Friday, February 03, 2012

Thank you, Gov. Romney!

Day before yesterday, Mitt Romney made it very clear that he's "not concerned about the very poor."  Actually, as news agencies made clear in the aftermath of the GOP candidate for President's relatively shocking statement, Romney has been saying this or something much like it for months. 

I'm grateful to Mr. Romney for being so clear.  But even more, I'm so thankful that at last someone brought the issue of poverty and extreme poverty into the national conversation.  No one else has been talking about the poor much at all.  Over the last two days that has changed.  Thank goodness!

Romney said that the focus of his campaign was not the extremely poor  or the extremely rich, but the 95% of Americans who are middle class. 

Now there are a few glaring problems with his analysis.

First, he explained that the extremely poor had a "safety net" to provide for them.  He even went so far as to promise that if he found the safety net in need of repair, he would fix it.  I immediately wanted to call him up and invite him down to Texas because our "safety net" is in a world of hurt these days!  Name the issue or need and Texas under performs terribly.

Food security and hunger.

Uninsured citizens.

Childhood poverty.

Decent and affordable housing for our workforce and the homeless.

Public education.

Loans/grants for higher education.

Public health.

Workforce training.

Living wages.

Mental health funding.

Dental services for the poor.

Child care and early childhood development.

Public transportation. 

The list could go on and on. 

The wealth gap grows in our state and in our urban centers, but the net doesn't hold.  Besides, we need a platform for folks to stand on and find traction and stability, not a net into which to fall helplessly. 

So, come on out to Texas, Governor!

Second, there's the problem of the Governor's math: the 95% in the middle.  With 1 in 5 Americans, 1 in 4 children, conservatively estimated, to be living in poverty, there is no 95% to be concerned about!  The bottom 30-plus % of our fellow citizens live impoverished lives and things are not improving for them as their numbers swell.  But, the Governor says he's not concerned about the poor.  I guess not, he doesn't even know how many poor folks there are in the U. S. today.  Not good for a President, I'd say.

Still, he brought the subject to the top of our minds.  For that I remain grateful.

[Editorial note:  This morning reports have the Governor saying that he "misspoke" when he said he "didn't care about the extremely poor."  Wonder how that could ever happen?]

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Poverty has been part of the national conversation since President Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1964. Billions of dollars has been spent to eliminate poverty and yet it has only become worse. In fact, a good case can be made that all these federal programs have done more to keep people mired in poverty than helped them get out.

Anonymous said...

You could make that argument.

You could also make the argument that those programs, while not "ending" poverty, have made it much less harsh than it was prior to the 60's. They may still be poor, but far fewer people live in dangerous homes that should be condemned or go hungry on a regular basis because we provide a minimal safety net.

Romney's statement makes me shudder. Everyone - certainly every presidential candidate - should know that 15% of Americans live in poverty, even in the restrictive way we define that term. And another 15% (at least) barely make it and could easily slip into 'official' poverty. To say he's "not worried" about such people - 30% of Americans- when he himself makes 10's of millions, is so callous it makes me cringe. No amount of "context" fixes such a statement.

Larry James said...

LBJ helped create stronger, black middle class and he drove poverty down by 19% esp among the elderly wiht Medicare. Had it not been for his war in SE Asia, it would have had even more impact. Solutions will not be found in old welfare legislation, but we aren't being proactive or creative in providing options for those who want to do better. That's just a fact.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Romney gives a bigger percentage of his income to charity than Pres. Obama.

Anonymous said...

How much to the extremely poor as compared to the mission funds of the Morman church?????

rcorum said...

I am amazed that you pounce on one statement by the only private sector jobs creator running for President. As another post stated just look at people like President Obama and especially Biden who gave just a few hundred dollars to charity. The second I heard this I suspected that you would jump all over this, and I wasn't disappointed. I still love you brother, but I think you fall into the statistics trap by throwing numbers out and when I do some fact checking there is almost always another way to analyze the numbers. I just don't understand your seeming love for the federal government. Just out of curiosity, how often do you refer to the Heritage Foundation for a source? Not trying to be mean, I just want you to use more than a sound bite that was taken out of context.

rcorum said...

