In a video of a May fundraiser, Mitt Romney says his message can't connect with the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income tax. Mostly, these people are poor or elderly.
In the video GOP presidential nominee Mr. Romney talks about the difficulties of winning over people he says are “dependent” on government and see themselves as “victims.”
“Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect,” he said.
Romney’s right about the non-income-taxed slice of Americans. It’s an issue that conservatives as a whole have been talking about for some time. About 46 percent of US households owed no income tax in 2011, according to an estimate from the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center. In 2008 and 2009 – the epicenter of the Great Recession – that figure was even higher, at 51 percent.
That last figure hints at one aspect of this number – it’s been boosted quite a bit by recent hard economic times. In 2007, the figure was 40 percent, which is closer to its recent historic level.
Still, 47 percent is a lot of people. Who are they?