Fact Check: Obama Ad Attacks Romney's '47 Percent' Remarks

By Steve Kanigher

Published 10/02 2012 05:13PM

Updated 10/03 2012 06:54PM

Claim: An advertisement endorsed by President Barack Obama that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 states: "When Mitt Romney dismissed 47 percent of Americans for not pulling their weight he attacked millions of hard-working people making $25,000, $35,000, $45,000 a year. They pay Social Security taxes, state taxes, local taxes, gas, sales and property taxes. Romney paid just 14 percent in taxes last year on over $13 million in income, almost all from investments."

Verdict: Party true and party misleading. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has come under attack ever since Mother Jones released a secretly recorded video of the candidate at a private fundraiser earlier this year bad-mouthing supporters of Democrat Obama. Romney said: "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 that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." Romney went on to say that "these are people who pay no income tax." While the ad classifies Romney's comments as an attack, the Republican actually wasn't far off in his assessment of the percentage of Americans who don't pay income taxes. The Tax Policy Center, whose studies have been used by the Obama campaign to criticize Romney's tax plan, reported that 46.4 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes in 2011. While 63 million households that paid no federal income taxes last year earned $33,542 or less, there were also 102,000 households earning at least $210,998 that didn't pay any income taxes either. The ad points out that lower-income people still pay other taxes but in fairness to Romney, he never said they didn't. His remarks were strictly about income taxes.

Romney paid roughly $1.9 million in federal income taxes in 2011 based on adjusted gross income of $13.7 million, mostly from investments. That's an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. So the ad is accurate on that score. But the lower tax rates assigned to capital gains are available to those who make moderate incomes, too. Romney also has said he wants to lower all marginal income tax rates.

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