Pew Research Center released a report on Thursday showing that Republican leaning voters with family incomes of less than $30,000 are much more likely than those with incomes of $75,000 or more to say that our governmental system favors the wealthy. The report also notes its timing with recent comments by Mitt Romney. On Wednesday Mitt Romney made a comment that has since gone viral: “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there,” he said. “If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”
The “very poor” are Americans, Mr. Romney.
I’m not exactly sure what he means by very poor, but I’d say the net needs a fixin’. The latest census data show that nearly 1 in 2 – have fallen into poverty that now classifies them as low income as well as a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net is breaking. These startling numbers come on top of years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.
Despite this discouraging fact, “Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they’re simply too 'rich' to qualify" according to Sheldon Danziger, at the University of Michigan.
As a GOP frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination Romney’s comment will probably not win many votes among the lower income members of the Republican Party.
The survey was conducted last October. It showed that 57 percent of lower-income Republicans apparently believe that the government doesn’t do enough for poor people as opposed to 18 percent said it does too much. This compares to higher-income Republicans with incomes of $75,000 or more who say that by roughly two-to-one (44% to 21%), the government does too much.
I’ll be the first to admit that an aspiration to increase in wealth and economic class is a healthy trait for anyone to have, American or otherwise. The Republicans perennial claim is that tax breaks and deregulation will create the incentives to create jobs. Unfortunately that certainly has not been the case for well over a decade since the Bush tax cuts were passed. Even conservative House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was recently quoted as saying that in the United States, income mobility from lower to middle classes we lag behind other nations.
Romney added, “But my campaign is focused on middle-income Americans.” He then said, “My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That’s not my focus.”
Beyond simply political considerations, Mr. Romney may need to be reminded that for a strong America “united we stand”. That includes ALL people. To focus on one class over all others, whether lower, middle or upper practices the very class warfare he has accused others of inflicting.
His comment about which class his campaign focuses on might have been a day late and a dollar short for him to be giving any serious thought to the Oval Office.