Who are the 47 percent?

Updated
Who are the 47 percent?
Who are the 47 percent?

Mitt Romney is defending comments secretly recorded at a private fund-raiser in which he criticized supporters of President Barack Obama as people “believe they are victims” who are dependent on government.

The newly leaked video, first obtained by Mother Jones, was shot from a concealed camera without Romney’s knowledge as he spoke at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Boca Raton, Florida, home of private equity mogul Marc Leder in May 2012.

When Romney was asked how he’s going to convince voters that they need to take care of themselves, he responded:

“There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to food, to housing, to you name it.  It’s an entitlement and that the government should give it to them, and they will vote for this president no matter what.”

Where does Romney get 47 percent?

“These are people who pay no income tax.”

Romney is probably referring to a 2011 study by the Tax Policy Center that fully 46 percent of Americans would pay no federal individual income tax.     

Conservatives have often cited percentage, leaving the very false impression that nearly half of Americans pay no taxes at all.

Right-wing blogger Erick Erickson, for example, used it to start a “We are the 53 Percent” campaign in response to “We are the 99 Percent” movement launched by Occupy Wall Street.

However, many of those who don’t pay a federal individual income tax do pay plenty of other taxes, including federal payroll taxes, state/local sales taxes, gas taxes and excise taxes.  

Who are the 47 percent?

Many are seniors who’ve left the workforce, Americans with disabilities who can’t work, students who have not yet entered the workforce and low-income and middle-class families who take advantage of tax credits Republicans have traditionally supported.   

Check out the chart to the right from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and click here for a series of excellent charts from the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.

So who are these 47 percent of Americans “who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to food, to housing, to you name it” that Romney refers to?

Is he talking about people who receive government entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), veterans benefits and unemployment insurance?

If so, most of those programs are both paid for by and benefit the working middle and lower classes.  They are not moochers.  

As Ezra reports, only about 7.9 percent of households are not paying any federal taxes at all. That’s usually because they’re either unemployed or on disability or students or are very poor.

Ed will have more charts, plus analysis from David Cay Johnston of Reuters tonight on The Ed Show tonight at 8pET on msnbc.

Mitt Romney

Who are the 47 percent?

Updated