It progressed with Occupy Wall Street’s 99% opposition against the top 1% taxpayers. And it continues in the presidential elections with Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 47% percent, with daily polls that political analysts say is a toss-up between candidates.
Numbers are the name of the game, but what do these pressing figures add up to? Let’s break them down, starting with the most recent.
According to the Tax Policy Center, Romney’s number is off. In 2011, the number of people paying no federal income tax was estimated at 46%. In their findings, although these individuals do not pay income taxes, they do pay other taxes, such as sales and property.
In a secretly filmed video released by Mother Jones, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated at a private fundraiser that nearly half of American voters (“47%”) in favor of President Barack Obama.
Romney said, “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.”
The majority of Romney’s 47% consists of the elderly with tax benefits as well as credits for children and the working poor—a politically troubling move especially towards the elderly who traditionally turn out in the highest numbers to vote. Criticism has stemmed from both partisan sides in light of the video, assertions pushing the idea of Romney being out of touch with the middle class.
In response, Romney said his words were “not elegantly stated” and that Obama’s stance on matters appealed more to people not paying taxes.
Occupy Wall Street, a movement that echoed in over 100 cities throughout the United States and more than 1,000 cities worldwide found its start in the financial district of New York City. September 17 celebrated its one-year anniversary. The protests stemmed from the belief that Wall Street (large businesses and companies included—the elite 1%) were involved in the downfall of the economy that has lead to the current recession. Said to have been partially inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Charles M. Blow in a New York Times article wrote, “Ever since the Arab Spring, many people here have been pining for an American Autumn.”
The top 1% earned almost 17% of the nation’s income and paid nearly 37% in taxes. The 99% as defined by Occupy Wall Street appear comprised of students with college debt, individuals without jobs or health insurance, and minimum wage workers.
The term 99% may fall under generalization in reference to the middle class or angry hipsters, in reality, Occupy Wall Street addresses all levels of the economic class ladder. From those who live from check to check to celebrities who support the spirit of the cause. While the movement has cooled down from its passionate beginnings, its original message against income inequality and the shrinking middle class still prevails in the public consciousness.
“The economy remains weak more than three years after economists declared the recession had ended in June 2009,” wrote Christopher S. Rugaber for the Huffington Post. The Obama administration’s 4.6 million new job growth in the private sector is viewed as a far cry still from the backing needed to aid millions of struggling citizens. A global concern in the form of the European euro diminishing adds onto the plight of Americans.
By November, Obama needs to convince voters of a solid plan to shrink that 8.3. Romney needs to undergo damage control for his controversial 47. In the end, both presidential forerunners must find a way to balance out the 1% and the 99% to bring forth a less divided 100%.