Legislative Lowdown: A good week for Mitt Romney

Only 53 percent pay federal income taxes

A leaked, edited video of a May 17 Mitt Romney fundraising speech provided a teaching moment for conservatives to point out that only 53 percent of Americans pay any federal income tax.

Right-leaning pundits were falling all over themselves to distance themselves from Romney’s comments. But they highlight two very important issues for the American people — a broken tax system and government dependency:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. … These are people who pay no income tax, 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax.

President Obama is polling at 47 percent in Rasmussen, Gallup and AP right now. Romney should be given some credit for predicting in May that there were 47 percent of the American people who would vote for a president who has imposed a failed economic plan that has led America to high unemployment, soaring gas prices and economic stagnation. On foreign policy, the Obama Doctrine is in flames in Pakistan, Egypt and Libya, while allies such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can’t secure a meeting with the president.

According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2011, 46.4 percent of the American people didn’t pay any federal income tax. That number was 47 percent in 2009. Another interesting number that proves Romney’s thrust to be correct is that 49 percent of Americans live in a household where at least one member received a government benefit last year. This suggests that close to half of the American people are becoming dependent on government benefits and not paying federal income taxes. Romney’s argument, although “not elegantly stated,” was spot on.

The controversy suggests that President Obama and Mitt Romney have an excellent opportunity to take the lead on the idea of comprehensive tax reform — tax reform that will simplify the tax code in a revenue-neutral manner to provide fairness for all Americans.