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Mathis: Mitt Romney's '47 percent' comment shows contempt for voters

Are you married? Have a job? How about a kid or two? Did you get a tax refund last year because your status as a working parent made you eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit? Congratulations: Mitt Romney thinks you’re a welfare-addicted bum.

See, when Romney talks about those 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, he’s talking about you.

You may not think that’s true, because of course you pay plenty of taxes — there’s the payroll tax that comes out of your check every week, which goes to pay for Social Security. And of course, the world is a maze of taxes for you: Every time you fill up the gas tank or buy a birthday gift for the kid, the price is a little higher because of the extra few cents that go to state or local governments.

Surely Romney is talking about somebody else? Somebody who sits at home and waits for a government check he didn’t earn? Nope. He’s talking about you.

See, to get to that 47 percent number, Romney has to include folks who actually work but didn’t officially pay income taxes because they didn’t earn enough, or because they qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Nearly two-thirds of Romney’s laggardly 47 percent paid payroll taxes.

And to state the obvious: You generally have to be on a payroll to pay the payroll taxes. You have to have a job.

Now: Romney obviously wasn’t taking you into account when he said that 47 percent is “dependent on government” and “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Which is the problem: Romney wasn’t taking you into account. He and the rest of the Republican Party have been so solicitous of so-called “job creators” that they’ve treated job doers rather shabbily. It’s something to think about when you vote in November.

Joel Mathis is a writer in Philadelphia.


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