Politicians, like everyone, sometime flub what they mean to say. But it is difficult for Mitt Romney to dismiss as “off the cuff” his remarks disparaging Americans who don’t pay any federal income taxes. Speaking to wealthy donors earlier this year, Romney said: “There are 47 percent who are with him (President Obama), 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 health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.” Romney also said he will never convince those people “they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” After a video from the event became public, Romney said Monday that his comments were not “elegantly stated.” But do they reflect what he believes? Or was he just saying it to pander to wealthy Republicans? Though nearly half of American households do not pay federal income tax, that does not mean they are getting a free ride and expect the government to provide everything for them. Most of the people in this group are working but simply earn too little money to owe taxes (in part because exemptions and credits were increased by the Bush tax cuts). Though they don’t pay federal income taxes, they do pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, and other state and local taxes. Senior citizens are another large portion of this group. Are they moochers?
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