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Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 in Economy, Politics, Society | 6 comments

Romney’s Gaffe About The Poor Masks Unpleasant Realities About America

Mitt Romney’s gaffe about poor people has triggered an overdue if likely short-lived debate about America’s underclass.

Speaking to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien after his victory in the Florida Republican primary, Romney blurted out, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Taken in context, the remark wasn’t quite what it seemed to be because the candidate, in another of his breathtaking flip-flops, said in the course of the interview that he was confident that the government safety net would take care of the poor and could be repaired if it doesn’t, which was a sharp reversal from his previous position and one at odds with conservative Republicans who carp endlessly about how undeserving the poor are of any government help.

Predictably and correctly, the news media, Democrats and many Republicans are painting Romney as out of touch (he made a similar remark in October), but they miss a larger point: The real outrage is not that he doesn’t want to do more for the poor; it’s that he thinks they are well taken care of and worse yet, that the welfare state is working just fine, thank you.

The facts are these:

The nation’s poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent (46.2 million) in 2010, up from 14.3 percent (43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. A large percentage of those millions are children, and people with annual incomes under $25,000 — some 28.7 percent — don’t have any kind of health insurance.

The government’s definition of poverty is based on total income received. For example, the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four. Most Americans (58.5 percent) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75.

There certainly are welfare queens and others among these many millions who are too lazy to work, as well as people who receive government aid and spend assistance money not on food but drugs and other vices. But the vast majority are poor not by choice, and the government safety net is full of holes despite a welter of programs, including Medicaid, LIHEAP, Food Stamps, unemployment payments and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, all programs that many Republicans want to cut back or eliminate altogether.

On January 22, which is light years in the past considering Romney’s serial vacillations, he asserted that safety-net programs have “massive overhead,” and that because of the cost of a huge bureaucracy “very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.”

Romney’s own tax plan probably would have a devastating impact on the safety net.

Under the plan, the Bush tax cuts and taxes on corporations, the wealthy, and upper-middle class investors would be sharply cut while tax breaks that help the poor would expire. The result, according to the Tax Policy Center, would be a $69 tax cut for the average individual in the bottom 20 percent and a $164,000 tax cut for the average individual in the top one percent to be paid for through unspecified cuts to domestic programs which mostly go to the poor and the elderly.

So we’ll take it on faith that Romney is not concerned about the poor but seems to be awfully concerned about the rich, no?

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • wesleypresley

    Romney need only walk down Market Street in San Francisco to know the poor are not being cared for in America. Today on Super Bowl Sunday we had to call an ambulance for a homeless vet in a wheelchair who was in bad shape from his diabetes.
    Or perhaps Romney should visit the Navajo or Pine Ridge Indian Reservations if he thinks America cares for its poor.
    Tragic Romney can make these kinds of statements and still be considered Presidential material.

  • The_Ohioan

    Perhaps Mr. Romney should be confronted with the statistics – 35 million children hungry each day, hundreds of thousands of children are homeless and the situation is growing worse as more homes are foreclosed and charities have reached their limits.

    I suggest Mr. Gingrich pose these questions in the next debate, if there is one. It would be interesting to hear his answer or to hear if he is even aware of the magnitude of the problem.

    [ The number of children living in poverty in the U.S. is up nearly 20 percent from 2000, according to the NCCP, because of higher unemployment and foreclosures. It’s a problem across the nation but children are the worst off in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They fare better in New Hampshire, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

    U.S. food banks say they face slow and steady starvation rather than sudden African famine.

    “We talk about global hunger and we have extended tummies and we have sad eyes,” said Marie Scannell, executive director of the Food Bank of Somerset County in New Jersey. “That’s not what you’ll see…]

    Just the sad eyes.

  • dduck
  • dduck:

    Thank you for the link. While I would never compare myself to the great KThug, his column and my post are good bookends.

  • Rcoutme

    FDR introduced all sorts of legislation to combat poverty during the Great Depression. During his second term of office, he listened to his more conservative advisers and began tightening up the Federal Spending.

    How did that work out?

    We went right back into the depression and did not come out until foreign nations began importing all sorts of stuff from us.

    What caused them to buy our stuff?

    Military forces blew up all the industrialized countries in the world except for Canada and the U.S. We were the manufacturers of last resort.

  • Billy

    @ The_Ohioan – Before you spout off about confronting anyone with statistics, perhaps you should verify your numbers. 35 million children hungry in America?? WOW!! There are only 74.8 million Americans under the age of 18. I look around and for the life of me can’t figure out where almost HALF of the children are hungry. A bulls#%t statistic made up in the mind of some liberal and they run with it like it is the gospel. CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE POSTING.

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