Mitt Romney’s assessment of the 47 percent of Americans he says are “with President Obama no matter what,” because they are dependent on government and feel “entitled” to have the government provide them with healthcare, “food and housing,” and who “pay no income taxes,” is creating political buzz (and not the good kind — when you’re being denounced as a “sneering plutocrat in an upscale New York magazine, that’s not good news…) But who are these Americans who Romney and his conservative brethren believe are mooching off the “productive class?”
You may be surprised by who’s included in the “takers” vs the “makers…”
The troops – U.S. military personnel deployed to war zones are exempt from paying federal taxes on their combat pay. In addition, many states exempt military personnel from state taxes as well. Meanwhile, the U.S. spends more than $87 billion every year on veterans benefits for our military men and women and their families. Why? Well, consider the fact that there are approximately 90,000 U.S. troops currently deployed to Afghanistan, and the U.S. has deployed more than 2 million troops to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, including nearly 800,000 who have been deployed more than once. And most people would argue that the American people are far more dependent on them than they are on “the government.” (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Seniors – According to the Social Security administration, 40 million American seniors receive Social Security checks each month, including 36 million retirees who paid into the program their entire working lives, 2.2 million of their spouses, and 4 million of their widows and widowers. In addition, 49.4 million American seniors are currently receiving Medicare, which is also not taxed by Uncle Sam.
Indeed, the elderly make up HALF of the 18 million Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011. And by the way, seniors happen to be a key part of Mitt Romney’s base… (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Poor people with little or no health insurance – More than 62 million Americans received Medicaid in 2009, according to the Social Security Administration, and much of that assistance wemt to elderly nursing home residents, disabled children and adults, and those needing prescription drug assistance. Of the non-elderly who receive Medicaid assistance, 43 percent are white, 22 percent are black and 28 percent are Hispanic, according to StateHealthFacts.og. And among those households assisted by Medicaid, 61 percent have at least 1 working adult at home, another 16 percent have a part-time worker at home, and 24 percent have no one in the house working. (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
The working poor – More than 46 million Americans participated in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps,”) in June 2012, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
These are the folks Gov. Romney and his fellow conservatives have consistently criticized, but they don’t add up to 47 percent of the country (that would be 141 million people…) And despite being derided as a bunch of (mostly black) “welfare queens”, the majority of SNAP recipients are not black, and do work every day. They just aren’t paid enough wages by the “job creators” to meet their or their children’s food needs. Of SNAP recipients, “33 percent (13.4 million) are white, 22 percent (8.9 million) are black, 16.7 percent (6.6 million) are Hispanic,” (Source: Huffington Post); 47 percent (22 million) are children, so no, they don’t work; 8 percent (3.7 million) are elderly; 20 percent (9.2 million) are disabled; 5 million — or more than half — of the non-elderly adults are employed, while 4.4 million (around 9 percent) are unemployed. (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Disabled kids – The Social Security Administration reports there are just under 14 million Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits, many of whom are disabled adults and children. Somehow it doesn’t seem like a “sense of entitlement” or victimhood is keeping them from “taking personal responsibility” for their lives. (Photo source: Fotolia.com
Disabled adults – According to the Social Security Administration, nearly 5.5 million Americans receive Supplemental Security Income assistance, which the agency describes as “designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.” (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Young couples with kids – Besides retirees, the next largest group of Americans who generally don’t pay federal income taxes are young, working couples with kids. That’s because these families, generally two-income households, often qualify for both the Earned Income Tax Credit, if their combined salaries aren’t above the $22,000 poverty threshold, and the child tax credit. But don’t worry, Mitt, all but about 6 percent of non-elderly adults who don’t pay federal income taxes DO pay taxes: in the form of Social Security and Medicare deductions from their paychecks, state and local taxes, and sales taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Red Staters – Yep. It’s true. The largest concentration of people who pay no federal income tax reside below the Mason-Dixon line. In fact, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, of the ten states with the highest rate of non-payment, only one: Idado, is not in the former Confederate states. The reason: high concentrations of the kind of people who tend to pay no federal income taxes: the elderly, working class families with children, and people living below the poverty line.
By the way, guess where Mitt Romney’s strongest base of support is … (Photo source: Tax Policy Center / The Atlantic Magazine)
Farmers – When it comes to getting a helping hand from Uncle Sam, nobody gets in line ahead of the American farmer — and the bigger the farm, the greater the help. In fact, large corporate agricultural firms (think Archer Daniels Midland) helped boost annual farm subsidies to a staggering $95 billion over the last five years. (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
Corporations – They may not be people, my friend, as Mitt Romney famously said they are, but corporations do share the former Bain Capital CEO’s talent for avoiding taxation. In fact, last year, 30 of America’s biggest corporations were among those who paid no taxes at all. Somehow, though, we don’t think Mr. Romney was including them in his 47 percent put-down… (Photo source: Fotolia.com)
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Who are these dependent Americans who Romney and his conservative brethren believe are sponging off the “productive class?”