All right, there are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.Romney is correct that 47% of people do not pay income tax. Romney is also correct that a mentality of entitlement, resentment and victimization exists precisely because of the welfare state (not that he would actually do anything to shrink it - nope, not a thing). This has put the pundits up in arms largely because the truth can hurt: those who are dependent on welfare will vote for the Party that runs on giving people more welfare. However, Romney fails to understand who this 47% is - since much of it may very well vote for him. This includes retirees and those households whose income tax breaks simply equal out (and sometimes overcompensate) their income tax payments; hardly a great definition of "dependents."
This episode has been used by the Left to help support their idea that Mitt Romney is some kind of dark lord of the free market and by the Right to help support their idea that Romney is some kind of armor-clad champion of the free market. However, I think Romney's recent "gaffe" helps to prove both camps wrong. Much has been made over the specifics of Romney's words but none of it actually gets to the real heart of the matter as I see it.
Romney's remarks actually coincide with a larger GOP attempt to eliminate income tax "loopholes" altogether so every American has "skin in the game." This, of course, exposes a deep indifference to an actual free market since, if anything, loopholes should be expanded so that no one ends up paying any income tax at all. The income tax is immoral on its face. Income is property that, for most people, is legitimately earned through work. The income tax therefore operates under the false assumption that the government is the actual owner of your income. On pay day, the government first takes their share (as they define it) of your rightfully-earned paycheck and then apportions to you, the lowly worker, the remains. Is this property rights? Is this freedom? It certainly sounds like theft.
So are those who pay no income tax really "victims"? I say those who are forced to pay the immoral income tax are the victims.