Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hey Gov. Romney, the poor are Americans too!

Looking to erase the stigma of Romney-care, former Gov. Mitt ("Honey Badger") Romney unveiled a new social agenda--Romney-don't-care.

Gov. Romney: I'm in this race because I care about Americans.

With you so far Governor. It would be better to care with all of humanity, but voters will understand that you can only do so much and that someone whose heart is already two-sizes too small has to start somewhere.

Romney: I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If that 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 America. The 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling, and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

The poor aren't Americans? They're not included in "the very heart of America?" Governor Romney, who has previously criticized liberals, the Occupy movement, and his Republican rivals for sowing class warfare, has effectively disinherited the poor from America.

With respect to the Governor's 90-95 percent figure, he might be surprised (if he cared) to discover that 46.2 million Americans, 15.1 percent of our population, were officially poor in 2010. One third of Americans--more than 100 million people--lived in households with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line and were considered poor or near poor.  6.7 percent of American were in deep poverty, meaning that they were living in households with incomes that were less than half of the poverty threshold. Those are sizable groups that Governor Romney is tagging as un-American and unworthy of his concern.

Also,  the very poor would take issue with whether we have anything near a safety net. All of the poverty figures account for cash transfers, like welfare and social security. So, that's a 15.1 percent poverty rate after those safety net checks have gone out. An alternative poverty measure that accounts for in-kind transfers, like food, medical, housing, and energy assistance, but that also accounts more accurately for households' needs, indicates that 16 percent of Americans are poor. A safety net that lets nearly one out of every six people fall through seems moth-eaten and in serious need of repair.

But, at least it's not Americans who are falling through those holes.