National Review debunks the “freeloader myth”

Unless you’ve been off-planet for a while, you know that a video has recently surfaced of Mitt Romney telling a group of wealthy campaign contributors that nearly half of Americans are deadbeats, saying for example, “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. … And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

This isn’t an example of words taken out of context; it really is what the man said. You can read a full transcript here.

While it’s true that in 2009 the number of households with no net income tax liability peaked at about 47% (in normal economic times it’s more like 40%), that percentage includes a lot of retirees and other very low-income people and the temporarily unemployed.

Late last year the venerable flagship of conservative magazines, William F. Buckley’s National Review, published an interesting article by Ramesh Ponnuru titled “The Freeloader Myth” that addressed this subject in detail, and it’s worth a read. It’s a pity Mitt Romney apparently did not, but he’s been busy, and as many conservatives have noted, he’s not really a mainstream conservative.

(Updated to correct link.)

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