Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

Quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney to Soledad O’Brien on CNN:

“Romney says, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

O’Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, “There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.'”

Romney continues, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor…. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus….”

Some statistics:

•Nearly 47 million people were in poverty in the US in 2010, up from 37.3 million in 2007. That was the 4th year in a row in which the number of people in poverty increased. In the 52 years that poverty rates have been being published, this is the largest number ever.

•20.5 million Americans are in “extreme poverty.” That is, their family income is $10,000 or less a year for a family of 4, about half that of the poverty line. But since they’re so well taken care of, Romney is not interested in those 20 million people. Or maybe it is because he knows that they don’t typically vote, being too busy on Tuesdays trying to make a living.

• There were 17.2 million households or about 1 in 7 that were food insecure in the US in 2010, the highest number ever recorded. (“Food insecure” means “at risk of going hungry.” About 1/3 of these households, or over 6 million, actually went hungry at some points of the year because they were not able to afford food. This hunger encompassed the children as well. Romney’s safety net is leaving millions of children hungry at times. He seems to get plenty of nice meals.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Responses | Print |

25 Responses

  1. The Poor and the shrinking Middle Class are to be used in the gears of Industry and War. Romney and his Vulture Capitalist buddies have always viewed as mere cogs to be used when young and healthy and discarded when old or broken.

    • In a world where population explosion is a common term and outsourcing is the order of the day to take advantage of it and on top of that, we breed our own replacements, we are nothing and less than nothing.

      We work at jobs to produce the products that earn our pay, so that we can then almost afford to buy the products that we produce.

      We are a managed commodity.

      When does the madness end.

  2. Ro-money reminds me of someone. . . .

    “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
    ~ Ebenezer Scrooge

  3. The poor? Let them eat cake! Oh, that quote’s already taken.

    I’d like to believe Mitt just failed to edit himself properly and misspoke. Or maybe he failed to put this in context and it looks worse than it is.

    But it looks bad. Really bad. He keeps saying on the campaign trail that Obama’s “out of touch,” but the dude ought to look in the mirror.

  4. It’s pretty standard wedge politics, it’s just that Romney was a bit clumsy in his wording. By “poor” people benefiting from the “safety net” he meant “people on welfare”, part of an overall Republican message about a class of undeserving poor people who get ‘free stuff that the rest of us have to work for.’ In that final statement, he’s basically saying that if you vote for a Democrat, your hard earned money will go to the undeserving poor.

    It’s another iteration of Santorum’s “I don’t want to make bla… ah people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money”, or whatever we’re supposed to believe he said.

  5. At least he mentions the poor. The other candidates, including Obama, speak only of the middle class. Romney says that if the safety net needs repair, he’ll fix it. I doubt that. But millions of Americans get some kind of government help. In California, it’s a Democratic governor who’s cutting programs for the poor.

  6. Romney stepped in it again.

    His statement suggests that the poor are doing just fine with food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid. And they ought to be damned happy about all those goodies they are getting. (Cockroaches thrown in for free.) Good God dude. Do you think they too don’t aspire to better things — like the so-called “middle class,” whose votes you are courting?

    “Out of touch” doesn’t begin to describe you.

  7. Herbert Hoover once said, “If you haven’t made a million dollars by the time you’re 30, you’re not much of a man.” (He had.)

    We elected him president anyway. And paid for it.

    If we don’t punish them for these attitudes, they will keep screwing us.

  8. Those 20 million who are too busy to vote are husslin to make a living and couldn’t give a shit about politicking because they are too busy husslin to survive.

  9. If I were poor I’d be very frightened about politics developing out of the 1% vs the 99% mantra. It carries the implication that families that are quite well off, and those who are comfortable with what they earn, need to be thrown a rope.

    For politicians like Romney and Obama, this give a nice opening to swoon over the plight of the heavy voting rich and comfortable instead of over the misery of the light voting poor. Romney can sit among the “Occupy…..” and pretty much take up the challenges facing the 99% (at least a nice portion of them) while ignoring the poor entirely, because its not about the helping the poor.

    Its easy to dream up ideas to help the middle and upper class because they really don’t have to work – the targets are fine as they are. The dreaded thing is being move over to the poor column – which, as pointed out by Prof Cole, is a relatively common occurrence. So instead of making promises they have no intention of keeping, the big shots should be making this country a more comfortable place to be poor (like creating universal health care).

  10. Thanks Juan, I, and probably a lot of people, wouldn’t hear these things unless we got a chance to read them somewhere.

  11. The middle class is continuing to shrink. Income has been stagnant for 40 years. It’s the collapse of the middle class that is the greatest threat to this country in many ways. Who are these people who are swelling the poor numbers? A lot of them are people who have fallen out of the middle class. Romney is saying his focus is to bring back the middle class as opposed to focusing on the poor. I don’t get it, why is this such a controversial statement? He says the safety net is there for the poor. He is correct, right? Welfare, food stamps, social security, unemployment insurance. Shall we add planned parenthood? How is the federal government going to help the poor? One major way is to bring back the middle class. Where does giving to the poor come from? Is that the function of the federal government exclusively? Giving has traditionally been from a middle class that has disposable income to share at a local level through local institutions where, very possibly, the resources are doled out most efficiently. Where are new jobs for the poor going to come from. Mostly, we would hope, from a private economy that rises out of a prospering middle class. I’m no fan of Romney, but I think this is just a cheap shot at him. He covered his bases in these statements. On the other hand, if you want to start pointing at Wall Street, and more importantly, monetary policy, as the source of the increasing poor and shrinking middle class, then I’m all behind you. Yeah, let’s talk reality. Let’s talk about why the middle class is shrinking and a poor is increasing. Am I concerned about the poor–sure–but as a wise man once said, “the poor you will have always.” A middle class, on the other hand, no necessarily so.

