DN Editorial: Romney's '47 percent' speech is 100 percent offensive

Posted: September 20, 2012

AMONG THE jaw-dropping offenses Mitt Romney committed in his private talk to fundraisers, in which he essentially wrote off half of America - the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes, and who he believes are irresponsible, unable or unwilling to take care of themselves - here the top four:

1. The 46 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes include the very poor, seniors, students, disabled veterans and the unemployed. In other words, they don't have income, or not enough income, to be taxed. That's not to say they don't pay other taxes. When factoring in payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, the poorest fifth of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 17 percent last year; the second-poorest fifth paid an effective tax rate of 21 percent, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

2. Another group of nonpayers of income tax includes those who enjoy reduced rates on capital gains and dividends. Those are the highest-income people, making $532,000 and up, including a few thousand who make at least $2.2 million a year.

3. Romney himself undoubtedly has a team of accountants to ensure he pays as little in income tax as he can. In fact, his tax rate for 2010 was 13.9 percent, far lower than most Americans'. Apparently, it's OK to try to avoid paying income tax if you're rich, but if you're not rich you're a "victim" entitled to "health care, food, housing, you name it."

4. It's disturbing enough that a presidential candidate would have such a dismal view of half the country he hopes to lead - that he pushes the myth that being poor or disabled or old and dependent on government assistance is to be a lazy moocher. But what's even worse is how he not only dismisses this group, but claims "My job is not to worry about those people."

And that's not the job of president of any country we want to live in.

The 33 percent

Two of the six state Supreme Court justices got it right on Tuesday's decision - or rather, non-decision - on the state's voter-ID law. Justices Debra McCloskey Todd and Seamus P. McCaffery provided eloquent dissents to the court's ruling to return the voter-ID issue to a lower court that had earlier upheld the law. Now, despite language in the decision that casts doubt on the viability of the law, the higher court has passed on issuing its own injunction, and kicked it back to the Commonwealth Court. That court has to prove that the state's attempt to provide proper voter IDs, including a new, supposedly more streamlined process, will not disenfranchise voters. Good luck with that: Only 3,300 IDs have been issued since August, a rate that is laughingly low considering that up to a one million state voters would need to get new IDs in order to vote in November's election. (And last we checked, PennDOT had not added one new employee to accommodate the demand.) Todd's dissent was particularly powerful: "This Court abdicates its duty to emphatically decide a legal controversy vitally important to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The eyes of the nation are upon us, and this court has chosen to punt rather than to act. I will have no part of it."

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