According an analysis by the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institute for the 2011 tax year, Mr. Romney was right. Nearly 47 percent of American households don't pay taxes as shown here:
But, the 46.4 percent of American households that don't pay taxes can be divided into two parts; the 28.3 percent who pay payroll taxes and the 18.1 percent who pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes as shown here:
Of the 18.1 percent of American households that don't pay either income or payroll taxes, 10.3 percent are elderly, 6.9 percent are non-elderly with household incomes under $20,000 and 0.1 percent are "Other" as shown here:
It has been government policy for decades to reduce the taxes on poorer Americans. Here is a quote from President Ronald Reagan, a kinder and gentler Republican, on signing the Tax Reform Act of 1986:
"For all these reasons, this tax bill is less a freedom—or a reform, I should say, than a revolution. Millions of working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether, and families will get a long-overdue break with lower rates and an almost doubled personal exemption. We're going to make it economical to raise children again. Flatter rates will mean more reward for that extra effort, and vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share. And that's why I'm certain that the bill I'm signing today is not only an historic overhaul of our tax code and a sweeping victory for fairness, it's also the best antipoverty bill, the best profamily measure, and the best job-creation program ever to come out of the Congress of the United States." (my bold)
Take that, Mr. Romney. Perhaps the silver spoon that you were born with was being born in America but, then again, most of us don't have fathers that were Chief Executive Officers and Governors. Maybe, just maybe, that's why you don't get the sweaty half of the population.