Damon Silvers is the policy director and special counsel of the AFL-CIO.
The psychology of Mitt Romney's apparent attack on 47 percent of Americans is fascinating. It’s all about the excuses the very rich make up to cover for their refusal to bear their fair share of the costs of maintaining civilization. Because, of course, the poor actually pay a higher share of their income in taxes than people like Romney do, it's just they don’t pay it in federal income tax. The poorest 20 percent of America pays 23 percent of their income in state and federal taxes—in payroll taxes, sales taxes and other excise taxes and state income taxes. As we know, in the one year Romney has disclosed, he paid just under 14 percent in federal taxes, almost all of his income was not subject to payroll tax, and his state income tax bill was likely far less than 8 percent of his income. By the way, in 2011, 13,000 families in the top 1 percent of income paid no federal income tax.