Quiverfull families and the federal income tax

I found Romney’s obtuse comment that the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes are all dependents on the government and will vote for Obama no matter what extremely ironic. You know why? Because most families in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement don’t pay federal income taxes, and there is no way any one of them would consider voting for Obama in their wildest dreams (rather, they generally see him as pure evil) or consider themselves dependent on the government, for that matter.

There has been a lot of talk since Romney’s comments about just who is in that 47%. It turns out that a lot of them are elderly or college students. A bunch of them are so low income that they aren’t required to pay federal income tax. And the rest are working families who are raising children and benefit from the child tax credits. For example, I am in that 47% because because my husband and I are graduate students and we’re raising two children.

Growing up, my parents faithfully donated 10% of their income to the church and to charity, and given the double digit size of their family, they could claim five, seven, nine or even more child tax credits each year. I just ran the numbers through an income tax calculator and wasn’t surprised at the results. No federal income taxes. None. And that’s even with my father’s fairly high income, so there’s no way other families in the Quiverfull movement who have middle or lower incomes are paying federal income tax either.

The thing to understand is that Quiverfull families are extremely right wing. In fact, part of the whole point of Quiverfull is to raise up “soldiers for Christ” to go out and convert people and to change the country for Christ, including the entertainment industry, the education system, and the government. Needless to say, the Quiverfull movement is tight with the Christian Right. Lots of Quiverfull families were out there stumping for Santorum last winter, forming perhaps his most faithful base. Quiverful families also strive to live debt-free and see government dependence as basically a wicked sin. Independence is held up as a key value, and many Quiverfull families run small businesses for this reason. Quiverfull families proudly assert that they are dependent only on God.

The idea that Romney would call my parents, and so many other Quiverfull families, “dependent on the government” and state that they would clearly vote for Obama is simply baffling. It’s nuts. And, of course, it’s incredibly, incredibly ironic.

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Two more points about Romney’s comments:

First, just because someone doesn’t pay federal income taxes doesn’t mean they don’t pay taxes. Most of the working families with children that don’t pay federal income taxes do pay payroll taxes, and even students like me who don’t pay payroll taxes do pay state and local taxes and, of course, sales taxes. You can only pretend that half the country is made up of moochers if you pretend that the federal income tax is the only tax there is.

Second, Romney’s claim that that 47% “dependent on the government” will vote for Obama just because they only think of their own interests, as though that’s somehow wrong or illegitimate or unique to the poor, is ironic coming from a man who wants to vote himself a tax cut. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how a poor man voting for Obama just because he wants to make sure Romney doesn’t cut the state funded health insurance for his children is any different from a rich man voting for Romney because he wants to have hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in his pocket each year.

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Anyway, how about the rest of you? I know I’m coming to this late and all, but thoughts on Romney’s comments? Thoughts on how this will affect the election? Thoughts on the election in general?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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