Time for some hard facts about the '47 percent,' and Idaho

This was the week that the number “47 percent” became etched in political consciousness.

The week that Mitt Romney found himself in class warfare of his own making. In a leaked video from a fund-raiser, the GOP presidential nominee was heard writing off 47 percent of the population as non-taxpaying entitlement-dependent victims who’d never vote for him.

But who are these non-taxpayers, where do they live — and how do they tend to vote? The answers are surprising.

Using a map from the Tax Foundation, the Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews dubbed Idaho one of America’s “moocher” states. A condescending title earned because, in 2008, 258,528 Idahoans who filed income tax forms owed no money to Uncle Sam. This amounted to nearly 39 percent of all Idaho filings, compared to a national “non-payer” rate of 36 percent.

Of the nation’s 10 “moocher” states, said Matthews, eight are considered solidly in Romney’s camp. That includes Idaho, obviously, and these red-tinted “moocher” states could provide Romney 96 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win on Nov. 6.

The only exceptions are Florida, a swing state, and New Mexico, which is likely to support Democrat Barack Obama.
Interesting stuff, and a useful backdrop for the depressing data dump that the U.S. Census Bureau unleashed on Thursday.

The “highlights,” in a manner of speaking:

• Idaho’s median household income dropped by 8.9 percent from 2008 to 2011. Idaho was one of only nine states to record three successive years of decline — and only Georgia and Nevada suffered a steeper three-year decline.

• Big deal, you say? Idaho has always been a low-wage, low-cost of living state, you say? Perhaps. With a median household income of $43,341, Idaho has always skewed a lot closer to No. 51-ranked Mississippi ($36,919) than top-ranked Maryland ($70,004).

But here’s something that is a big deal. Idaho lost ground nationally during its three-year struggle. Six states leapfrogged Idaho, whose median household income now ranks No. 41 nationally.

• With income dropping, 16.5 percent of Idahoans lived in poverty in 2011, up from 15.7 percent in 2010. The number of Idaho households receiving food stamps also increased, from 72,000 in 2010 to more than 78,000 in 2011.

• More Idahoans have health insurance — 83.5 percent in 2011, up from 82.3 percent a year ago. But as the Idaho Department of Labor pointed out in a news release, this was “primarily due to additional people qualifying for government health care.”

More Idahoans using food stamps? More Idahoans relying on government health care? Little surprise, then, that Idaho is moving up in the Tax Foundation’s “moocher” rankings — again, losing ground compared to other states. Idaho’s non-payer rate for 2010 ranked No. 8 nationally, compared to a No. 10 ranking two years earlier.

Why am I darkening your Friday with a litany of numbers that all add up to something that is common knowledge: the Great Recession exacted a steep toll on Idaho’s economy? To make a simple case.

Idaho is a poor state, in terms of wealth.

A poorer state than it was, just a few short years ago.

And a state where people are relying on federal assistance, in growing numbers.

Those are facts.

In order for us to really know ourselves, we need to know and comprehend the facts about ourselves.

You don’t have to like the “moocher” moniker. I don’t care for it either. But let’s have a moment of honesty amongst ourselves. Food stamps and Medicaid aren’t black-hole federal programs — bankrolled by Idahoans, benefiting only recipients in distant inner cities.

These programs are also supporting our neighbors.

Our self-styled image of the hardscrabble independent Idahoan who refuses federal assistance — except for, maybe, some farm subsidies — is a caricature. Like all caricatures, it is not drawn to scale.

Kind of like the caricature offered up, in an unfiltered and illustrative moment, by one Mitt Romney. The caricature of the 47 percent he was willing to write off — not just as Election Day supporters, but as productive participants in the American economy.

So let me connect the dots, one last time. When Romney was carping about the 47 percent, he was talking about a whole lot of Idahoans. He may hold you in disdain. But you can bet he is banking on you and your four electoral votes.

