Mitt Romney told Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday that he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” The video is below.
Damn Mitt, you are just a nightmare for your communications team, aren’t you? When you aren’t completely scripted you have no sense of how to talk. The proper message is “the Middle Class is the key to the economy and improving the economic conditions facing them will ignite this economy and help all Americans.” The proper message is not, “I’m not concerned about the very poor” and a diatribe about the importance of food stamps and Medicaid — Newt should seize on this and attack Mitt as the next Food Stamps President.
The most telling aspect of this unscripted moment is that Romney sees the social safety net as part of a permanent underclass rather than temporary assistance. Mitt’s words suggest that he feels the safety net exists for a static population of “poor” and that we don’t need to worry about creating opportunity for advancement but rather, keeping a sustainable system of table scraps. There was a day when the GOP attacked the social safety net for creating a permanent underclass addicted to benefits. That was an unfair portrayal of the system aimed at dismantling it, but Romney’s comments reveal that he believes in keeping the safety net for the express purpose of keeping the poor barely above subsistence. Providing opportunity for the poor is not part of his plans.
After racking my brain I couldn’t think of a more eloquent response to a man with a fighting chance of becoming the President of the United States can say something like this than to remind all of us that America wasn’t always like this. Turning it over to another 1% politician…
I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.
It is not in despair that I paint you that picture. I paint it for you in hope—because the Nation, seeing and understanding the injustice in it, proposes to paint it out. We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
— President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 2nd Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937