From The Nation:
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says roughly 46 percent of Americans paid no income tax for the last year where numbers are available, 2011. Slightly less than half of those who do not pay take advantage of tax breaks designed to ease the burden on elderly Americans who live on fixed incomes. Roughly a third of them do not pay because they are beneficiaries of tax credits designed to help the working poor and children to get by.
In other words, the Americans who do not pay taxes are, for the most part either low-income workers or retired low- or middle-income workers. They are not dodging tax responsibilities. They are filing forms and taking exemptions that were designed to relieve or eliminate tax burdens for those who are least able to pay.
The Tax Policy Center offers the example of a working couple making minimum wages who have two children and earn under $26,400 a year. Using standard deductions and specific exemptions designed for families in their circumstance, they can file a form that has a zero in the amount due column.
Tens of millions of American households—many of them our hardest-working citizens—find themselves in this category. Remember that, according to the Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty in 2011.
Mitt Romney is not a member of this class of Americans. As a quarter-billionaire, he is part of a multi-generational elite—the most privileged 1 percent of the 1 percent—that has never ever had to worry about making ends meet at the end of the month.
But Mitt Romney has something in common with the working poor.
From Indian Country Today:
A 2010 paper by Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler went further. She found that a large number of program recipients, those actually getting scholarships, subsidized housing, or food stamps, then say they have not used a government social program.
That’s why Romney’s video is so potent politically. It’s one thing to blame American Indians for their plight. It’s another to blame white seniors who vote in large numbers who live on their retirement savings and Social Security.
The fact is Americans – all Americans, not just 53 percent – work harder than the rest of the world. We work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and retire far later than people living in other nations.
But America, like most countries, has a demographic problem. There are more older people than younger people. That fact alone is the reason for the “47 percent.” (And, get this, the benefits from Social Security and Medicare are not generous by international standards. By nearly every measure we rank last in the industrial world.)