Mitt Romney and the “safety net”

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Mitt Romney recent quote that he is “not concerned about the very poor” has already been used in all sorts of ways, sometimes unfairly.

The actual quote in context was:

“I’m in this race because I care about Americans. 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, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 95% of Americans who are right now struggling.”

While it certainly contains a poor sound byte, it also seems to be a pretty standard attempt to appeal to the middle class, something that almost every candidate for president (including the current one) does. In and of itself, it does not mean Romney does not care for the very poor. While it’s business as usual to trumpet a sound byte, it is best to focus on the substance of what is being said.

It is a valid question to ask what Romney means concerning “fixing” the safety net for the very poor.

Robert Greenstein, founder of the non-profit, non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, writes:

We’re glad the governor is expressing support for a safety net and for fixing it if it needs repair. Yet his own budget proposals would tear gaping holes in the safety net and damage it severely.

Greenstein goes on to show how the Romney budget proposals would make massive cuts in safety-net programs. And while cutting low-income programs, Governor Romney would actually raise taxes on low-income families.

The plan would do so by letting certain tax measures that benefit low-income families expire at the end of 2012 — including measures that reduce marriage tax penalties on working-poor families and help low-income students afford college — even as it made permanent all of the expiring tax cuts for wealthy individuals and abolished the estate tax.

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tgflux
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tgflux

Per usual, I think Jon Stewart had the best take on Mitt's muff.

[Paraphrasing]

"Let's take this in context, and assume the BEST of what Mitt meant: the very poor have a safety net.

But you're still in a net!

And whether you're a butterfly, a fish, or a trapeze artist, you DON'T want to be in a net."

Word!

JC Fisher

...who's in a kindness-/patience-of-family net. With its own insecurities. :-S

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Kurt Wiesner
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Kurt Wiesner

J Michael: I'm glad you responded.

I put this on Cafe for two reasons:

1) To comment on the way people have responded to the Romney's sound byte by saying "Mitt Romney does not care about the poor...look, he said so." That is deceptive and clearly outside the spirit of what he was trying to say. It's a literalistic trap opponents delight in instead of discerning meaning. I believe part of our responsibility, as people of faith, is to wrestle with real issues and not resort to promoting unfortunate choices in words.

2) It is important that Mitt Romney commented that there is a "safety net" for the poor and that he is ready to fix it. That is critical to the Christian mission to care for the poor. His proposed policy, however, does not do this. That is absolutely a conversation Christians are to have.

Kurt Wiesner

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

J. Michael Povey -- I think because Jesus said something about caring for the "least of these"??

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J Michael Povey
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J Michael Povey

Hi there Episcopal Cafe friends.

I write as a left of center Christian. I am all in favour of progressive politics.

BUT ... I could have read this stuff about Mitt elsewhere.

I am not very happy that Episcopal Cafe chose to highlight it.

In my opinion it is a political piece, devoid of any reference to our Episcopal (let alone Christian) tradition.

In other words (even though I agree with the substance of the article) it's hard for me to understand why it should be included on Episcopal Cafe

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Michael Russell
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Michael Russell

Romney is just saying whatever it takes to get the nomination. He can't pander to the right in the general election because he will surely lose. He can't go too far to the enter or he will lose his base and lose the election. Newt, Mitt or Rick make no difference, their policies are all to mean spirited to get them elected. And they have left too many sound bites on the floor to move much to the center should they get the nomination.

What we are seeing here, I think is the self-immolation of the Republican Right. So I am all for them keeping it going, longer and longer.

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