Indiana GOP Senate Candidate Says His Concern About Poor Not Paying Taxes Akin To Lincoln’s Fears About Slavery

The Republican Party’s nominee for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat recently compared the fight over tax rates and reform to former president Abraham Lincoln’s concern over slavery, alluding to Lincoln’s famous “House Divided” speech ahead of the Civil War.

State treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) rehashed a favorite GOP talking point — that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes — at the town hall in Columbus City, Indiana, comparing those 47 percent to the Confederate states that seceded from the Union in an attempt to protect and expand slavery. Referencing Lincoln’s speech, Mourdock said that as long as nearly half of Americans don’t pay taxes, “we are a house divided” that is presumably on the point to another fight, this time between the rich and the poor:

MOURDOCK: What he meant by that was that slavery was either going to be totally eliminated from the United States or it was no longer just going to be restricted to the Southern states, it was going to go everywhere. I am here to suggest to you that we are in a house divided. You know this past April, when our federal taxes were paid, 47 percent — 47 percent — of all American households paid no income tax. In fact, half of that 47 percent almost, actually got tax money back from the government that they never paid -– because a few years ago we revised the welfare program to make it part of the tax code. When 47 percent are paying no income taxes — they do pay Social Security — but they are not paying income taxes, and 53 percent are carrying the load, we are a house divided.

Watch it:

Mourdock’s ridiculous allusion to a speech referencing the spread of slavery aside, the facts he presented to town hall attendees aren’t telling the whole story. It’s true that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, but they do pay state income taxes, payroll taxes (which Mourdock referenced), and a host of other taxes. Many of those 47 percent don’t pay income taxes because they don’t have income on which to pay taxes — they are students or seniors without taxable income, or they don’t make enough money to qualify for the bottom tax bracket.


Republicans have opposed tax increases of various kinds to help pay down the deficit, largely because so many are beholden to a radical no-taxes pledge authored by Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. Mourdock, who has signed the pledge, seems no different than many Republicans in Congress — he’s willing to ignore the pledge, as long as the only tax increases that pass are on the poorest Americans.