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Map of location of people who pay no federal income tax
Moocherland, as defined by Mitt Romney, constitutes some of his most reliable ground come election day.
You've probably already seen this 2008 map from the Tax Foundation. But it's worth repeating to point out that eight of the 10 states with the largest percentages of people who Romney dissed as free-loading layabouts are locks for him on election day. That's right, the states with the highest concentrations of people Romney says he doesn't care about, whose votes he says he can never get, live in states he can count on winning. In fact, 15 of the 20 states with the highest concentrations of supposed deadbeats are almost certainly in Romney's camp.

You would think that a guy who has spent the past year trying to shore up his base would be a bit more cautious in how he refers to many of them. But in the rarefied air of the secretly videotaped fund-raiser at Marc Leder's digs, Romney thought he was talking privately to the only people who really count, the ones George W. Bush took note of a dozen years ago: "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base." To them, unlike the rest of the nation, he could be the real Mitt, expressing his real views and getting their laughter and nods and applause for his effort.

As has been pointed out by Jed Lewison and others, the 47 percent that Romney proclaimed as spongers, who pay no taxes, are quite a bit different than the dog-whistling, class-trashing depiction he drew for the elite crowd that paid $50,000 apiece to hear him talk.

For one thing, it's an outright fraud to claim that the 47 percent pay no taxes. The majority of them pay property taxes and other local and state taxes. Most pay sales taxes and most pay payroll taxes. The Tax Policy Center says that only 18.1 percent of U.S. households paid no federal taxes in 2011 or a negative federal income tax or no federal payroll taxes.

Of that group, more than half were seniors, most or all of whose income came from Social Security, which only becomes taxable at a threshold they did not attain. And most of the rest of the other half were people other than seniors making less than $20,000 a year. These used the earned income tax credit and the child credit to zero out any taxes they might otherwise have had to pay.

In other words, poor people. People just getting by. People who would be eating cat food or going completely hungry part of each month were it not for the food stamp program Romney and Ryan want to gut. Those red states on the map have a disproportionate number of poor people, a fact of life that has much to do with policies in those states, such as anti-union right-to-work laws that keep wages low.

The rest of the non-payers, 5 percent of the 18.1 percent, made more than $20,000 a year. A sliver within that sliver, just 3,000 filers, Kevin Roose notes, made more than $2.2 million in 2011 and yet paid no federal income taxes.

Big-time moochers. A few of them may have been in the audience applauding as Romney delivered his diss of "entitled" Americans.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 10:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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