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What a Fool Believes

A percentage KR doesn't want you to be aware of = 60%

A Gallup poll released yesterday shows that 60% of Americans do not believe the media reports the news factually, accurately or fairly. 60% is up 5% from last year and represents an all time high level of distrust Americans have for KR and his profession.

Facts vs. "beliefs"?

The poll says 60% "believe" the media isn't reporting factually? What exactly does that mean? That's a delightful little nugget of nothing. Now if you were to produce any sort of meaningful data that actually indicated the media WAS reporting things that weren't factual you might have something. Let's just say in a nation where a large percentage of people BELIEVE the planet is only 6000 years old "belief" means little to the reality of this world.

Link to study


Kevin Richert
editorial page editor

Thanks, KR

Seems to follow the same trend as "gut feelings" taking precedence over fact and data. Pretty sad statement about our society in general...at least that's what my gut says.

It means that the majority

It means that the majority of folk in the country KNOW or believe that the news is biased in favor of only one party and as such does not tell the truth about what is happening. It does not help that the media also runs most of the polls and the internals always produces an in your face over-sample of dems..

Americans distrust KR?

Gosh, I bet most don't even know him.

To your point, another percentage = 98%

My guess is that 98% of Idahoans have never heard of Kevin Richert. So, again to your point, why get worked up over commentary from someone 98% of Idahoans have never heard of? Good point, thanks for putting this all in context for me.

Is that the best you got?

I assume therefore you have nothing to disagree with Kevin's facts or figures. You're just struggling for a way to dismiss them.

The only thing I'm struggling with is trying to understand....

why KR is satisfied with a career of playing "small ball". I can only conclude that KR is either incapable of understanding the important issues of the day (and therefore incapable of forming intelligent commentary) or that he is so invested personally and professionally in the Obama administration that his ideology mandates that he shield the administration from criticism.

Incorrect; staff's at the mercy of Idaho's political class

Look, you need to empathize here. McClatchy cannot afford to alienate 1 single advertiser in 'low-wage, hi-tax' Idaho...not a single one! The political class Machiavellians at IACI, Farm Bureau, etc. are well aware of this situation. These folks at the Statesman are trying to hold on to their low-paying jobs in a total-crap economy, made that way from 30-40 years of monopoly rule by completely atavistic boobs.

Statesman and McClatchy alienated me long ago.....

I am still a subscriber (though I'm not sure why) however I pulled all my advertising. You should see what arrives on my driveway most mornings. I call it: The Idaho Daily Pamphlet. The mediocrity that is acceptable to the suits at the Statesman is the reason this paper is in a death spiral. Today a section of my paper was covered in splotches of blue ink - as if someone literally dumped a bottle of ink on 3 pages of the paper. I would have been out of business years ago if I provided a product as poor as the Statesman to my customers.

Aside from its tech-death; Statesman reflects state's economy

Yep, I see the same. But the Statesman, per se, did not cause this. Yeah, their weenie treatment of the political class' policies hasn't helped; since 1980 Idaho has fallen from 37th in per capita income to as low as 49th just above Mississippi in Q2 last year. Maybe they'll cut back to 3 rags a week....Advance Pubs in Alabama & elsewhere did, but that's the Newhouse family and they're strong hands-on managers, unlike the parasitic McClatchy heirs.

back 40 - back in 1972. There's a song about that.

Check your math. Better yet, check your history books and try some Poli-Sci with a dash of critical thinking.

1971-1995 Democratic Governors.

Frank Church 57-81
Larry LaRocco 91-95

Wanna dive into the legislative history?


In the spirit of breast cancer awareness-- "atavistic boobs"? Really?

If Mississippi

is ranked no.51, Idasippi must be ranked no. 50.

And so?

Then what?
Not sure what the relevence is here, KR?
Hard facts?

I'm not concerned about Idaho's ranking. I'm not concerned about other states' median income. I am not concerned about other people's income.
I am concerned about MY income/Wealth.

