When Romney says he believes that 47 percent of voters don't pay income tax, "believe that they are victims," think "government has a responsibility to care for them" and will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he is confusing the average voter with the average Democratic National Convention speaker. Most Americans, no matter what party they're in, do not aspire to be parasites, despite the best efforts of their elected representatives.
But Romney's remarks compelled critics to forward the equally preposterous claim that government dependency doesn't affect elections at all.
To begin with, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that increases in dependency and entitlements do matter. If handouts were irrelevant, politicians wouldn't promise to relieve people of their burdens -- from student loans to mortgages. They wouldn't hand out ethanol subsidies or corporate tax breaks or union bailouts.
Take welfare. Yes, welfare increases have a lot to do with the serious downturn -- and also plenty to do with an administration that believes it's more moral to put people on the dole than get them off. And about 110 million Americans received some form of welfare benefit in 2011. As The Washington Examiner reported this week, a Congressional Research Service report found that the number of able-bodied adults on food stamps has doubled since President Barack Obama suspended work requirements in welfare reform.
Many among these 110 million Americans -- many there through no fault of their own -- will vote to protect welfare.
Then there are taxes. Riddle me this: If government is, as I often hear, the arbiter of fairness, the engine of economic opportunity and the guardian of equality, why are fewer and fewer people offering alms? As the Tax Policy Center points out, in 2010, 41 percent of tax returns filed had no income tax liability -- which represents more than 58 million income tax filers. Yes, the complexity of our technocratic tax code, built by both parties, has a lot to do with who pays and who doesn't. The vast majority of those without any income tax liability aren't mooching at all.