The conversation got heated Monday at a Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook meeting, where U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, of Southampton, attended to deliver updates from Capitol Hill.
An audience member told Bishop, "All the federal government does is try to regulate our lives" and decried the Americans who do not pay federal income taxes, commonly known at the "47 percent" since an infamous video of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney making remarks to campaign donors on Boca Raton was released. The man told Bishop that the government is giving away money to half the country, so the wealthy get attacked and have their taxes raised.
Bishop took exception to the suggestion that the government is "attacking" high-earners.
"First of all, let's look at who the 47 percent are who you are derisive of," Bishop replied. "Sir, 65 percent of the 47 percent of the people that don't pay taxes, are seniors. A significant percentage of them are members of the active duty military, so I am not going to be dismissive of them, and I am not going to characterize them in any way other than that they are our fellow citizens."
For the full conversation, watch the video above.