Don't get me wrong. Romney would have been better suited not to have made that comment. I am no big fan of Romney. If folks think there is some great cause and effect between Johnson's legislation and a reduction need to think long and hard before making the connection. I would love for a few of you to look at the following article . I just Googled Johnson and "war on poverty," and it was hit after hit. When people start throwing statistics around I start getting nervous simply because you can use one to prove almost anything. In my opinion this President has been a near total disaster, and is leading this country into a hole which it might never be able to climb. Class warfare might garner votes, but it will only divide and destroy out country.

rcorum said...

Don't get me wrong. Romney would have been better suited not to have made that comment. I am no big fan of Romney. If folks think there is some great cause and effect between Johnson's legislation and a reduction need to think long and hard before making the connection. I would love for a few of you to look at the following article http://mises.org/daily/1126 I just Googled Johnson and "war on poverty," and it was hit after hit. When people start throwing statistics around I start getting nervous simply because you can use one to prove almost anything. In my opinion this President has been a near total disaster, and is leading this country into a hole which it might never be able to climb. Class warfare might garner votes, but it will only divide and destroy out country.

Dan Vaughn said...

"Class warfare might garner votes, but it will only divide and destroy out country." So rather than upset the status-quo and upset the privileged 1% by demanding some accountability we should just sit back quietly hope we remain a part of the shrinking middle-class (if we aren't squeezed out of it already). If there is a class war was begun by countless acts of legislation, greed and corporate lobbyists who care less about the poor and the not-quit-poor than about their own profit margins. I am flat out disgusted by our growing plutocracy and the fearful, but blind middle-class that follow them.

Larry James said...

RC, I doubt there is any convincing you. My studies at Tulane U included serious evaluation of the Vietnam era, the Am Civil Rights Movement and the Johnson Administration. Let's agree to leave both Heritage Foundation (forgive me but I got all of that worldview I could digest at Harding U!) and MSNBC or Soros off the table. The facts about Johnson's policy impact on the poor, the elderly and African Americans simply don't support your contentions. Poverty fell by 19%, the black middle class emerged, markets expanded due to humane social policies. Reagan's mythical welfare Cadillac shaped the American consciousness more than it should have, but Johnson achieved remarkable results, primarily among white, poor I might add.

Romney's statements--he's made the same sort of comment many times--is a clear indication of his ignorance of the plight and the aspirations of the poor in America. The notion that poor folks want a permanent safety net is ludicrous to say the least. People want better lives.

BTW--speaking of private sector job creation: did you see the reports for January? Unemployment lowest since Feb 2009, 4 months after the Great Recession. This president is doing his job. Be fair enough to at least recognize that.

rcorum said...

Larry, don't be so fast. I will listen to anything you write or suggest I read. I sometimes get the feeling that you have listened to the right all you are going to so there is no way you will consider new information. The people who run Heritage are not unworthy of a hearing. Larry, what is the chance that you would ever become a conservative? The word "snowball" comes to mind. :) One more question. Did LBJ's War on Poverty do anything to create an atmosphere where marriage was no longer an economic advantage because so much of the help was only for unwed mothers?

Are you ready to pat Obama on the back when we add trillions in debt, and when you include the vast number of people who have simply quit looking for work ? He doesn't pan out to be the job creator you suggest. You mentioned "world view." I think when people have different world views it becomes difficult to come to a consensus on very many things. Thanks for letting me express myself. I couldn't disagree with you more, but my respect for you still runs deep.

Anonymous said...

RC:

The R's caused at least as much of the deficit as Obama and the D's. They adamantly refuse to raise revenue at a time of reduced federal income because of the recession - a recession which preceded Obama by many months. And Bush and the R's had been spending recklessly for the last several years before that.

Obama did not cause this mess; he inherited it. And there is near unanimous agreement among economists and moderate commentators that he and Bush did what had to be done by spending huge sums of money at the beginning or this would have been a depression. So (1) he didn't start it; and (2) he has done what was necessary. So exactly how is Obama "ruining" this country? That sounds like pretty extreme rhetoric of the kind you do not usually engage in.

Anonymous said...

BTW, RC:

I saw all of Romney's comments, hoping the statement was taken out of context. It really wasn't. His statement equating rich and poor as basically "both okay" was crass and heartless.