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Seattle residents say, 'We're the 47 percent'September 18, 2012 @ 4:35 pm (Updated: 9:05 am - 9/19/12 )
"Mr. Romney we pay taxes, I am part of that 47 percent," says Roger Brockway, who put up signs in front of his north Seattle home in response to the Republican presidential candidate's much-talked-about statement or gaffe, depending on your perspective.
While Mitt Romney says he was only talking about campaign strategy, and the voters he's trying to reach with his message, a lot of people took his point the wrong way. Some are offended and have started a satirical "We are the 47 percent movement" through social media sites like Tumblr.
In a video from a private fundraiser, made pubic by Mother Jones, Mitt Romney was captured making comments about people who don't pay income tax in America. Here's Romney's quote:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, 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. These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Brockway, a small business owner, says the Romney comment to him seemed, "extremely divisive" and it struck him as "pandering - telling people what they wanted to hear."
"Everybody needs help from time to time whether it's from the government, from religious groups, from your neighbors," Brockway says. "A hand up isn't always a hand out, it can be the right thing to do."
"I was an undecided voter, leaning away from Romney, and now it's a sure thing," says Mark Cherberg. "I'll vote for Obama and hope for the best."
"The comment shows me how out of touch he (Romney) is. Who doesn't pay taxes? My sister is unemployed so she collects benefits, but other than that my family has always tried to get by without help, and that isn't easy on a teacher's salary supporting six people," says Jonathan Wilder.
Is it true that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax? The answer depends on whether you focus on the statistic, 47 percent, or the phrase "no income tax."
The Tax Policy Center provides data showing that in 2011, 46.4 percent of American households paid no federal income tax. True statement. The same data shows, however, that nearly two-thirds of households that paid no income tax did pay payroll taxes and most people also pay some combination of state, local, sales, gas and property taxes. They may not be paying federal income taxes, but they are paying something.
Only about 18.1 percent of American households paid neither federal income taxes nor payroll taxes in 2011. Of those, about 10 percent were elderly and almost 7 percent were households earning less than $20,000 year, which include low-income families and students.
In defending his comment Tuesday night, Romney told Fox News, "I do believe that we should have enough jobs and enough take-home pay such that people have the privilege of higher incomes that allow them to be paying taxes. I think people would like to be paying taxes."
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By LINDA THOMAS
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