Romney is wrong about 47% of Americans not paying income taxes

I’ve really got to get around to my series on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s clear Mitt Romney is not only confused, but pretty much bass-ackwards on what entitlement is. A recording recently got leaked of Mitt Romney saying:

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.

Romney went on: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

And now he’s offered this unhelpful clarification:

“The president believes in what I’ve described as a government centered society where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of individuals and I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world.”

First of all, it’s not even true that 47% of people don’t pay income tax. To avoid paying federal income tax, you must earn under the “minimum filing requirement” which is roughly $10k/year for an individual (it varies; check the link for more info), and that’s just a small portion of the 47% we’re talking about. Everybody else in that 47% is paying their taxes, but at the end of the year they are getting back more than they put in because of personal deductions for themselves and their dependents. How does that work?

Well, a lot of the 47% are pretty well-off, thanks to Republican tax cuts. That’s how it works.

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax.

That family of four is getting a tax break of $12,500 from the feds. Meanwhile, the most another family of four can get from federal assistance (welfare and food stamps) is about $900 per month or $10,800/year. So when Romney complains about people waddling up to the government trough, he’s really talking about hard-working parents who earn just below the median household income for the ludicrously expensive city of Los Angeles – people who have kids and pay mortgages are. Because a lot of those people are definitely included in that 47% number he threw around – a remark which, by the way, I can only understand as an excuse for why he can’t even hope to win the popular vote by more than 3%. With an attitude like that, what kind of a leader could he be?

ETA: someone just pointed out to me privately that a large number of the people in that 47% are military personnel. They don’t get paid enough, so we give them a few tax breaks.

While we may not all put more into the IRS’s coffers than we get back, we do all pay taxes. Anyone who’s housed is paying either their own property tax or their landlord’s, and that goes to their state – usually to fund public schooling, which relies on both state and the federal money. The vast majority of us pay sales tax on virtually everything we buy.

And more importantly than any of that, we are ALL paying for corporate welfare and Warren Buffet’s tax breaks. That’s where our IRS tax dollars go. And for that, Romney is insulting hard-working Americans who are able to put less and less of their earned money toward their own well-being or that of their dependents.

Sometimes it’s the most entitled people who have the least idea what entitlement means.


  1. Maartje says

    Does he not know about human rights?

    Yes, of course people feel entitled to housing… it is a basic human right.

    And gee, how awful of all those people that they should feel entitled to food! Everyone knows you should only eat food after you’ve earned it… Because that makes sense… If you happen not to have earned enough money to have any actual food that day you can simply subsist on air and the will to do better tomorrow.

    Seriously, send this candidate back to school. He not only failed biology, he won’t even pass civics!

  2. Marie says

    So according to Mitt Romney, people are “entitled” if they want healthcare, food, and housing….

    wow, I’m not sure what to say, he just really sucks :(

  3. says

    Amy McCabe,

    Very nicely put. Romney is now saying he wants to enable people to earn a living. Sounds good on the surface – it’s great for people to be able to take care of themselves. But he’s not dealing with the reality of why this isn’t happening:

    –People like HIM shipped a lot of jobs overseas, and without getting those back, we’re going to continue having high unemployment
    –Automation/technology has wiped out entire sectors, and will continue to remove more in the future. This is a normal problem for industrialized society. Should we stop growing technologically so there are more jobs? Should we reconsider which forms of automation don’t actually outperform human laborers? What’s his solution to that issue?
    –What about ageism? Companies are skewing more and more toward hiring young cheap workers over older, more experienced workers, even when the older workers are quite willing to take the same salary as the younger.
    –Some people just can’t earn a living. I’m talking about people with certain mental or physical health issues that prevent them from doing tasks consistently and reliably, or at all. I’m with you, Amy – these people deserve a decent life, and Jesus thought so too.

    No one’s getting rich on govt handouts… but some people are getting richer on them.

    And I’ve said this forever privately, and now I say it publicly: if Jesus had shown up now instead of 2,000 years ago, “Christians” like Romney would be the first in line to see him crucified, and they don’t even get it.

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