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Romney Jumps The Shark?

Conservatives in Louisiana will no doubt revel in this video of Mitt Romney writing off 47% of America because they “pay no taxes” and take no personal responsibility for their lives. These freeloaders, according to Romney, will OBVIOUSLY vote for Barack Obama, so he can’t talk to them.

In the spirit of our mutual obsession with this video, I hope they help us spread it far and wide:

And where are all these “free-loaders,” you know, the 47% that don’t contribute and just mooch?


Oops, looks like #Louisiana is one of those “moocher” states. But we knew that. Who are these “non-payers,” this “47%”….

The Tax Policy Center and Ezra Klein help us out here. 

Here’s what we have:

— 53.6 percent of households pay the federal income tax. Presumably Romney is okay with these folks.

— 28.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax, but they do pay the payroll tax. That means they don’t need Romney to convince them to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” They already have jobs.

Most of the households in this group don’t pay any income tax because they qualify for enough deductions and credits that their liability has shrunk to zero. See this Tax Policy Center report for more, which gives an example of “a couple with two children earning less than $26,400. They get an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700, and that takes their liability to zero.” Indeed, it’s worth noting that many of these deductions and credits were part of the Bush tax cuts, which Romney favors.

— 10.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax because they’re elderly. A large majority of these households aren’t taxed on their Social Security benefits, thanks to various deductions in the tax law. By and large, retirees have earned this benefits by paying into the system over many years. If Mitt Romney secretly thinks that these households are moochers, he has a funny way of showing it, since he keeps insisting that he doesn’t want to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits for those over the age of 65.

— That leaves 6.9 percent of households which are non-elderly and have incomes less than $20,000 per year and aren’t paying the payroll tax. These households pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes. Perhaps Romney thinks that these people should pay more in federal taxes. It’s hard to say. But this is a relatively small fraction of Americans.

A graph might help:

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