Lots of Republican conservatives, Paul Ryan and Bill O’Reilly among them, have taken the position that even if Mitt Romney’s rhetoric was clumsy, his point was basically right. Some Americans pay taxes; others collect benefits.
But his basic claim was total baloney. When you count income taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, and highly regressive state and local taxes, the typical lower income working American pays about one-fifth of his or her income in taxes—more than Mitt Romney!
According to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice, the bottom fifth of the income distribution paid 17.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The second-poorest fifth paid 21.2 percent.