First and foremost - this note is in response to this video:
http://youtu.be/XnB0NZzl5HA - Mitt Romney hidden camera footage talking about "47% of America" to a room full of millionaires.
Now for the breakdown:
The 47% number he is using throughout the video is one that stems from the conservative talking point "47 percent of Americans Pay No Income Taxes". A statement that he repeats himself at the end of the video.
So, with that, who exactly is in this 47% he's talking so illy of? It's easy to find 18% of it, which is about how much of the population actually doesn't manage to pay any taxes into the federal government through income. (More on that in a second). But more than half of that 18% is elderly folks who paid into the system in the past, another reasonable portion being students, and then - "oh my gosh" - some people are actually lucky enough to be so poor as not to owe Uncle Sam a cut. Those lucky duckies living the dream. Must be nice.
So, wait a second? Where is the other 29% of Americans Mitt Romney is talking about? Who are these dependent, entitled, unteachable, self-victimizing, not even worth worrying about people? Well, I think it's time I admitted something. If not for myself, for the sake of transparency and my journalistic integrity. I have to admit that...he's talking about me. He's talking about my girlfriend. He's talking about my best friend. He's actually talking about the majority of people I personally know within my age range. If you're making under $25,000 a year, he's likely talking about you as well. ( http://abcn.ws/QygFUU ) If you've ever gotten a (proportionally) fat refund check at the end of the year because you were working a low-wage job just to get by, he's likely talking about you too. Working through school? You're a dirty 47%-er. Working an entry level job in the career of your choosing? You succubus scum. Just plain lucky enough to have a job? I bet you get the government to cover your horses dressage lessons too! Oh wait...
What that number really means, and therefor what he should say if he wants to even pretend he's not being willfully manipulative, is: '47% of Americans pay no income taxes beyond Payroll taxes (which includes Medicare, Social Security and Unemployment), state taxes, and local taxes'. Since that may be a bit long-winded they could at the least fairly reasonably say "47% of Americans pay no federal taxes beyond Payroll taxes" and it would still ring true. But I guess that just doesn't have the same bite when you want to denigrate as much of the lower class as possible in order to cater, patronize and vindicate the beliefs of all the wealthy doners in the room. So, not only is that not what he said, he painted 47% of America as dependent, self-victimizing, and personally irresponsible.
And if you think it's unfair to assume he was being purposefully manipulative with that message, I guess one could tell themselves he really meant it...
You can stop reading here if you were only interested in my original headline. My main point has been made. My message above was the most annoying, blood-boiling narrative I took from seeing him say to a room full of wealthy doners, so bluntly, what he was always skirting along the lines of saying to the general public. After looking around online and seeing people only debunk (err...re-debunk?) the number itself (among other hysterical, hypocritical call-outs) I felt the need to write this perspective.
Pheewwww. Feels good to get that off my chest. I could hardly handle the weight of my own self loathing for the past 8 hours since Romney put me in my place. The idea that, as a technically "self-employed" worker, after paying the full Social Security tax of 10.2 percent myself, the rest of my pay-roll taxes, I don't quite hit the 14% tax rate that Romney payed last year until after I throw in my State and Local taxes -- I can hardly live with myself. I don't even deserve to live in this nation if I'm not wealthy enough to have the majority of my budget go to things other than food, transportation and shelter. He should probably send me over seas until I learn how to fend for myself. But, meh, maybe I'll just find one of his bank accounts while I'm over there instead. I mean, he said himself he's 'not worried about me' so I'd probably get away with it.
Another Obvious Thought That I've Already Somewhat Hit On:
The use of that blunt sentence ("47% of Americans Don't Pay Taxes") is a misunderstanding of it's origin at best, a lie of omission at worst, and a blatant attempt at vindicating self-congratulatory millionaires into giving him money at it's 'worse than the worst'. Due to the fact that this is not a new statistic to offer to the public circle and has been discussed, dissected and debunked many times before, the idea that this was anything other than the "worse than the worst" scenario, one would have to assume Mitt Romney is indeed a robot designed by the Koch Brothers.
Laundry List of "Oh, By the Way"s that hit home on this topic:
- The states with the most people that ACTUALLY don't pay taxes: vote Republican! http://bit.ly/OyKrHl
- Romney thinks that he should be exalted for his over-seas bank accounts and tax manipulation to get to such a low number (as someone worth over 250 Million Dollars) http://yhoo.it/QVOWRw
- His father stood for the exact opposite and was actually the Presidential Candidate that set the standard for releasing years of tax returns. http://wapo.st/Lf9Bhe
- More than 20,000 people made more than $200,000 in 2009 and managed not to pay any taxes! No fair: those lazy 47%-ers should be exhaulted for their tax do-diligence too Mr. Romney. http://usat.ly/o6jAnk
"Hey look! It's that stuff I wrote that totally proves I am capable of writing impactful, clear messages." -CB