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Letter from the Editor

The 47 Percent

by Micah Wilkins, Editor in Chief

Earlier this week, a video was leaked that showed presidential candidate Mitt Romney degrade almost half of the American population, further jeopardizing his bid for the presidency. In this video, recorded in May at a fundraiser in a private donor’s home, Romney says, in so many words, that because 47 percent of Americans do not pay income tax, they are lazy and mooching off of the government:

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.

Romney is correct in his statement that about 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes. According to Bloomberg News, the federal income tax makes up about a fourth of the taxes government will collect this year. Though Romney made it sound as if half of Americans pay no taxes whatsoever, this is not the case. According to the New York Times, most families that did not pay income taxes in 2011 were working and did pay federal payroll taxes, which also make up about a fourth of all taxes the government collects. The majority of those who paid neither the federal income tax nor the payroll tax were mostly the elderly.

Many households simply don’t make enough to pay the federal income tax. According to the New York Times, almost 80 percent of those who did not pay federal income taxes in 2011 made less than $30,000. (This is a little more than half of the amount that guests paid for dinner at the Romney fundraiser.)

Also in this video, leaked by Mother Jones, Romney says other questionable things, including a joke about how if he had been born of Mexican parents, “I’d have a better shot at winning this.”

He went on to say another offensive comment, mocking immigrants: “[If] you have no skill or experience…you’re welcome to cross the border and stay here for the rest of your life.”

Romney responded by standing by the statements he made in the fundraiser. His only criticism was that his remarks were “not elegantly stated.”

President Obama appeared on Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday and commented on Romney’s remarks: “My expectation is that if you want to be president, you’ve got to work for everybody, not just for some.”

The release of this video only further demonstrates Romney’s elitism and his overall detachment from American society. With these remarks, Romney is questioning the integrity and the work ethic of half of the people in the United States, one of the hardest working countries in the world.

Though the election is more than a month away, there is only so much Romney can do to improve his approval rating. You can not call nearly half of the American population slackers and moochers and get away with it.

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