I have been self-employed for much of my adult life, and I freely admit that there were a few years mixed in there in which I did not pay an income tax. But even in my worst years, I never paid the federal government less than 15.3 percent of my earnings, significantly more than the 13.9 percent effective rate Mitt Romney says he paid in 2010.
Like all working Americans, I pay a 15.3 percent flat tax (temporarily reduced to 13.3 percent) toward Social Security and Medicare, two of the "entitlements" Romney accuses me of wanting for nothing. We currently pay this tax on the first $106,800 of our earned income, which means like most Americans (and unlike Romney) I have always paid it on all of my income. In addition, I pay thousands of dollars a year in state and local property taxes, sales taxes, and other excise taxes.
I suppose Romney could have used his little fundraising speech to make the case for why my taxes ought to be lower. But he didn't. He used the opportunity to accuse me and nearly half of all Americans of being deadbeats.
To be clear, apart from a few weeks of unemployment back in 1988, I have never cashed a government check. No welfare. No food stamps. No Earned Income Tax Credit. (Although I'm sure there were years when I would have qualified for the latter two had I applied.) Even in 2001, when I lost a dot.com job in a post-9/11 mass layoff, I did not apply for unemployment because I had no intention of looking for work at the time, and thus felt it would just be wrong to file.
Now the one "entitlement" I have always counted on—Medicare's guarantee of affordable health care in my senior years (an "entitlement" for which I have been paying my entire adult life)—Romney tells me I do not deserve, and his running mate Paul Ryan tells me I should not expect.
"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 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…These are people who pay no income tax... my job is not to worry about those people."