We could focus on the fact that his number is almost meaningless when you consider that 37% of Americans are not even in the workforce, and therefore won’t be paying income taxes.
We could even focus on the fact that the taxes paid by the now infamous 47% are mostly regressive in nature, and the burden of these regressive taxes falls squarely on the shoulders of working class Americans.
We could focus on all of that, but we won’t.
Mitt Romney has shown time and time again that he is nothing but a corporate suit. He views living beings as expendable; people are merely a cog in his machine. When it comes to healthcare and labor rights, they’re simply costs on his balance sheet. The Republican candidate for President stands for policies that strike at the heart of America. He has diminished, decried, and denigrated working class Americans. So we won’t focus on defending where we stand – we will focus on attacking where he stands.
All of this ‘47%’ talk is just more rhetoric coming out of rooms where the average net worth is probably higher than the entire GDP of a small African nation. The smugness, the vaunted sense of self-worth, the idea that they are being leeched from is all a front to hide what they truly are. They’re welfare queens.
There are 47% of the people … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. … Forty-seven percent of Americas pay no income tax. … I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives… And so my job is not to worry about these people.” – Mitt Romney
The Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center estimates that for tax year 2011, the top fifth of the population will receive 66% of the $1.1 trillion in individual tax-expenditure benefits, while the top 1% will snag 24% of the individual tax-expenditure benefits. Whatever injustice they feel by being asked to marginally contribute to the well-being of society, they are more than reaping back in the form of extensive deductions, credits, and other write-offs in the federal tax code. They are reaping all the benefits, and paying for precious little of it.
But that’s just money. What about the unseen benefits? What about the legalization of the monopoly? Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the States because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.” Words of wisdom from a time when the Republican Party was not completely sold out to big business and the 1%. There are many ways that the rich in this country take advantage of favorable laws; laws that help them to accumulate even greater wealth. But where is the gratitude when the time comes to contribute back to their country? They respond with all the likeness of Scrooge.
Consider a company like Apple for a moment. Thanks to patents, copyrights, and trademarks they are able to sell $400 phones. But in the absence of such laws (a true free market?), the market for iPhones would be similar to what we see in China. Devices so similar in style and function that they’re nothing short of blatant knockoffs. If Chinese knockoffs were allowed in the U.S., all of Apple’s R&D spending would be for naught as a competitor could essentially reverse engineer their product and build their own without any R&D costs. Our legal system protects Apple from this harm. But where is Apple when it comes time to pay for this protection? They paid an effective rate of less than 10% in taxes last year.
Republicans argue that U.S. spending on military defense is done in part to protect economic freedoms. Fine, then why aren’t the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. willing to pay higher taxes to protect their 35% share? Why is it that the poor and the working class continue to subsidize the lifestyles and security of the wealthy through their blood and through their children who die in the wars to protect the assets of the wealthy?
Finally, all consumption is taxed at some level. There is nobody in this country who consumes zero. Thus, everyone is subject to taxation. The taxes that poor, working class and middle class people are subject to are mainly regressive – that is, the taxes owed actually decrease as the income increases, so those on the lower income levels in reality pay a higher tax burden. Social Security tax, for example, is capped at $110,000. Earnings after that are not subject to the tax, yet workers still accrue benefits based on earnings higher than $110k. They pay less but benefit more.
Tell me again that middle class Americans are “entitled.” Tell me again how these people “play victim,” dependent on the government.
Sales tax, too, is a regressive tax. It is unavoidable, everyone must pay it. You cannot be a tax cheat when it comes to sales tax. Because most people in America need to consume every dollar they earn – groceries, gas, school supplies, utilities – every dollar is subject to tax. But if you’re a millionaire, you will not need to consume every dollar, so much of your money will go untaxed.
These tax ideas just won’t work for most Americans – at least if you’re not in the top 1% of income earners.
Democrats don’t need to defend their position. Working class Americans shed their blood, sweat, and tears so that a few can live in extreme comfort and luxury. We don’t need to account for ourselves. It is Mitt Romney and his ilk who need to stop obfuscating about the true welfare queens. They need us more than we need them. The 47% allows Mitt Romney to be the 1%.
And frankly, it’s time we see a little more gratitude.
Photo credit : Gage Skidmore, cc
[author] KIENAN MICK is a resident of the beautiful, lake filled Twin Cities. He has a degree in Economics from the University of Minnesota, and recently finished a MS in Applied Economics from the University of North Dakota. In his spare time, he enjoys amateur photography, nature hikes, and bird watching. His interests lie in “alternative” economic systems where the public, unions, and co-ops take a greater stake in our economy. [/author]