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Mitt '1%' Romney: "I'm Not Concerned with the Very Poor"

The GOP candidate says 'safety net' protects poor from destitution. The same 'safety net' he wants to gut

Common Dreams staff

The morning after his primary win in Florida, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney seemed to confirm once again his indifference to poverty in the United State by saying, in an interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, "I'm not concerned with the very poor."

Here's the clip:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” Romney told CNN.

O’Brien countered that very poor Americans, struggling in the midst of a recession, might think a comment like this "sounds odd" coming from a multi-millionaire presidential candidate.

“The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor,” Romney responded, after repeating that he would fix any holes in the safety net. “And there’s no question it’s not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor . . . My focus is on middle income Americans ... we have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor.”


Mitt Romney Praises Safety Net He Wants To Shred

Matt Yglesias writes at Slate:

The fact that Mitt Romney isn't concerned with the fate of poor people is hardly shocking news, but his stated explanation for why he's indifferent to the most intense economic suffering in the country is interesting.

“I’m not concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there,” Romney told CNN. “If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”

There's a certain logic to that position. Except that if you read Romney's policy agenda what he appears to think about the social safety net for the poor is that it should be drastically curtailed. He proposes the following five points:

  • Immediately cut nonsecurity discretionary spending by 5 percent.
  • Reform and restructure Medicaid as block grant to states.
  • Align wages and benefits of government workers with market rates.
  • Reduce federal workforce by 10 percent via attrition.
  • Undertake fundamental restructuring of government programs and services.

In other words he wants to cut the safety net, cut the health care part of the safety net, muck around with the federal workforce, and then cut the non-health care part of the safety net. To further clarify, he states that he "will immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP" while increasing defense spending. Which is to say he wants to cut social safety net spending. What's more "as spending comes under control, he will pursue further cuts that would allow caps to be set even lower so as to guarantee future fiscal stability," thus cutting social safety net spending even further.  [...]

[What's] extremely strange for Romney to be running on agenda of sharp cuts to the social safety net while citing the safety net's existence as a key reason to be indifferent to the plight of the poor. It's quite true that we have a safety net for poor people right now, but we won't have one for long if Romney's budget ideas are implemented.

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