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