    • The policies of the current (insane) Republican party are intended to make sure “the poor you will always have” AND increase their ranks by destroying the middle class.

  12. Thanks for the post Juan – the stats you cite are only a part of the problem. I recently attended a conference about food insecurity in my home state, and one of the speakers, a pediatrician from Harvard, gave a hair-raising talk about the cost of having so many children in poverty in this country. The upshot: poverty, particularly for our children, is very very expensive. Having a whopping 20% of our children experiencing hunger at any one time, many between the ages of 0-6, results in privations that have further serious implications down the road.

    Violent behavior, low potential for intellectual growth, illnesses in adulthood – all of these perpetuate the need for social services that cost society down the road, and also result in lower earning potential, hence lower revenue potential for the state. Many of the parents of these children have had bad luck or simply ill-equipped to care for these children. Blaming the parent is a non-starter.

    Any humane person knows that having hungry children in our society in an effort to punish supposedly “lazy” or “ne’er-do’well” parents is itself a moral failure (not to mention intellectually lazy on the part of people who refuse to expend the energy to learn about the complexity of this issue), not to mention generally despicable.

    But I’m afraid the voting public will only come around on this issue when they are flooded with a message that shows just how much cutting, say, SNAP, costs them down the road. And by the way, the so-called private sector, that is, all the food banks and pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters, statistically speaking, can deliver a paltry 36 meals a month to a family of four, while the government SNAP program can deliver 252. Cut SNAP by 6%, and it will effectively force already over-worked (and largely volunteer) food banks and soup kitchens to double their efforts, an impossible task.

    I’d give anything to see a talk like the one at this summit aired for a mere 30 minutes on the major news networks over the grotesque circus of heartless men fighting to go to DC to collect dust for four years and big bucks after.

  13. And these guys blame Obama for waging ‘class warfare?’ The brainless fools gift the man in the W/H every time they open their mouths.

    I believe no matter how bad the economy gets, blame will not stick as much to Obama as the fear of another Republican regency.

  14. I don’t think R’s comment is worthy of a freak-out. At lease, unlike others, you provide the entire quote.

  15. “We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it.”

    Everyone is obsessing about “I don’t care about the poor.” It surprises me that there’s no significant pushback from the rightwing on “if the safety net needs a repair, I’ll fix it.” The social safety net is, as several other commenters have noted, anathema to the current Republican philosophy. Let them starve or bleed to death in the streets! That’ll teach them to work harder!

    (Frankly, socialism is looking better and better…)

  16. Opening your wallet and handing someone $60 bucks to pay a utility bill is not a very well designed safety-net

  17. This is all the politics of saying (whatever) it takes for him to grab the magic Ring (think Golum in The Hobbit).

    Romney’s intention is to create a wedge between those who think of themselves as “middle class” and the poor. Obama etal are setting their own wedge high, between the middle and upper class, while the GOP is going low. From a strictly sporting perspective, the GOP is taking a far better tact, as only a fool takes on someone who is capable of fighting back.

    In this case, the genuinely poor are too busy scrabbling to get their next meal, much less become effectively involved in politics (even to the extent of casting a vote), thus they are the perfect patsies for the politics of division. If successful, the GOP can consolidate the working poor, whose lot has been deteriorating, with their ongoing con that the middle class is somehow on the “inside” and needs to defend itself against the Welfare Cadillac, etc.

    This is an insidious strategy, but it’s one the GOP has been developing since the 1960’s, when they took in all those disaffected Southern Democrats LBJ lost in the name of civil rights. The one thing rednecks have to cling onto, other than their guns, religion, and domination of women-folk, is their superiority to “coloreds.” It’s tough for these people to look at themselves in the mirror unless they think the there’s someone beneath them.

    Thinking Big Picture, the leifmotif here is essentially an appeal to the timeless attractions of slavery. (It applies to international as well as domestic politics as well). Remember, the ostensible abolition of slavery was a very, very recent development, and historically speaking there would be a very natural inclination and disposition for society to backslide.

    • Your last paragraph is one of those Things Americans Aren’t Supposed To Say, so I’m glad you did. How dare we imply that conservative culture yearns for a restoration of Jim Crow? Even if they do fly Confederate flags, piss on Abe Lincoln (still), look for every opportunity to remove blacks from voter rolls, and worship the holy slaveowner trinity of weak federal government plus states’ rights, unlimited property rights, and gun rights? Even if the KKK was truly a patriot militia that won.

      The mythologized good old days are strangling the blood flow to our brains. The myth must be destroyed or our future will be.

  18. slavery…or the ‘lord of the castle’ sending his troops into the village outside (below) the moat where all the goods are produced, collecting the annual taxes and crops. beating the villagers so they know how hopeless it is to resist. after all, doesn’t the duke, count, baron…whatever, fight the villagers battles and keep them safe from harm. ah, progress.

  19. I came to this conversation late, so briefly:

    Less oil flows every year since 2005. Ergo, less food will be grown using diesel fuel. Lacking farm animals, food producers will turn to farm labor. Where will this labor come from? From homeless, unemployed.

    Climate change reduces soil moisture at the latitudes where food is grown. Less food is grown. Whose children will go without? Those who can’t fight back. Homeless, unemployed.

    Romney’s ‘very poor’ is a segment that increases … before it decreases.

    Evil man.

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