Election 2014  
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The Big, Fat Lie Behind Romney's Absurd 47% Argument

The right-wing narrative that 47 percent of households pay no federal income taxes is ridiculous. Here's why.

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More than a fifth of households that pay no federal income taxes are elderly. This is a group that should feel entitled. They paid into Social Security and Medicare during their working years, and are now in retirment. Many are struggling to get by.

There are a good number of rich people among the 47 percent of households that pay no federal income taxes. According to the Tax Policy Center, 18,000 households with incomes over $500,000 – and 4,000 households bringing in over $1 million – paid no federal income taxes in 2011.

Because there is no discrete group of Americans who routinely pay no income taxes year in and year out, it's impossible to say for sure what their partisan loyalties might be, but it's highly likely that a majority of them are Republicans. Around four out of 10 of those households are divided between demographics that lean towards the Dems – students, the poor – and those that lean toward the Republicans – the elderly, disabled veterans. But a majority of that group – six in 10 – are just lower income working families whose incomes fell below a certain threshhold in a given year. And this is where they live:

The Romney campaign is reportedly going to run with this narrative in the coming weeks. The problem is that it only resonates with a minority of hard-right voters who aren't up for grabs anyway. Most Americans understand that half the country isn't indolent and doesn't see themselves of victims of anything but the depression in which we find ourselves today. And that's why, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, only 20 percent of registered voters say that Romney's sneering remarks make them more likely to vote for him, while 36 percent say they're turned of by them.

Joshua Holland is Senior Digital Producer at BillMoyers.com, and host of Politics and Reality Radio. He's the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter

 
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