Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor”

Mitt Romney’s often distant relationship with consensus reality has drawn criticism in this space, and no doubt will again. But it’s important to give credit when due, even to opponents, and when the Governor “says the thing that is” he deserves to be acknowledged for it: all the more since truth-telling seems to be difficult for him.

Of course, his veracity in this case is merely subjective. He correctly reports his own lack of concern about the poor. His optimistic view about the “safety net” is somewhat detached from reality, and of course his support of the Ryan budget would mean utterly shredding that safety net. Still, even subjective honesty represents progress compared to Romney’s usual pathological lying.

Update Naturally, Romney is whining about being taken out of context, but this isn’t the first time he’s said it, nor was this his most direct statement of indifference. In an October debate, Romney said, “The very poor have a safety net, they’re taken care of.” Even today, he’s saying, “We have a safety net for the poor, and if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that. And if there are people that are falling through the cracks I want to fix that.”

“If”? Doesn’t he know? Or care enough to find out?

Just to add to Romney’s out-of-touchness: He seems to think that Medicaid, which pays for nursing-home care that would otherwise be breaking the backs of lots of middle-class families, is somehow only for “the very poor.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

14 thoughts on “Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor””

  1. Yes, this can go down with those other splendid Willardisms which, parsed correctly, aren’t really all that bad (though requiring a good deal of very un-Republican nuance), but on their face, make him sound even more clueless and out-of-touch than he is:

    “Corporations are people”
    “I like being able to fire people”
    “I’m not concerned about the very poor”

    Maybe he should hire Yogi Berra as his speechwriter: we’d still get the malapropisms, but at least they’d be amusing!

    1. “(though requiring a good deal of very un-Republican nuance),”

      Not cutting off the quote in mid-sentence is un-Republican nuance? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure Obama has said some stuff that sounds awfully bad if you leave out words…

      But, yeah, he shouldn’t be tossing the opposition these softballs. Wonder if he could have actually won in Florida without outspending Newt 65-1? Although if he can out-spend Obama 65-1, he might be able to single handedly end the recession. 😉

  2. One weird thing about Republican presidential candidates: they are not good liars. They’re full of tells. Dubya was probably the worst at this: he got all squinchy when he lied. (If you think he was squinchy all the time, there’s a reason for this.) Romney isn’t very good either; McCain was fair.

    Oddly enough, the Democrats, who lie far less often, are much better at it. “I did not have sex with that woman”–you could only tell he was lying because Clinton was denying an alleged extramarital affair with somebody not named P’Lod. “My health care plan does not have a mandate”–you could only tell Obama was lying because you know that he is a very bright guy with very good advisors.

  3. I’m one of those people who thought Romney was not horrible for a Republican. But the more I hear from him the worse he looks. I know he has to say a lot of incredibly stupid stuff to have a chance at the Republican nomination, but does he have to say so much god-awfully stupid stuff? Can anyone really be that horrible and out of touch? Did the man ever have a soul?

      1. I’ve worked with them. I’d say that you’re right for the more MBA-ish of this tribe. But there are a lot of JDs who picked up the MBA in a misguided fit of open options.

  4. In the man’s defense, he’s telling the truth about what he finds most important: himself.

  5. Mitt’s category of “very poor” excludes on his own say-so the unemployed and retirees dependent on Social Security, so I suggest it’s a dog-whistle for “black welfare queens.”
    Note the implication that if you are living on Uncle Sam’s munificent benefits you aren’t struggling to make ends meet.

    1. This will not hurt Romney in any way with the Republican base, who also don’t care about the very poor. It will, in fact, clearly help him in two ways:

      1) It will “piss off the liberals”, which is always something the conservative base loves and, 2) never forget he is running for the nomination of a party whose most beloved figure ran against “young bucks buying steaks with food stamps” and “welfare queens driving Cadillacs”.

  6. This is the updated version of “uninsured people have access to medical care because they can always go to the ER.” Or perhaps of the WSJ’s infamous “lucky duckies” who pay no federal income tax.

  7. I think this has been handled incorrectly. Taking what he said out of context was not fair. I don’t like what the guy represents, and I’m not defending him. But, a better response to what he said would have been something like,”OK, Governor Romney. You say that if the safety needs fixed, that you would repair it. What specifically would you do to fix the many holes in our frayed safety net? And, being a Republican, how would you avoid being driven from the party after proposing fixing the holes in the safety net? It is beyond question, Governor, that your party, the Republicans, are committed to dismantling as much of the social safety net as they can. One example is the Ryan budget proposal.”
    Or, like this, “If you want to repair the social safety net, Governor Romney, then why are you running as a Republican? The Republican party stands for the destruction of the safety net.”

  8. I don’t know. I do think he’s been taken out of context. But the strange thing is, the context merely conceals the lie that Republicans do care about the poor. I mean, oh they care, just like Christians care that I’m going to burn in Hell. It’s a mighty high fence they like to sit on and look pretty.

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