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Santorum Disses The 99 Percent, Attacks Those Too Poor To Pay Federal Income Taxes

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"Santorum Disses The 99 Percent, Attacks Those Too Poor To Pay Federal Income Taxes"

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After nearly edging out former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — the living embodiment of the “one percent” — in the first GOP presidential caucus in Iowa, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has sought to portray himself as the “anti-Romney.” Part of this push involves casting himself as a populist candidate.

The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney argues this morning that Santorum is positioning himself to champion the interests of blue collar Americans, in contrast to Romney’s elitism. Yet at a campaign event in New Hampshire this morning, Santorum aligned himself with the one percent. He dismissed the 99 Percenters protesting against income inequality, saying that the movement is “dividing” America. “You know, it’s not 99-1,” he said. “It’s anybody who makes money and pays taxes and everybody who doesn’t. That’s the 99-1″:

SANTORUM: [Referring to Obama] When he goes around and tries to divide America and aligns himself with Occupy Wall Street. Says, this dividing of America, 99-1. You know it’s not 99-1. It’s anybody that makes money and pays taxes and everybody who doesn’t. That’s the 99-1. It’s anybody who goes out and succeeds in America versus those who should have that wealth redistributed.

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It’s unclear why Santorum thinks that the ratio of people who pay taxes to those who don’t can be described as 99:1, which would be wildly inaccurate. By attacking people who supposedly don’t pay taxes, he is likely referring to Americans who are too poor to pay federal income taxes. The truth is, while there are many Americans who are too poor to pay federal income taxes, particularly during the Great Recession, it is also true that if you look at state and local taxes, the working poor actually pay a higher percentage of their income in these taxes in every state except for Vermont.

The former senator also champions financially successful Americans and contrasts them against “those” who would redistribute that wealth. Yet many of the corporations that 99 Percenters are protesting against have been immensely financially successful while both dodging their tax responsibilities and benefiting from government largess — that is, wealth redistribution. Major corporations like General Electric and Boeing have managed to go years without paying federal corporate income taxes while collecting tax benefits and billions of dollars in government subsidies. If Santorum was truly serious about championing the interests of working class voters and contrasting himself with Romney, he might instead take aim at the corporate manipulation of American tax and subsidy policy that is leading to growing income inequality.

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