#1-the bigger the gain the bigger the risk.
Remember the news reports of 6 years ago saying Idaho's economy is the fastest growing? IN 2004, US Census ranked Idaho as 22 ($46,778) of median income.

Anything (an economy, a business, a relationship, a tree) that grows fast, has a bigger risk and bigger probability of collapse.

#2- The bigger they are the harder they fall. The best economies before 2008 are now at the bottom of the heap. That is not a coincidence.


KR, if you and The Statesman, want to perpetually bag on Idaho and Idahoans, you can.
But all you are doing is continuing to stink up your newspaper.

Meanwhile, people move here from other states. Businesses relocate to Idaho. People continue to start their own business here, people continue to hunt and fish, farmers continue to grow crops and animals to eat, and students continue to attend Boise State, UofI (including your child), CWI, our other public colleges and parents continue to send their children to our public schools.

And you continue to try to politicize little bits of data.

If you think this is important information, maybe you should put your family where where your mouth is and move to Maryland.

Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. You are brave to swim the shark infested waters Kevin. I've often wondered why Idahoans don't see what the republicans do to them. Right-to-work and slave wages. But they'll keep voting the same unless they believe Mitt's words. How dare you think you're entitled to food, says Mitt. Just wow. Romney '12..... because I pay taxes (I think) so therefore I'm not a freeloader.


Why would you or anyone think that if Idaho magically was dominated by Democrat leadership that something would change significantly?

Do you think we would be #20 if there was D leadership?

What? Pay all the teachers $100,000+/year and that will raise the median income? And everyone else has zero disposable income after paying taxes...

It is at least 47% and going

worse if the current president, nobel prize peacemaker, wins again....

From the Washington Post

"...those making less are likelier to vote Democratic regardless of whether they live in a red or blue state."

Can you imagine that?

It makes perfect sense

but not for the reason you think. They see Obama as the only one who cares about them (as evidenced by future god's own holy words) and that Obama offers the best chance for them to improve their situation. I think the great majority of poor folk would prefer not to be getting any government assistance and want to be self sufficient.

A non bias headline, Idaho income drops 8.9% under Obama.

KR's bias blinds the truth. When an administration puts a target on the makers they will certinally, keep their powder dry, for the right time. What idiot would expand or start a business in this climate. When the "empty chair", says "you should pay your fair share", the smart investor goes to cash.

Also, KR's comparisons and conclusions do not take into account the vast amount of federal land in Idaho.

KR' biased blog ignores Obama statements this week.

While Romney's "47%" statement is worthy disussion material, biased KR, totally ignors Obama edgey statements and revalations this week. I'll do his job for you.

Obama Reveled in 1998 speech, "I actually believe in redistribution", at Loyola.

Univision interview, Obama said, "I think that I've learned some lessons over the past four years, and the most important lessons is that you can't change Washington from the inside". Total O gaffe.

Susan Rice, lying to the sunday news shows last week about the Libya attacks not being terrorist attacks.

The fast and furious resignations.

I could go on and on, But our media is letting us down. They are not reporting the whole story. This particular blog seems to really in the tank for Obama. I can only imagine his reporting if this was a Republican administration.

I guess it could be that KR......

has never heard of the Univision interview, the people who refused to be interviewed about Fast and Furious, and Susan Rice......work with me on this.......I'm trying to find some explanation as to why the Statesman has no comment on the changing stories coming out of the Whit House!

The Statesman does not write anything


just anti-republican stuff....

It is the rise of the 'new' Third Reich where the liberal media protects their Saviour at all costs....

Gas Chambers for the Right....Fema Camps await, soon....

Kevin's cup is half empty, mine is half full

I'm curious as to why Kevin would compare Idaho's median income to Mississippi's and Maryland's. An article in the Columbus Dispatch this week claims that Ohio's median income is lower than it has been in 26 years, and it wasn't a whole lot better than Idaho - around $46,000 as I recall. Ohio is not a right-to-work state, and it has a ton of industries, colleges, and research facilities such that Idaho can't even dream of ever having. I grew up in Ohio and still root for the Buckeyes, but I would rather be dirt poor in Idaho than a millionaire in Ohio.

