As fun as it is to watch the Republicans take populist jabs at each other over making too much money and paying too little in taxes (who would have thought, right?), one needs to be careful to compare apples to apples.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney, or any candidate for that matter, but rather an illustration of how easy it is to distort facts.

Romney is taking heat because, according to the media reports, the 15 percent rate he paid on his taxes is “lower than most Americans pay.” However, this only considers those households that paid any federal income taxes at all, only looks at marginal tax rates (the rate paid on the last dollar of earnings) instead effective rates (the total tax divided by total income), and leaves out the corporate taxes paid by the businesses before returning money to the shareholders.

First, according to the Wall Street Journal, 47 percent of Americans paid no federal income tax in 2009, and though things may be better today, I doubt they are that much better.

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