Yes, the election is over. But, conservatives remain in search of an explanation for their bitter loss of not just the presidency, but seats in both houses of Congress as well. One such reason continues to focus on candidate Romney’s notorious or “spot on” (you decide) comments regarding the “47% of voters” who he would never be able to count among his supporters. Why? Because they: (1) pay no taxes; (2) want things for free from the federal government; and (3) resist taking personal responsibility for their lives. Though Romney did not use these words, “moocher” and “deadbeat” come to mind. How else would you describe people who possess all three of these characteristics.
Of course, given conservatives’ reliance on this justification for their failure, it was only a matter of time before inquiring minds wanted to know “Just who are the 47%; i.e. how do they break down?” A Google search turned up a plethora of articles, many of which fed off of data collected by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. They will be enumerated here.
To begin, it is a serious bending of the truth for anyone to assert that the 47% pay no income taxes. The more accurate statement would be they pay no federal income taxes. Of course, those among the 47% who have jobs from which they draw a paycheck, have FICA (the payroll tax) deducted from it. In turn, that money helps fund the Social Security Trust, Medicare and Medicaid programs. Additionally, these same people pay a luxury tax on such items as alcohol and cigarettes, and depending on where they live, pay state and such local taxes as school and property levies. Among all citizens, 28.3% fall into this group. Mind you, that means that they make up over half of the 47%ers.
If these people are earning a living, how is it possible that they can escape paying federal income tax? The answer is that by law, what they earn falls below the minimum amount ($20,000) that can be taxed. Even if members of this group have incomes that exceeds this minimum, they can avoid taxes by taking all sorts of legal deductions for such items as student loans, mortgages and dependents. If you are one of those who believe that these folks should still be paying some income tax anyway, demonizing them is a misguided waste of energy. CHANGE THE TAX CODE!!!
And what of the remainder of the 47%? They are comprised of the elderly (10.3%) living on a small, fixed income, the non-elderly with incomes below the IRS minimum (6.9%), and less than 1% that the Tax Policy Center described only as “other”). Presumably, this last 1% constitute the true “deadbeats”.
As an interesting and frankly extraordinary sidebar to the foregoing, let’s consider the top ten states with the largest percentages of non-taxpayers. In no particular order, they are Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. If you check the Electoral College map for this past election, you’ll find that eight of the 10 states cited, all voted for Romney!!! Apparently without knowing it, the man was damning the very states that were to become bastions of his support.
That the former governor’s “47% speech” was far out of step with the facts can now be taken as a given. That it was politically foolish, intemperate, and ill-advised is just as certain. The only thing that the candidate omitted was a paraphrasing of Marie Antoinette’s heartless remark during the French Revolution; i.e. “Let them (the rebels) eat cake.”
Governor, if you ever run for elected office again, show the general electorate a lot more respect and above all else, watch your mouth when anyone within the sound of your voice is holding a phone-cam.