If you want to listen to something really stupid, just....

listen to a dem defend and explaing the good happenings for America this past 4 years....

Dems are biased and clueless....another 20 million more foodstampers if we continue dem pathways....

About that 47%

I am afraid the writer misses the obvious...Yes, the nation is divided into donor states and recipients of the largess...Yes, Idaho is in the later category. Where the piece fails is in ignoring the elephant in the room...Red and blue states are defined by votes. Does anyone seriously pretend the blue voting base in the blue donor states pay most of the taxes in that state? The blue constituency is overwhelmingly their self described victim groups. Does anyone pretend the black vote, the Hispanic vote, the single mom vote are well to do and pay most of the taxes in those blue states? Nope, the red minority of business owners, the well employed and the upper middle class pay the taxes and that group is as red as the victim groups are blue.

Red voters in blue states fund that blue states largess, as well as that blue state.


I see your point JIMV. But you have to consider the big chunk of wealthy people that are Democrats.

The Kennedy family for example. Granted they pay 15% average tax, like Romney, but they have great wealth.

There is also the well paid professionals on the liberal side of things such as many attorneys- those people who wanted to "change the world".

Locally, look at District 19. North End and East End Boise are of some of the highest value properties (wealth & paying the most property taxes) and it likely has one of the highest percentage of professional incomes. When you can explain the D dominance in Dist 19, I think you will have a complete picture.

Richert's article.

Nowhere in the article did Richert say people had to or should vote for a Democrat. I think he just spelled out where Idaho is in regard to accepting Government assistance. He did connect the dots and it should not be so difficult for people to follow them. There is nothing Third Reich about it. I personally find it hard to believe that anyone could be in this position or State and vote for Romney because of his disdain for the 47%. More importantly,I find it strangely hypocritical for a Republican State that claims to hate Government intervention and social programs so much to still be taking advantage of and benefitting from all of its social programs.

If one gets looted and

If one gets looted and regulated one would be an idiot not to take some of the crumbs of that looting and regulation.

I was walking on the greenbelt...

and two guys jumped out of the bushes and regulated me. Afterwards, I sat down and sadly ate the leftover crumbs.

Probably said it was for

Probably said it was for your own good (and their retirement funds)

If any dem thinks life in USA will be better in

next 4 years, they need to view the past 4 years and take some responsibility....

The 47% will grow....Americans needing foodstamps because of a failed economy will grow under Republicans, or continue to skyrocket under Dem leadership....

Folks, the USA is in trouble....if we saw our future in 3-6 years we would all vote for massive changes....

Id like to read to anti-dem stuff once in awhile from mainstream media, but you cant....only internet and once in awhile Fox News, but even Fox is becoming too moderate....

Republicans know you need Government at all levels--National, State, and City....The only thing we have learned in the last 8 years is that Democrats can outspend the 'big' spending Republicans....and we thought Bush was a big spender?

But it now appears that Dems

are the only party interested in balancing the budget. The Bush deficits were caused by massive tax cuts (mostly benefitting the wealthy), at the same time two wars began and the new 'part D Medicare' drug program was enacted. At no time in the past has the USA gone to war without paying for it with taxes, war bonds, etc. Note also that Clinton managed to balance the budget, with a fiscal surplus by the end of his term.

Who knew that Republicans would become the party of fiscal irresponsibility?

Clinton said it best recently: "Republicans admit they made a he11 of a mess for Obama when he took office; but since he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, voters should put us back in."


How are the Dems outspending the Repubs?

In case you haven't noticed, one branch of the Congress is controlled by Republicans, and spending bills require both houses to pass them before they go to the president for signature.

Ugly...do you even know how our government works?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart