In a private fund-raiser, presidential candidate Mittens Romney said this:
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."
You can hear him say it on the Mother Jones site.
Let me see who might be on that list of the little piglets at the teats of the big government sow. Given that corporations are people, too, how about these guys: Boeing and Time Warner? According to an MSNBC story both of these firms managed to pay zero federal income tax during at least some years in the last ten. Many other corporate behemoths paid teeny-weeny federal income taxes. That's because they are moochers.
And what about all those victims Romney mentions? Like almost half of all Americans? Well, quite a few of them are retired people or students. Others are poor enough not to have to pay federal income taxes. Yet others are middle class but use the child deduction or education deductions and end up with no federal income tax liability. Most of these people pay other taxes, of course.
How did we create all these moochers, anyway? It turns out a lot to do with Republican (and some Democratic) tax policies. Republicans want to give tax breaks to the very rich, but they can't quite get away with just rewarding that group, so the tax breaks must be extended down the income pyramid. And the consequence is that lots of people then no longer pay federal income taxes at all. Because that was the only way to cut the federal income taxes for the wealthiest tax-payers. But as Leonhardt points out, even many in the poorest 20% of earners pay various other federal taxes, such as payroll taxes. This means that Romney's target group does not consist of people dependent on the government, for the most part, and it does not consist of people who pay no taxes and just receive, receive and receive.
But you knew all that already, my erudite and charming readers.
Digby has two good pictures of the actual situation of those who pay no federal income tax. One is a table which spells out the characteristics of all the affected groups, another is a map which shows us where most of the "moochers" are located. You can guess what that map shows.
OK. Now I really want to see Romney's tax forms for the last twenty years or so. Was he ever a moocher?
Facts (or their absence) is not really the interesting bit about Romney's statement. It's the idea that almost all Americans are dependent on the government, regard themselves as victims and want to be fed and housed like baby birds but for life. But then people who are born with trust funds are in the very same basic situation, right?