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economics, economy, politics, Uncategorized

Mitt Romney’s 47% who pay no taxes

Illustration: John Darkow

The democrats wasted no time attacking Romney’s remarks he made at a fundraiser dinner where he claimed that 47% of American’s don’t pay income taxes.  He then stated that his job “is not to worry about those people.”

Watch his remarks in the video below.


The Tax Policy Center breaks down that “47%”.

Tax Policy Center - 47 Percent with annotation

To suggest that those 47% don’t pay taxes is very misleading.  Two thirds of that group does pay payroll tax. The other third don’t because they are very poor and qualify for certain tax credits or are elderly and receive special kinds of deductions (many of these deductions for the poor and elderly were put into effect by republicans, by the way).  Don’t forget that everybody pays other kinds of taxes, primarily the sales tax which is a much larger percentage of the poor’s income than anyone else.

Where do these people live?  David Graham from the Atlantic provides a map the non-payers by states.  Those state in red have the highest shares and the blue states have the lowest.  Notice how the states in red also tend to have more republicans as well.

This is not to say that the 47% are mostly republicans.  One would have to look at party vote share by annual income to get a better look.  However, what we can say is that Romney’s off-the-cuff remarks are going to make it much harder for him in those states above.

Politics aside, Romney has a problem – his remarks demonstrate a seething contempt for the poor.  He sees them as free-riders.  I’m not sure where this antipathy for the poor comes from, but we have to stop demonizing them as if they are cheating the system.  These 47% are not lazy or scheming, but hardworking folks like everyone else.

I plan on writing future articles about why we demonize the poor, and why those who do have the wrong idea – so stay tuned.

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