Mitt Romney’s Description of Americans Who Pay No Federal Income Taxes Doesn’t Fit
Mitt Romney painted an inaccurate portrait of the “47 percent of Americans [who] pay no income tax” when he spoke — and was secretly videotaped — at a May fund-raiser depicting almost half the country as Obama-loving “victims” who feel entitled to government handouts.
Romney’s statistic accurately approximates the percentage of US households that do not pay federal income taxes. But he went on to suggest that this 47 percent relies on government help and refuses to “take personal responsibility” — an assertion that ignores the fact that most of these households pay payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and some are service members in combat zones.
Almost every American adult pays some combination of excise, property, sales, and state or local income taxes.
And contrary to Romney’s assertion that these are “people who will vote for the president no matter what,” many Americans who pay no federal income taxes are members of important Republican voting blocs — including seniors and residents of the Bible Belt.
“It’s empirically not accurate,” said John G. Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University. “There are plenty of people who don’t pay federal income taxes who will support him, but he was trying to appeal to the folks in the room.”
Romney was filmed without his knowledge during a $50,000-per-plate dinner in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 17. The liberal magazine Mother Jones obtained footage of the event, posted excerpts and part of the video on its website on Monday, and released the full video of Romney’s remarks on Tuesday.