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Ronald Reagan and the 47 Percent

The Gipper might beg to differ with Romney’s wish to make people pay
Ronald Reagan and the 47 Percent
AP Photo

Mitt Romney, meet Ronald Reagan. The Romney-Ryan campaign labels the 47 percent of people who don’t pay federal income taxes as “takers.” But to President Reagan, the godfather of today’s conservatives, anyone who worked for a living was a maker, whether he or she paid taxes or not.

Reagan strongly supported the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which sends checks to Americans who work but earn less than around $46,000 a year, depending on family size. Recipients of the credit are among those who don’t pay income tax, but Reagan never regarded that as a problem. His administration estimated that the 1986 reform of the tax code would remove 6 million working poor from the tax rolls. Reagan called the reform a “sweeping victory for fairness” and “perhaps the biggest antipoverty program in our history.”