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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/5/13

Ted Nugent's Presidential Pitch: Disenfranchise The Working Poor And The Elderly

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Original published at Media Matters

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent proposed a compromise that would trade closing the gun show loophole for closing what he deemed "the federal voting loophole," which allows individuals who do not pay federal income tax to vote.

Implementing this plan would involve taking away the vote from a large number of Americans who work but do not owe federal income taxes as well as retirees and some individuals who cannot work because of illness or disability.

In a December 4 column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent -- calling himself a "prospective presidential candidate in 2016" -- framed his proposal as "a Great Compromise" and suggested that he would be willing to risk provoking the ire of gun activists (including his fellow NRA board members) in order to ensure its enactment.

The NRA vehemently opposes closing the gun show loophole -- a term used to describe the fact that many firearms sales at gun shows are conducted without a background check -- even though gun shows have been linked to firearms trafficking operations and terrorist activity. Earlier this year, the gun rights organization repeatedly spread false information about a failed U.S. Senate proposal to require background checks on sales at gun shows and at other commercial venues.

While Nugent wrote that his compromise is "mighty presidential of" him and suggested it "will make both sides of the political spectrum happy," his proposal would involve disenfranchising a substantial number of Americans.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney infamously described the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes as "victims ... who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it." While many voters were turned off by Romney's comments, right-wing media celebrated the Republican candidate's comments to advance a narrative that those who do not pay federal taxes are parasites on society.

Those same 47 percent would be disenfranchised under Nugent's plan. But as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities director of federal tax policy Chuck Marr noted during the Romney controversy, "[m]ost of the people who don't owe federal income tax are workers, elderly, disabled, or students."

Marr also discussed how workers who do not owe federal income taxes include millions employed in the construction, factory, retail, health care and restaurant industries and that many of these people do pay payroll, excise, and state and local taxes:

The largest single category is people who work. Here are just a few examples, based on our analysis of Census data:

  • 2.1 million are construction workers.
  • 2.1 million work in factories and other manufacturing jobs.
  • 4.5 million work in retail stores.
  • 2.7 million help care for patients in hospitals and doctors' offices and assist elderly people in nursing homes.
  • 3.5 million work in the restaurant and food service industry.

Nugent has a lengthy history of attacking impoverished individuals. During an August 6 concert he claimed that individuals who receive food assistance are "cocksuckers" and "pussies." He has also previously suggested suspending the right to vote for "any American who is on welfare." Nugent -- who has also claimed those on welfare are in the "liability column" in America -- frequently attacked recipients of public assistance in his now defunct column for The Washington Times.

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
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