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Mitt Romney & the 47% — What He Got Wrong & Why

Holly W. Kelley of Darien writes that of course Mitt Romney needs to worry about that 47 percent who don't pay income taxes—for one thing, it's growing fast as more Baby Boomers retire and live long.

By Holly W. Kelly

Many have written about how Mitt Romney’s quote regarding the 47 percent who do not pay taxes from the point of view of who those 47 percent are.  I am more concerned with the fact that he said “He doesn’t need to worry about those 47 percent”.  Because the point of even thinking about how many people do not pay federal income tax is to consider the impact that lack of revenue has on the bottom line and what are the trends.

Those who have broken down the 47 percent have pointed out that about 10 percent of these people are seniors collecting Social Security.  Why should a presidential candidate care about that 10 percent?  Consider the number of people who will begin collecting Social Security in the next 10 years.   According to the 2010 Census, 12.7 percent of the U.S. Population is now 65 years and older (this indicates that only 2.7 percent pay taxes). 

But the real problem is that there are another 11.6 percent of Americans reported between the ages of 55 and 64.  Sure some of the 12.7 percent over 65 will be deceased but only 3.4 percent of that 12.7 percent are 80 years old and older. 

So for arguments sake let’s assume that 4 percent of those now 65 and older pass away in the next 10 years (my grandfather lived to be 103 years old).  If that happens we will still have 20.3 percent of Americans over 65 collecting Social Security and most not paying taxes. 

There are many myths about Social Security and many doomed warnings that it is a broken system. Those arguments aside, we must consider the tax impact that our aging population may have. 

This is why any presidential candidate should care about those who do not pay taxes. Mr. Romney might also want to consider the fact that many of those collecting Social Security are conservative older Americans who agree with him on many points and will likely vote for him. 

I doubt you will find too many of them who consider themselves freeloaders after working and paying taxes for 40-50 years. 

Editor's note; Holly W. Kelly, M.S.W. is a Darien resident. The links in this article were added by the editor.

