Who are society’s real ‘takers’?

Published 9:44 am Friday, November 16, 2012

This week Mitt Romney explained to his key financial supporters why he lost the 2012 presidential election. The reason? The 47 percent.

As it turns out Mitt meant every word he said to that private audience in March, that he believes 47 percent of Americans are takers, wanting gifts from the government and voting democratic to keep the gifts coming.

In his post-election version of the 47 percent Romney adds in young people, who were given “gifts” of lower student loans and extended time on family health insurance.

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These students join women (reproductive care within Obamacare), Hispanics (children of illegals given freedom from expulsion), and African Americans (extended unemployment benefits for the group hardest hit by long-term unemployment) in the “Takers” category.

Now these 47 percent, according to Romney and those who support his views, are also tax deadbeats because they pay no federal taxes (incomes below tax thresholds).

But the facts are quite different according to Citizens for Tax Justice, who cite studies noting total combined federal, state and local taxes.

When all taxes are considered as a percentage of income, those making $40,000 per year pay 27 percent of their income in total taxes, while the top 1 percent pay 30.9 percent, a difference of less than 4 percent. Hardly deadbeats, and hardly “Takers.”

So “Takers” are those who favor taxes to be used to make college more affordable, abortions more rare, unemployment less ruining, and tolerance for those who have parents who broke the law more acceptable. And Takers are those who pay plenty of taxes on tiny incomes, but no federal taxes.

Maybe they are not really the “Takers” at all in American society.

How about these takers:

In 2011 General Electric paid no federal taxes on an income of $5 billion, and an offshore pot of $94 billion protected from owed U.S. taxes.

AT&T in 2011 had a federal tax rate of, get this, minus 6.4 percent. AT&T’s profit for just the first quarter of 2012 was $3.6 billion.

The TARP program, the bail-out for big banking, according to the CBO will have a net cost in 2012 of $32 billion to taxpayers. That is $32 billion and the banks continue foreclosing on consumers daily.

Big oil a decade ago purchased 1,500 Gulf of Mexico leases of publicly owned lands but did not have to compensate taxpayers for 70 percent of those leases, leases now worth billions with oil hovering at $100 a barrel.

At the state level, Oregon recently discovered that several large corporations who claim Oregon as their home base have paid little or no state taxes for years.

Intel made $23.3 billion over the last three tax years and paid Oregon zero in state taxes. Wells Fargo earned $47.9 billion during the same period and paid the state of Oregon 0.7 percent in taxes. McDonalds generated $8.2 billion in profit and paid 4.8 percent in taxes.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has made Ohio a very business friendly state, reducing corporate taxes as much as 63 percent in 2010 and eliminated corporate income tax entirely. At the same time the Kasich administration cut state funding to schools and universities, causing property tax increases across many Ohio communities.

And on a personal tax level, consider the “Takers” who self-identify as hedge fund managers. According to Forbes magazine, the top 40 of these folks collectively made $13.2 billion in 2011, the bottom earner making a mere $40 million. Their tax rate? 15 percent.

So Gov. Romney and his rich protecting friends of big business and big money are correct — America is plagued by the greedy who are “Takers.”

They just are not the hardworking Americans who Romney and friends see as deadbeats. Instead, the real “Takers” are taking from all of us for their corporate and personal greed.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.