binarstu writes: Mitt Romney's secretly-recorded comments about the "47%" of Americans who he believes are government dependents that "pay no income tax" have fueled new debate about U.S. tax policies. His claims don't hold up so well, however, when confronted with the data. First, as reported in the New York Times, a 2008 study by Cornell University reveals that "nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them." And a recent piece in the Washington Post explains why the "47%" analysis is fundamentally flawed. From the latter: "At the heart of the debate over “the 47 percent” is an awful abuse of tax data. This entire conversation is the result of a (largely successful) effort to redefine the debate over taxes from “how much in taxes do you pay” to “how much in federal income taxes do you pay?” This is good framing if you want to cut taxes on the rich. It’s bad framing if you want to have even a basic understanding of who pays how much in taxes."