He just can't help it. This is what a guy who is concerned with bottom lines thinks. Mitt Romney has no empathy for the very poor because in his mind the scaled-back food stamp, Medicaid and welfare programs will take care of them. No, no. He's concerned with the middle class. Of course he's concerned about the middle class! They're the biggest block of potential voters.
This is how Romney rolls. He is always looking for the bottom line, the way to get from point A to point B, whether or not he steamrolls people along the way. Since the 'very poor' are unlikely to be Romney voters, he's not concerned about them.
It's a classic gaffe on his part, nearly as bad as John McCain's remark that the "fundamentals of the economy are sound" in 2008, made at a time when the fundamentals were very, very badly broken.
Here's what he said:
This is a time people are worried. They're frightened. They want someone who they have confidence in. And I believe I will be able to instill that confidence in the American people. And, by the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.
If I were to stop there, it would make a wonderful ad. But Soledad O'Brien gave him a chance to fix what he just said. Here's the rest:
ROMNEY: I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.
O'BRIEN: All right. So I know I said last question, but I've got to ask you. You just said I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.
O'BRIEN: Got it. OK.
ROMNEY: The - the challenge right now - we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and - 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 my campaign is focused 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.
If Mitt Romney understood how many in the middle class went from being middle class to being poor, and how many working poor went from being working poor to being very poor, he might actually have had concerns. But he doesn't understand these things because he hasn't bothered to understand them. A man born into money and a privileged lifestyle who has lived that way all of his life, even spending a chunk of his career making more money at the expense of the poor and middle class, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's not concerned about those with nothing.
Here are some statistics on those "very poor" Mitt Romney doesn't care about, from a September, 2011 report:
Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be poor, and to be in deep poverty.
- In 2010, 9.9% of non-Hispanic whites lived in poverty and 4.3% in deep poverty; 26.6% of Hispanics lived in poverty and 10.9% in deep poverty; and 27.4% of blacks lived in poverty and 13.5% in deep poverty.
- 12.4% of non-Hispanic white children under 18 lived below poverty; 35% of Hispanic children under 18 lived below poverty; and 39.1% of black children under 18 lived below poverty. Overall, 22% of children under 18 – 16.4 million children - lived below the poverty line.
- Although blacks represent 12.6% of the general population, they represent 27.4% of the poor population. Hispanics, who make up 16.3% of the population, represent 26.6% of the poor population.
Poverty is a women's issue; Female headed families are more likely to be poor
- In 2010, more than 4 million more women than men lived in poverty.
- Families headed by a single adult are more likely to be headed by women, and these female-headed families are at greater risk of poverty and deep poverty. 34.2% of families with a female householder where no husband is present were poor and 17% were living in deep poverty. 17.3% of families with a male householder where no wife was present were poor and 7.9% were living in deep poverty. 7.6% of married couple families with children were living in poverty and 2.4% were indeep poverty.
- Children living in single female-headed families were more than four times as likely to be living in poverty, and seven times as likely to be living in deep poverty, than children living in married couple families
If Mitt Romney had his way, those numbers would rise, not fall, because that's what his policies would do to those people. Remember, he wants to cut the safety net, not fix it. If Mitt Romney had his way, women would have even more babies that would be protected from abortion but not from poverty, want and need once they're born. Black, white or brown? Romney isn't concerned about them.
I doubt he gives them a second thought.