Sen. DeMint: GOP Needs To Appeal To Income Tax-Paying Americans "Who Are Working And Know Better"

January 25, 2012 5:42 pm ET — Julia Krieger

GOP power player Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has never been shy about his favoritism of Wall Street over Main Street, and he isn't coy about his intolerance for bipartisanship. But yesterday on Fox News, DeMint was particularly candid with host Neil Cavuto on his winning strategy for the GOP in 2012: Neglect everyone who doesn't pay income taxes.

Making the case that Republicans need stop trying to appeal to the "half of the country" that is "getting something from the government," DeMint suggested that the only Americans "who are working" are the ones "who are paying income taxes." He advised Republicans to disregard people who don't make enough to pay income taxes because only those who do pay them 'understand what makes us great.'

DEMINT: Well, Neil, we've got a challenge in America because about half the country is getting something from government, and that message is going to appeal to them. Republicans have got to appeal to the half of Americans who are paying income taxes, who are working and know better. And it's not a matter of kind of watering down our message to appeal to those who want more from government, we've got to unite that part of America that understands what makes us great. It's not going to be easy, because it sounds good to say: Let's tax the rich. But, as you know, we could take all the money of all the rich people and it doesn't solve the problem that we're spending too much, the government's too big, the regulations are making it hard to do business—what we need to do is get government off of the private sector so that people have opportunity and everyone can succeed.

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DeMint's suggestion that Americans who don't pay income tax aren't working, or that they're taking advantage of the government, is simply false. According the Tax Policy Center, "about half of people who don't owe income tax are off the rolls not because they take advantage of tax breaks but rather because they have low incomes," and many others are exempt because of "provisions that benefit senior citizens." Further, many included in the 46 percent of Americans that don't pay income tax "do pay other taxes," like "federal payroll and excise taxes as well as state and local income, sales, and property taxes."

While it's no surprise to hear DeMint disparaging Americans who haven't struck it rich, his outright statement of what ought to be his party's strategy is one of the worst examples in a trend — embraced by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), to name a few — in which Republicans have been suggesting that the working poor aren't paying their fair share. 

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