CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mitt Romney is way out of touch with average Americans given his comments to wealthy donors that 47 percent of Americans who don't make enough money to pay federal income taxes "are dependent upon government ... believe that they are victims and believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."
The victims' Mitt Romney refers to include millions of seniors living on fixed incomes, veterans who have proudly served their country, parents working two or more jobs to feed their families, disabled Americans who are too physically challenged to work and college students working to help pay their way through college. Most of the 47 percent of the Americans he called dependant on government are the working poor who pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, which means they are entitled to those life-saving benefits in old age.
It is not a question of them being dependent on government, as Mitt Romney claims. Those benefits belong to them, not to the government!
The vast majority of Americans who pay no federal income tax are the working poor who make less than $20,000 annually (6 out of 10). They are seniors whose Social Security benefits are so low that they are not taxed (2 out of 10). They are students, people with disabilities or illnesses and the long-term unemployed, through no fault of their own and typically live in poverty (2 out of 10).
A wealthy individual like Mitt Romney has never experienced what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck in poverty. The working poor of West Virginia long for the day when they will have earned enough in wages that they will pay both payroll and federal income taxes and still have enough money left over to feed their family, pay the mortgage and send their children to college. It's the American Dream.
Ironically, Mitt Romney wants to cut corporate taxes by nearly 30 percent, even though 30 major corporations, including Verizon, Boeing and General Electric, paid zero in corporate taxes over the last three years because of corporate tax breaks and loopholes, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
Last time I checked, the American definition of hard work and responsibility did not include wealth gained without work or by the digits on your corporate and personal bank statement or by the number of bank accounts you have in the Cayman Islands. All elected officials should stand up for working poor Americans, not Corporate America.
Mitt Romney, if elected President, would expend more political capital trying to tax grandma's hard-earned Social Security benefits than making sure big corporations and the richest 2 percent of our citizens pay their fair share of taxes.
Matheney is secretary/treasurer of West Virginia's AFL-CIO.