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Mitt Romney, by his own admission, doesn’t really care about America’s poor. At least, that’s one of the big campaign stories making the rounds following the handsome .01-percenter’s win in Florida on Tuesday. But is it true? Let’s take a closer look.
On CNN yesterday, Romney said the following: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
Romney thinks America’s poor don’t deserve his concern due to our federal safety net. Unfortunately for the nation’s neediest citizens, his proposals seem aimed at unraveling that net. According to a Tax Policy Center analysis, for instance, the wealthy would be the overwhelming beneficiaries of his tax plan — with the lower classes picking up a larger share of the tab — due to a proposed reduction in the corporate rate, elimination of the capital gains rate and a repeal of the estate tax, among other regressive ideas. When tax incomes then drop, politicians are going to look for ways to make up the difference from this social net — programs like Social Security and Medicaid. Romney has also endorsed the Paul Ryan budget proposal, which cuts some $3 trillion from such low-income programs.
Recently released fundraising data also incline one toward skepticism over Romney’s claim that he’s not out to help the rich. Considering that his super PAC received $17,947,952.77 from a scant 181 contributors, one can see that the very wealthy make up Romney’s donor base — the implication being that
Romney will likely seek to repay this generosity by helping to enrich them even further.
Moving on, let’s parse Romney’s claim that he’s concerned about the 90-plus percent of struggling Americans, what he would presumably think of as the middle class. (Here we see how, despite claims to the contrary, the Occupy movement has impacted mainstream debate.) According to various estimates, this crucial segment of the American population may actually comprise between 25 percent to 66 percent of households. Assuming a very conservative estimate of 66 percent, with the rich making up the so-called 1 percent, that leaves a third of Americans who can write off any specific Romney concern — 33 percent of the country apparently subsisting on a social net that the presumptive Republican nominee will surely attempt to dismantle while presumably attacking the left over “class warfare.” Classy.
See, as Romney himself is countering, context does indeed matter. But then, with Gingrich campaigning against Obama the “food stamp president,” the context in this contest is not exactly heartening.
Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik