September 18, 2012

The 47 Percent

Mitt Romney stated that 47 percent of Americans don't pay federal taxes. I don't know about you, but that got my attention. I heard that and thought, "Wait a minute. That can't be right." Well, to give the devil his due, it turns out Mitt is right ... kind of, sort of.

The 47-percent figure comes from a report by the Tax Policy Center (TPC),  a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. Their analysis shows that about half of the 47 percent who pay no federal tax don't make enough money, when you look at their level of income and the deductions they take. A family of four earning less than $26,400 won't pay any Federal taxes. And you have to make over $12 an hour to make that much, which you and I know a lot of people aren't making. Of course, there's the 13 million or so unemployed Americans who are making $0 per hour, so they are part of that 47 percent.

The other half of those who don't pay taxes are benefiting from tax breaks that benefit all income groups to some extent or another. About 75 percent of this group get such breaks because they are either elderly or because they are low income families with children.

So let's review the videotape. Yes, it is more or less true that 47 percent of Americans pay no Federal taxes. (Of course, they may well pay other taxes, such as payroll taxes, excise taxes or state taxes, but that's another story.) The major groups in that 47 percent are the elderly, the unemployed, lower middle class families, and the working poor.

Surely there is something of a natural constituency for Mitt among such a large group of people. Isn't he counting on his promise of more jobs to win votes? Wouldn't that appeal to those who aren't working? Isn't he promising better jobs? Wouldn't that appeal to the underemployed? Aren't older people more conservative by nature? They typically aren't seen as a slam-dunk for Obama. For Mitt to say these folks are never going to vote for him is hard to understand.

All of this begs Mitt's basic problem. There are a whole slew of Republican voters who don't much like him. He still hasn't won over the conservatives or the Tea Party. You have to wonder how many of them will take the time to vote for him. Then you have the 47 percent who "will vote for this president no matter what." And the women and Latino numbers aren't looking too good, either. You have to wonder just who will be voting for Mitt on election day?

1 comment:

  1. I am among that 47 % and I am considered very low income for Ma. I pay taxes on my pension and I do not receive welfare or medicaid I also pay for my health insurance. That Man is so far out in left field he hasn't got a clue.