In his recent "47%" comments, Mitt Romney couldn't manage to be more than half right. He correctly pointed out that many Americans are dependent on government largesse, and that many of them won't vote for him. Okay, that's fair enough, and accurate.
But that's about the only accurate thing he said. In a recent article on this issue, Anthony Gregory correctly pointed out that Romney, of course, doesn't point out that many of his supporters also are welfare queens. He has plenty of supporters who live off the sweat of the taxpayer: Military personnel, old people, and bankers.
Romney also seems to think that poor people don't benefit from lowering taxes, since they don't pay income tax. Uh huh. According to Romney:
the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them
Sorry, but many of these people that Romney thinks "are not paying taxes" are indeed paying taxes. Romney may not know this, given that he doesn't know any actual poor people, but anyone with a minimum-wage job pays income taxes, and plenty of them. They're just called "payroll taxes." Remember that first hourly-wage job you had? Remember how a huge chunk came out of your checks for payroll taxes? Yeah. Those are income taxes, amigo. And everyone who gets wages pays them. Even if you're self-employed and you earn almost no money, you'll still have to pay the "self-employment" tax, which is also a tax on your income.
When conservatives whine about the people not paying taxes, what they're really saying is that half of America should pay more in taxes. What could better illustrate just how much conservatives hate freedom and free markets?
This whole line of reasoning was popularized by a recent Heritage Foundation report that stated “One of the most worrying trends in the Index is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public.” (I blogged on the report here.)
Really? One of the most worrying trends we have is that many people aren't paying "enough" in taxes? Leave it to the conservatives to come up with such a masterful defense of freedom.
Of course that "non-taxpaying" public is much smaller than the report asserts since it excludes payroll taxes, and Romney has no interest whatsoever in cutting payroll taxes, since that would upset old people and truly lessen government revenue.
Nevertheless, this whole Americans-pay-too-little-tax talking point has been popular among conservatives in recent months. As a libertarian, however, I can tell you this: No American is undertaxed.
Note to soc. security recipients: Although the AARP may tell you otherwise, you're on welfare. Since the Social Security "fund" is in deficit, every dime you receive comes straight from the paycheck of someone who is working right now. Also, many of those dimes are coming from people whom Romney defines as people who don't pay taxes.
UPDATE: Writes Tim: "Don’t forget how poor people pay taxes through price inflation. What little money they have doesn’t go very far. Ron Paul taught me about that 'hidden tax that nobody talks about'"