jean D September 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM
This is such bull. I think we all know Mr Romney was talking about the ner-do-wells who abuse today's system. Not the ones who PAID into it-that is not GOVT dependence. SOCIAL SECURITY is NOT GOVT assistance-it is THEIR money. How soon the brainwashed forget and can spin a tale.
Chris B. September 20, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Good piece!
Lucy Riccardo September 20, 2012 at 08:34 PM
SOCIAL SECURITY is NOT GOVT assistance-it is THEIR money. Tell that to Mitt, he doesn't seem to get it! PEOPLE WHO GET FEDERAL BENEFITS What Romney said: "There are 47 percent ... who are dependent on government ... who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it." Whether they are dependent and believe they are entitled to anything is arguable, but Romney's statistic is about right — 49 percent of the U.S. population receive some kind of federal benefit, including Social Security and Medicare, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Looking only at people who receive benefits that are based on financial need, such as food stamps, the portion is smaller — just over a third of the population. Many people get more than one type of benefit. The biggest programs and their percentage of the U.S. population: —Medicaid: 26 percent —Social Security: 16 percent —Food stamps: 16 percent —Medicare: 15 percent —Women, Infants and Children food program: 8 percent
Dave September 20, 2012 at 10:21 PM
If he were talking about the "ner-do-wells" then he should have used a lower percentage. To lump them in with honest citizens who are collecting benefits that they have been promised for years is a scare tactic.
sebastian dangerfield September 21, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Chris B Its a terrible piece. When you truncate a quote and then moralize about the truncated quote, that is taken out of context-----its just utter crap. If you listen to the speech, he is talking about his election chances--- he at one point says, I dont have to worry about the 47% --meaning- I know they wont vote for me. People like Holly Kelly--Staunch Democrat from Darien---misuse these truncated quotes for political advantage---but I think the end result is more commentary about who these people who purposefully spread untruths about what is said, are. They are not pursuing policies that better society. They are engaging in petty, dishonest politics. Here is the full video--the 47% remarks are right near the end, if you dont want to watch the whole thing. He clearly is not saying as President he doesnt worry about them--he is saying as a candidate he knows he doesnt have to worry about trying to get their vote... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/mitt-romney-47-percent-full-video-_n_1893615.html
Preston Bealle September 21, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Luca, you are right, he was talking about election mechanics and that 47% would not vote for a Republican no matter what..it's the 6-8% in the middle he has to speak to. Obama has undoubtedly had the same discussion with his team many times.
max September 21, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Luca has it correct. Many people, including this author, did NOT listen to the speech or even the entire sentence from which the quote was removed. The presidential hopeful was speaking about vote getting, and that he felt he should not waste his time trying to get votes for the group that is mentioned. It is prioritizing his strategy for getting votes to become president and is not about how he plans to perform the duties of the office.
Diane Wilkinson Trefethen September 24, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Luca is only half right. True, M.R. was talking about getting votes but the bottom line is that he was DISMISSING us, brushing us off as if he were flicking dandruff off the shoulder of a black suit. The article is half right too. He says about that 47%, "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." What an arrogant statement! How dare he say that about those of us collecting SS, "we don't take personal responsibility and care for" our lives. Or those of us who are out of work through no fault of our own or who take part time jobs because that's all we can get. Yes he phrased his disdain in terms of votes, but it WAS disdain. He said we see ourselves as victims that government should take care of, that we believe we are "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it." I think it takes a heck of a lot of chutzpah for someone who is making millions and paying somewhere between 0% and 12% in taxes to disparage others who don't pay taxes because they are retired or can't find work.
MAC September 24, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Diane, Romney paid 14 % Fed. taxes last year. That's a distraction though, and so is the 47 % comments issue. Electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, "America's Comeback Team," is our only hope for returning the U.S. to Prosperity, and restoring the American "Exceptionalism" that Obama has nearly destroyed. If you are not fully aware of the existential Muslim threat to our survival, please watch "The Project," a two-day documentary on this, on TheBlazetv.com (free 2 week memb. available) or on Dish Network channel 212, starting Wednesday. Obama's assessments of democracy coming out of middle eastern riots are as deluded as Woodrow Wilson's support of the Russian Revolution which brought Communist dictators into power! Obama apologizes to and courts favor with despots and dictators, as vividly illustrated when he caressed the knee of Medvedev while overheard telling him "I'll have more flexibility after the Election." The reply was "I'll transmit to Vladimir [Putin]." Anyone who has been deceived about Obama and wants the Truth, and to know "why is President Obama hell-bent on seeing America fail?" could start by watching the movie "2016: Obama’s America" http://www.2016themovie.com/theaters/ Don't delay, though. It was playing at about 20 CT theaters, down to a dozen now. If given a second term, Obama will completely destroy our democratic (representative) Republic and any semblance of the great and unique nation given to us by the Founders!
sebastian dangerfield September 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Diane So, just to make sure, if he had not said that--(he said it like 5 months ago, but the video curiously is being released now--hmmm--yeah thats not manipulative) you would have voted for him? Or, is he right, that he cant reach out to people who feel the way you do? I am semi-retired. I pay taxes...but even if I didnt , I know who he is speaking about. And its not me. This intellectual dishonesty---this twisting of words and concepts (did you watch video?) and then trying very hard to nail the guy for lacking compassion? You know, Diane his tax rate (even though you dont) but then you must also know the man gives 4 mio to charity--but doesnt stop there. To then label him as disparaging those who are not wealthy, is simply wrong. I know what he is talking about. You , most likely know what he is talking about. because it feeds into their attitude of how can i scam the system more---that is what he is talking about.
Diane Wilkinson Trefethen September 24, 2012 at 11:43 PM
@MAC There is very little of truth in the Fascist neocon rants just as there is very little of truth in the Socialist leftwing rants. They have agendas and if you want the truth, you have to look to those who value Truth instead of those who hype political or religious demagoguery. The Old Testament has its violence, retribution and hatred. Christianity has its Crusades, Inquisition and Witch Trials. Muslims are stuck with their version of evil. What's new? More importantly, this article wasn't about Obama or Muslims or taxes or the Russian Revolution. It was about Mittens dismissing almost half the country as ne'er do wells who just want to leech off the government. Maybe YOU are rich and comfortable but some Americans aren't. They make do as best they can. Do not think for a minute that any thinking Senior on SS believes that R&R's fixed fee voucher plan is fair or reasonable. It isn't. Or that anyone who bothers to look at the numbers would blame the horrendous national debt on the considerably smaller amounts spent on social welfare programs while giving a free ride to the military-industrial complex's excesses. Two unfunded wars, not Food Stamps, are why we are in such a hole. So now by demonizing the half of the country who is the least able to defend itself, Romney hopes to convince you that you and he deserve to get and stay rich by filling the tax code with loopholes and that the lower classes deserve to be poor because they're lazy. And you buy that. So sad.
sebastian dangerfield September 25, 2012 at 12:06 AM
"You didnt build it!!!" dems all say ---come on--he was just saying you didnt do it by yourself." Im not gonna be able to connect with the 47% who dont pay taxes. _-meaning the low tax message, is not going to resonate with people who pay zero. But alas anytime a liberal has an opportunity to distinguish how compassionate and caring they are --and truly committed they are for helping the less fortunate--they leap --no YELL how terrible Republicans are. All intellectual dishonesty. Cant we have a debate on the real issues? its basically about do we stimulate the economy by cutting taxes or by increasing spending? Do we make government the solver of all problems? Are they honest? Efficient? Do we want government involved in social issues? Do we want government legistlating women's bodies? Do we want to be an imperialistic power? A policeman to the world? And then be honest in what the mantra is for both parties. Republicans suck on their hypocritical stance with respect to dereguatlion and yet regulating social issues. Keep government out of everythng. democrats suck when it comes to the economy and the future of our country fiscally. Anyone who knowingly talks about the economy is fine and the stock market is great, is not really being honest with respect to how Obama has paid back all his cronies and wasted tons of money on paying back unions and other special interest groups.
Mitt D. Myth September 25, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Mitt Romney has disqualified himself from being president. In July, the GOP presidential nominee was asked by ABC News about the tax rate he's paid over the years. "I've paid all the taxes required by law," Romney responded, refusing to give an exact or estimated rate. Romney continued: "I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president." Romneys intentionally failed to deduct about $1.75 million in charitable contributions in order to keep their effective tax rate above 13% (according to this reporter, had he taken the full deduction to which he was entitled, his rate would have been about 9%). [UPDATE: Here is the statement from Romney's tax guy explaining that, yes, the Romneys limited their claim of a deduction in order to increase their effective tax rate.] That’s an obviously political move, since he’s talked a lot about paying a 13% tax rate and it would look bad for him now to release a return showing that he actually paid a lower rate last year. But what’s much, much worse is this quote from Romney himself earlier this year: At an NBC debate in January, Romney argued that there’s nothing wrong with minimizing taxes. “I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more,” he said. “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”
Preston Bealle September 25, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Mr. Myth, nice try but that's just wacky. He paid the right amount as specified on the form he filled out. He is not obligated to deduct charitable donations, that is just available to him. It was predictable someone would choose to knock him for donating $4 MILLION. He didn't deduct it all and thus helped all of us by donating to some great charities and paying a large tax bill, per the tax code. Nobody has to deduct everything they could, including lunches, car mileage, dry cleaning while traveling on business, it's there if you want to track it and claim it.
Mitt D. Myth September 25, 2012 at 03:02 AM
That decision contradicts a pledge Romney made during an interview in July, when he told ABC News he would not pay more in taxes "than are legally due. And, frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires." Romney made a similar remark in January during a GOP primary debate, when he said, "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."
