47 percent: A Look at Who Mitt Romney is Writing Off

Mother Jones has posted a video that captured the Republican nominee for president brazenly declaring to a group of wealthy donors that Americans who support President Obama view themselves as “victims” who depend on the government. Nearly half of the American people, he said, are unwilling to take “personal responsibility” for their lives and don’t pay taxes. “My job is not to worry about those people,” he concluded.

Mitt Romney’s shocking dismissal brings into question whether he could represent all Americans as president when he so willingly disparages half of them. Not only do the vast majority of these Americans pay a significant percentage of their income in taxes—whether they are federal payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes or other state and local taxes—but they often pay an even higher share of their income in these taxes than wealthier families. In fact, well over half—61%—are workers who actually pay federal payroll taxes, which can include military families, cops, firefighters, and teachers. And an overwhelming majority of the Americans Romney dismisses are seniors, working families, students, or people with disabilities.

Here are a few examples of Americans who—according to Mitt Romney—don’t pay enough in taxes:

U.S. soldiers in combat

U.S. soldiers’ pay while in a combat zone is not subject to federal income tax.


A firefighter with the average wage of $45,000 with a stay-at-home spouse and two kids.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeants

An Air Force military police staff sergeant with 8 years of service—who earns basic pay of $34,723—with a spouse earning $10,000 through part-time work and at least two kids.


A steelworker making the average wage of $45,000 with a stay-at-home spouse and two kids.

Security Guards

A security guard making the average wage of $23,900 married to a bank teller making an average wage of $24,500, with three kids.

High School Teachers

A high school teacher making the average wage of $54,000 who is the primary source of income and has at least three kids.

Police Officers

A New Mexico patrolman with a starting salary of $39,000 married to a part-time child care worker with at least two kids.

Clergy Members

A clergy member whose income of $44,140 is the primary source of income in a family with a spouse and two kids.