Conservatives are really hyped up right now, in advance of Tax Day, on a tiny little statistic, taking it out of context, and blowing it all out of proportion to try to make the case that the United States has turned into a welfare state where nearly half of all Americans don’t pay any taxes, they just leach off the rest of us.

This is…what is the word I am looking for here…it’s on the tip of my tongue……oh yes, I have it now…bullshit.

It is Faux Newspeak used to describe the same poor people that “Ronaldus Maximus” called welfare queens and who the Wall Street Journal refered to as “lucky duckies”.

Back then, Farhad Manjoo at Salon did a wonderful takedown of the assholes at the Journal who wrote that drivel, and reminded his readers that the poor actually pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes when the sum totals are added up – they just don’t pay much, if any federal income tax. Those two qualifiers are mighty important.

Forty-seven percent.

That’s the portion of American households that owe no income tax for 2009. The number is up from 38 percent in 2007, and it has become a popular talking point on cable television and talk radio. With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.

Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.

Given that taxes are likely to be one of the big political issues of the next few years – and maybe the biggest one – it’s worth understanding who really pays what in taxes. Once you do, you can get a sense for our country’s fiscal options. How, in other words, will we be able to close the huge looming gap between the taxes we are scheduled to pay and the services we are scheduled to receive?

The answer is that tax rates almost certainly have to rise more on the affluent than on other groups. Over the last 30 years, rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.

So a much greater share of income is now concentrated at the top of distribution, while each dollar there is taxed less than it once was.

Given that taxes are likely to be one of the big political issues of the next few years – and maybe the biggest one – it’s worth understanding who really pays what in taxes. Once you do, you can get a sense for our country’s fiscal options. How, in other words, will we be able to close the huge looming gap between the taxes we are scheduled to pay and the services we are scheduled to receive?

The answer is that tax rates almost certainly have to rise more on the affluent than on other groups. Over the last 30 years, rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.

So a much greater share of income is now concentrated at the top of distribution, while each dollar there is taxed less than it once was. It’s true that raising taxes on the rich alone can’t come close to solving the long-term budget problem. The deficit is simply too big. But if taxes are not increased for the wealthy, the country will be left with two options.

It will have to raise taxes even more than it otherwise would on everybody else. Or it will have to find deep cuts in Medicare, Social Security, military spending and the other large (generally popular) federal programs.

All the attention being showered on “47 percent” is ultimately a distraction from that reality.

If you want to know the actual percentage of people who pay no federal taxes whatsoever, it is about ten percent, not forty-seven percent. Ten. T-E-N, one-zero, ten. So don’t get suckered into believing the rhetoric and spin. After years and years and years of coddling the rich at the expense of the rest of us, the folks who do the work and make the economy work for the corpulent bastards, got a break.

The stimulus packages that saved us from economic oblivion provided…wait for it…tax credits that offset the tax liability for many middle and working class Americans this year.

Yes, in other words the republicans are now whining about tax cuts. This time it is not that they want more of them, but that the wrong people got them the last time around. If their rich cronies aren’t the ones helped, it doesn’t count, apparently.