Preston Bealle September 25, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Yes, you noted the exact same thing in your earlier post and it was answered, so not sure why you typed it all in again. Understand your point but it won't wash, he's not going to be "disqualified" for anything relating to donating $4 million to charity. How about considering whether that's an admirable gesture as opposed to trying to recast it as some kind of evil tax dodge, when it's just the opposite? There's really no logic to going in that direction.
Mitt D. Myth September 25, 2012 at 04:02 AM
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” So wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald — and he didn’t just mean that they have more money. What he meant instead, at least in part, was that many of the very rich expect a level of deference that the rest of us never experience and are deeply distressed when they don’t get the special treatment they consider their birthright; their wealth “makes them soft where we are hard.”
sebastian dangerfield September 25, 2012 at 05:36 AM
diane the problem is that you seem to buy the rhetoric that you cant even seem to recite properly. In your post you seem to claim to value truth...yet I asked pretty clearly--were you going to vote for Mitt, before he made that statement about the 47%? Incapable of answering? Or just that , by answering you may somewhat dilute your position, and validate Romney's actual statement? As to the unfunded wars--this is where you made a mistake as to what MSNBC is telling you---unfunded? What exactly does that mean? The truth, which you say is important is that mr bush (that guy who is blamed for everything in the past and future) went from a public debt of 3.7 trillion dollars and ended 8 years later at 6.3 trillion. That is 2.6 trillion. Bad right? Including 9/11 homeland security/bush tax cuts costly wars etc...thats an average of 300 bio a year that was added to the debt. And includes the Tarp program that really kicked in for Obama. Now lets look at where we are now--- gone from 6.3 to 11.3 trillion. That is in 3.7 years. Thats 5 trillion borrowed in less than half the time. Now ? What abut the costly wars, versus small social spending? You are getting your analysis from msnbc not from reality. Jobs created under obama? he says 4.5 mio. True. But he forgets that he lost 5.6 mio for a net loss of 1.1 mio. Funny how the main stream media does not correct this ridiculous deception. GM? Owes tens of billions why is that a success?
sebastian dangerfield September 25, 2012 at 05:43 AM
If gm is a success by costing american taxpayers 50 bio and the banks are a terrible bailout by paying all the money back, can someone explain why the one that didnt work is the good one? (and dont tell me that it saved the auto industry. that is simply untrue. GM and Chrysler would have continued making cars--they simply would have had to cut pensions to retirees. Hey thats what happens when companies go bankrupt. taxpayers owed the gm retirees ntg. but we paid for them, because obama owed unions. You know how dick cheney pushed for wars and oil beause of haliburton and that was wrong? YES IT WAS WRONG. Obama is also wrong for his crony capitalism...for the same reasons. But going back to debt and military budget that obama increased by 200 bio dollars --can you please engage in reality. obama speaks like a liberal about defense budgets--but there is no spending he doesnt love. So if you hate neocons--hate obama. Im totally against military budget--but i dont hold back , when i find out who the players are.
sebastian dangerfield September 25, 2012 at 05:50 AM
mitt d myth if the guy donated 0 to charity he'd be wrong. if he pays too much he is wrong. Why not admit--no matter what this guy does, he is going to be wrong? Its another great gotcha moment --mitt says he should not be faulted for paying his legal amount. President Barack Obama: UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? It's the Post Office that's always having problems." –attempting to make the case for government-run healthcare, while simultaneously undercutting his own argument, Portsmouth, N.H., Aug. 11, 2009 He obviously wants to make the whole country more like the Post Office. this guy is a dope. who would say we need more government run things while understanding that the post office is doing poorly and private industry does it fine?
Diane Wilkinson Trefethen September 25, 2012 at 08:00 AM
@luca You are being unnecessarily hostile and provocative. You asked whether I had intended to vote for Romney at 7:29pm and then 6 hours later slammed me for not responding... like all I do is watch Patch for YOU to make requests of me. I'm not concerned about diluting "my" position. Romney is an effete snob, which by itself doesn't disqualify him to be President. However, in my opinion, dismissing almost half the population of the United States does. The President is not the President of just the rich and the bankers and the employed. S/he must also be President to the unemployed, the disabled, the poor, the retired. So when Romney said, "And so my job is not to worry about those people", yes - he was talking about going after votes. BUT when he said, "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility", he wasn't talking votes. He was simply disparaging 47% of the American people. The answer to your question is "No". I wasn't going to vote for Romney last Spring nor was I planning to vote for Obama. The former equates giving money to his church with being a compassionate soul and the latter has been co-opted and failed to fulfill his promises. ANY third party candidate would be preferable to either of those two and I plan on voting for one. I just wish votes for Barney Sanders would count. As to the rest of your points, none of them had anything to do with the original article and thus can quite safely be ignored.
paul d. September 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Hey Darien Lady (luca) (joyce) whatever- How is it that currently a majority of people in this country think Mitt is an inferior option to a President who by all accounts has been a disappointment? Why is that you pretend to be a man? Why do you delete posts after the fact when you have embarrassed yourself? Why do you keep changing your name? Why do you pretend to be a weight lifter?

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