If your summer home resembles the Sikh Golden Temple, and (in fact) you’re worth between $150 million and $200 million, and you’re running for president, it’s generally not a good idea to say: “I’m not concerned with the very poor.”
But the morning after his victory in the Florida Republican primary, that’s what almost-certain nominee Mitt Romney did.
OK, as a wishy-washy, trying-to-be-fair liberal Democrat– the kind who brings a knife to a gunfight– I’ll quote Romney in full context.
I’m not concerned with 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 the America. [..]
The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor. And there’s no question it’s not good being poor. And we have a safety net to help those that are very poor, but campaign is focused is on middle-income Americans. My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich, that’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus.
Romney added, “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.”
I suppose that makes Romney seem less heartless, but it certainly doesn’t make him seem in touch with realities outside his financial bubble. Of course he can speak from first-hand experience when he says the very rich are doing just fine– I’ll gladly take his word for that. But how exactly does he know that the safety net for the poor is “very ample”? In fact under his budget proposals, it would become substantially less ample.