FIT make less than $30,000 a year; (3) the reason the "47 percent" exists is not because some people are lazy free-riders, but because Congress, at the behest and prodding of the public, has larded the tax code with benefits and deductions that can wipe out a family's tax burden.
So what does this mean, exactly?
Essentially 47 percent of Americans are not paying income taxes BECAUSE they are paying state and local taxes and following Congressional laws designed to give them tax breaks, particularly if they earn less than $30,000 a year. When applied to Romney’s speech this means that roughly 47 percent of people who are, in fact, paying their taxes as they should are not a concern for him and his campaign.
But what about the people who really aren’t paying taxes?
It’s true, there are a small percentage (about one seventh of the 47 percent) who pay no taxes at all because of both deductions and working benefits. That means a total of about 6.7 percent of all Americans aren’t paying taxes. Ironically enough, that’s actually less than the current unemployment rate of the US (8.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Reports indicate that even the poorest 20 percent of wage earners are still paying taxes at a rate of about 1/20 of their total income.
So what exactly is Romney’s plan?
“What I have to is try and convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
Great plan, Mitt, and many people may still follow it - even after he admitted to tying his family dog to the roof of his car (in an air-right kennel, naturally). Always a sure-fire way to get voters on your side, especially animal rights activists!
In a hasty press conference held after the video’s release Romney responded to the public, briefly explaining his views before simply walking off stage.
Not backing away from anything he said, Romney describes what he said as lacking “tact” but still representing his actual point of view within his campaign. When asked if he truly believes them, though, he simply smiled and walked off the stage.
The political fallout of this is still to be decided, however Romney’s response to the released video has many people calling him a “desperate man in a desperate situation” as he is scrambling to repair the damage he inadvertently caused himself.