"You know, folks mock Mitt Romney for what he said, but he’s right. Forty-seven percent of American citizens pay zero in income taxes. It’s just true,"
-- Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)
So, you know that Republican Party "Growth & Opportunity" study that told themselves to be kinder and gentler because the public thinks they're narrow-minded, stuffy, old white men? Well, here's the problem. How do you get your own party to read its own report? And then understand it?
Okay, I'm going to make this easy, because we've been through this before. The implication of Republicans who keep saying this that that the 47% are "free-loaders," getting something for nothing because they don't pay taxes. And they see themselves as "victims" as the mocked Mitt Romney said.
What these Republicans who keep yammering this seem to be ignorant about -- or are just trying to inflame their base (many of whom probably fall in that 47%) is that...61% of those people DO pay taxes, they just pay them as payroll taxes, taken out of their weekly paychecks. And 22% are seniors and are retired. So, right there, that's 83% of the people Republicans are whining about, gone, take them out of the equation, in the blink of an eye. Snap. Easy, clear, obvious. Right?
That leaves only a paltry 17% of the supposed "47%" that far right Republicans are still trying to make some nonsensical point about -- a point, by the way, that helped lose them the last presidential election.
Okay, now this is where math comes in -- but it's really easy math, unless perhaps you're a conservative who doesn't believe in science. This remaining 17% of 47% of the Americans who don't pay "income taxes" works out to just slightly over 9% of the overall entire country. Forgetting for a moment that that figure includes college students -- does the number 9% sound familiar? It should, because...that's just about almost exactly the freaking unemployment rate!!
Yes, it's amazing but true. Unemployed people don't pay income taxes. Who knew? That's what these far right Republicans keep burying themselves into a deep hole over. Whining about freeloading, unemployed American not paying income taxes.
Side note: it's worse than that. Because even unemployed people pay taxes! They pay sales taxes, property taxes, vehicle taxes, and so on. And far from freeloading, it actually hurts them a whole lot more, because things like sales taxes are regressive.
But remarkably, it gets worse still. Because Rep. Woodall couldn't help himself and kept talking. "In fact, the bottom 30% of American citizens profit from the tax code because they're getting refundable tax credits back," Woodall said, adding, "I don’t care if you’re paying a dollar. You need to believe that you are involved in the process, and you need to have skin in the game."
First of all, I think that if Republicans want to understand why they have a narrow-minded, stuffy, old white man really-bad-image, it's because of guys who say that the poorest 30% of the country are "profiting" from the tax code -- let alone profiting in any way.
But further, what the Republican official is saying is that your ability and right to participate in the political process is based on you making money.
I don't like to throw around "un-American" as an easy phrase, but I will say that this is a man who doesn't understand what America is about what makes it great. Well, great, that is, except when you have people like Rob Woodall (R-GA) representing it. Then it's just democratic, because that's the way democracy works. Which is still pretty great, though. Because anyone can be elected. No matter how crass, greedy, mean-spirited and stupid.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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