Today on CNN, Soledad O’Brien interviewed Mitt Romney and unless you slept through the day you know how the interview went. For those who haven’t heard the entire exchange, here it is:
“Romney says, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
O’Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, “There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.'”
Romney continues, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor…. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus…. The middle income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.”
Romney isn’t sounding much like a ‘compassionate conservative’ and I don’t think you’d confuse him with George W. Bush with that exchange.
To summarize his comments in the CNN interview – If elected, Romney will focus his resources to target growth areas that will benefit the vast majority of Americans (Middle Class). The Rich can take care of themselves and we already have programs in place to help the very poor (Welfare, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, etc.) so Romney would help the one demographic group that has been left out – the Middle Class.
There is plenty to hammer Romney on but talking about reviving the US economy is straight, no-compromising language is not one of them. Did he use a poor choice of phrasing that provides catchy, out-of-context sound bites for the MSM and Obama? Yes. Was his message correct from a conservative viewpoint? Yes.
If anybody but Romney had made these statements 2 years ago at a Tea Party rally the crowd would’ve erupted in thunderous applause and pretty soon “not concerned about the very poor” would’ve been trending on Twitter because so many conservatives would be cheering about it. Conservatives would’ve cheered because the message delivered by Romney today gets to the heart of the difference between our World View and that of Liberals.
A Liberal sees the poor contrasted with the wealthy and wants to further enslave the poor by offering more handouts and ‘punish’ the wealthy by increasing their taxes. I’ve shown how increasing Welfare spending increases the Poverty rate and I’ve explored the Liberal Group Think topic which explains why Liberals seem to be averse to taking the economically necessary, but painful, steps to ensure long term stability. Even President Obama’s chief economic advisor wrote a paper showing how extending Unemployment Insurance benefits keeps the Unemployment Rate high for a longer period of time.
Conservatives see the poor and wish to bring them up without knocking the successful down. We know that if we remove the barriers for the middle class then more of them will move from middle class to wealthy, start business, increase consumption and grow the economy (which will lower the poverty rate and improve the lives of the poor). Knocking the wealthy down will not help the poor in any way (short or long term) and there is just no way a Liberal can justify that policy.
James Pethokoukis had an excellent post today explaining, in economic terms, why Romney was exactly right and used the evidence from a paper written by Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan. Below is a portion of the Pethokoukis post and the emphasis was the author’s:
“The focus of Mitt Romney’s campaign is boosting economic growth after a terrible recession and awful recovery. And this is exactly the right emphasis, not more “anti-poverty” programs. Meyer and Sullivan looked at why the material well-being of the poor has improved so much during the past three decades.
First, here is what helped only a small amount: noncash transfers such as food stamps or housing and school lunch subsidies.
Here is what helped a lot more: “The impact of taxes is particularly noticeable for the poor, a substantial share of whom have been lifted out of poverty by more generous tax credits.”
And this is probably most important: “Together, this evidence suggests that other factors, perhaps most importantly economic growth, played a critical role in the improved living standards of the middle class and the poor.”
That’s right, economic growth. Take care about the economy and everyone will benefit, even the poor and very poor.”
So we should’ve seen Conservatives coming out of the woodwork to defend Romney against the inevitable arrows from the Left. But we didn’t. Because in today’s super charged, “If-You-Don’t-Vote-For-My-Candidate-All-Hope-Is-Lost” mentality of my conservative brothers and sisters there were more arrows shot at Romney from the Right than from the Left. How did we get to the point where we are now ‘vetting’ Republican candidates using the traditional criteria of the Left? Capitalism, wealth, financial success, removing barriers to those who are trying to create wealth and providing incentives for the poor to leave poverty are now taboo topics with some Republican candidates and their supporters.
I hope this doesn’t come back to bite us in November.