Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why MItt Romney should worry about the very poor

For any reasonable person, his comment about not worrying about the very poor because there is a safety net is ridiculous enough at first glance. But this data, pointed out by Amy Davidson, makes it even more ridiculous:

Wednesday morning, explaining that his campaign was all about the middle class, he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” He also said that he wasn’t worried about the very rich, by which one assumes he means those not in his immediate family. Statistically speaking, though, that amounts to a disproportionate disinterest in children, at least, in children of the sort that his competitor Newt Gingrich would like to see put to work as janitors. According to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, children “are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population.” (Romney guessed that the not very poor, not very rich made up “ninety, ninety-five” per cent of the population.) Twenty-two per cent of the children in the United States live below the poverty level, which is defined as $22,314 for a family of four. The numbers break down to two-fifths of black children, a third of Hispanic children, and one in every eight white children. The candidates have stocked the stages at their speeches with enough kids to cast several school plays; it might help if they tried to imagine them in other roles, and other lives. The safety net might be enough to keep America’s poor children going, but that’s not enough; neither, in the end, are songs, however beautiful. What they need is a ladder.

So Romney doesn't care about these kids because the safety net that is provided to them by the gov't is sufficient. And if it's not, he will fix it. But as Matt Yglesias points out, he is campaigning on cutting more holes in that net.

But hey, this is just Romney being Romney. He is a completely shameless panderer. He knows that Republican voters don't give a shit about the poor. And he knows that a lot of them are currently a bit resentful of the very rich. So he is trying to focus on the demographic that will get him the most votes. That's rational. But it's ideologically pathetic to suggest you are going to tailor policy towards people who are more well off than the worst off in your society.

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