The incorrect claim Mitt Romney made about 47 percent of the country paying no taxes has been a common talking point of the right for more than a year.
It's been so common, in fact, that it's hard to find a conservative who hasn't used it, often suggesting the bottom half of the income ladder needs to pay more in taxes. That includes Linda McMahon, the GOP Senate candidate in Connecticut, who roundly denounced Romney for it Tuesday.
“I disagree with Governor Romney’s insinuation that 47% of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care," McMahon said in a statement on her website. "I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be. People today are struggling because the government has failed to keep America competitive, failed to support job creators, and failed to get our economy back on track."
But when McMahon launched her campaign, she suggested in an interview with Connecticut's News 8 almost a year ago that those same 47 percent were not paying their fair share.
"I'd like to see everyone pay their fair share," McMahon said. "Forty-seven percent of the people today don't pay any taxes, so let's have a fair tax code where everybody pays their taxes."
McMahon made the same mistake that Romney did in her statement. It is not true that 47 percent of the country pays no taxes. It is true that because of deductions designed to help the middle and working classes, slightly less than 47 percent pay no federal income taxes. They do pay federal payroll taxes, as well as state, local, sales and property taxes.
The campaign of Chris Murphy, the Democrat in the race, has cut a video linking the Romney and McMahon comments.
Todd Abrajano, a spokesman for McMahon, said there was no contradiction in the comments the former WWE head made then and her statement now.
"Clearly she has made it public now that she differs with Mitt Romney," Abrajano said. "Linda has said numerous times the tax code needs to be reformed. How that gets reformed is the debate she wants to be part of when she is in the U.S. Senate."
A major part of the problem for Romney is that he has been entirely dismissive of the 47 percent. McMahon, Abrajano said, believes "they should pay something," but beyond that, believes those people deserve respect.
"The difference between what she said and what Mitt Romney said is what she didn't say," Abrajano said.
Watch the News 8 Interview:
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