[h/t Heather at Videocafe]
Mitt Romney's appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday night was generally awful. Between making the asinine claim that emergency rooms provide adequate health care for the uninsured to his assertion that he could drop tax rates by 20 percent without causing harm to anyone, he just proves over and over that he's not up to the task of campaigning, much less governing.
But this little segment is as cynical and as absurd as his claim about emergency rooms. When asked specifically how he would "shrink government," his answer is that he will turn certain programs over to the states where the costs will not grow beyond the inflation rate. Here's the snippet, beginning at about one minute in:
Pelley: You would move some government programs to the states. What would they be?
Romney: Well, for instance, Medicaid is a program that’s designed to help the poor. Likewise we have housing vouchers and food stamps and these help the poor. I’d take the dollars for those programs, send them back to the states and say “You craft your programs at the state level and the way you think best to deal with those that need that kind of help in your state.”
Pelley: So how does moving those programs to the states bring relief to the taxpayer?
Romney: Because I’d grow them only at the rate of inflation or in the case of Medicaid, at inflation plus one percent. That’s a lower rate of growth than we’ve seen over the past several years, a lower rate of growth than has been forecast under federal management. And I believe on that basis you’re going to see us save about $100 billion dollars a year.
Pelley: So you’re going to cap the growth on those social welfare programs.
Romney: Exactly right.
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POOF! The magic shrinking safety net will magically shrink because...states? Ladies and gentlemen, what you have seen here is some right wing magical thinking, wrapped up in a smug face telling us all we're victims and nails ladies who simply don't understand.
Here's what Romney is really saying. He would block grant Medicaid, SNAP and housing assistance dollars to the states who could then use those dollars to lower STATE taxes while providing nothing for poor people if they chose not to. The states who actually used those federal dollars to assist the poor would be limited to the inflation rate in terms of increases even if the national economy blew out again, and also would not take into account states with disasters that impact their own economic picture.
Another way of saying what he said is that too many people are dependent on the government and consider themselves victims, so he wants to craft policy to confirm that they are, in fact, victims. Never mind what the actual situation on the ground is for people. As long as the problem is a state problem, it's not Mitt's problem. And states are under no obligation to provide uniform benefits because there would be no federal requirement that they meet certain minimum standards.
Víva la John Galt!
A couple of other thoughts occurred to me as I watched this piece over again. First, Mitt Romney is the king of taking small businesses which typically have higher costs because they're small, stripping their assets and then merging them with other businesses until they're big! So it's just a tiny bit incongruous to hear him talking about "the inefficiency that’s always part of a large institution like our government."
The king of large institutions is bashing large institutions? Multinational corporations that rake in lots of profit are large institutions. Romney built those, and they're so efficient he makes a ton of money on them at the expense of their employees' long term financial health. Does anyone hear that dissonance playing as loudly as I do?
Also, I can't get over the smirk in this interview. He smirks just like George Bush did. Is that something Republican handlers teach their candidates? It's obnoxious and unnecessary.
Mostly though, the idea of Mitt Romney taking food out of the mouths of hungry kids on school lunch programs, or housing assistance away from veterans, or leaving people with no options for long-term care for their elderly loved ones is so incredibly evil and cynical it should be called what it is: Selfish greed.