23 thoughts on ““I’m Not Concerned About the Poor.”

  1. Erik says:

    Yes, well… I suspect President Romney will be able to convince most people that his context wasn’t actually so stark… because the fact of the matter is his context wasn’t actually so stark. The man is not a social Darwinism conservative.

    1. Ellen Mrja says:

      I’ll give you that, Erik. His full quote was:
      “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; they’re doing just fine.”
      The problem is one of perception, isn’t it? The fact is 15% of Americans are now categorized as “poor.” How can they feel this candidate cares for their plight with a statement such as this?
      Or the statement to the unemployed last summer: “I’ve been given a pink slip, too. I’m also looking for a position.”
      Or, telling reporters that yes, he did make some money last year from speaker’s fees; but it wasn’t very much.

  2. PM says:

    I think that poor former Governor Mitt (as he will be known both now and in the future) has a significant perception problem–basically, he is not like any of the rest of us.

    How have the GOP managed to nominate the most Kerry-esque of all the possible candidates available to them?

    1. Erik says:

      Mittens is not the optimal character to articulate the genuine populism that exists among conservatism, but he’s nowhere near the execrable gasbag that John Kerry is. Mittens is an earnest, authentic personality as far as that goes.

  3. Ellen Mrja says:

    “…but he’s nowhere near the execrable gasbag that Newt Gingrich is” was where I honest-to-God thought you were headed with that sentence, Erik. Gingrich is so unlikable and I’m going to give you one silly but revealing anecdote as an example.
    About two weeks ago, a reporter asked Newt what his favorite animal was. Now everybody knows a candidate for public office is supposed to answer “a dog..because of his loyalty, dependability, love for family and service to America.”
    But what does Newt answer..without skipping a beat? “An elephant. Because an elephant has 1,624 (whatever the figure he said) in its trunk.”
    What kind of an answer is that? He said it with a know-it-all tone in his voice, just like the little fat kid on The Simpsons that is a perfect know-it-all and thus get wedgies at every turn.
    My theory is that Romney is, indeed, an earnest husband and father and tither. We can differ on whether or not he’s authentic. He’s more likable than Newt. But Romney is not – and never has been – likable enough for people to fall in love with him, which, unfortunately is a quotient in today’s presidential political process. See the Wall Street Journal 1-26 issue; excellent analysis of this.

    1. john sherman says:

      Frank Rich has a piece in New York magazine (1/29) arguing that Romney has a very closed off personality and even former co-workers don’t have much sense of who he is.

      1. Erik says:

        Someone doesn’t know who he is? Really?

        His Mormonism is a bit at odds with the archetype, but he’s nonetheless an old school northeastern WASP with a typical sense of noblesse oblige. He’s motivated by family legacy. He’s devout. He’s 65 years old. He’s a square. Thus he’s a bit reserved and awkward but this is not inauthentic. He’s a lot like George H.W. Bush.

        This all may not be ‘likable’, but it’s certainly not dislikable. And it is in fact fairly comforting and reassuring to many. Within that sort of context, “I’m not concerned about the poor” or other garbled messages will have no effect.

        In the Pauline Kael world you folks all inhabit I know you don’t understand this, but President Obama is fairly gaffetastic himself. The ‘bitter clingers’ comment was is fairly analogous to this.

  4. Mike Kennedy says:

    I’m interested in the comment about the real poverty rate being too low. Well, how would you define poverty and please show your evidence that 15 percent is “grossly underestimating” the real poor. Do you also maintain the real unemployment rate is grossly low at 8.3 percent if you factor in all those who have given up looking? Just curious?

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    Well that’s akin to saying the real unemployment rate is really double the official rate…depends on the definition. If we add in government support programs and what the poor own in terms of TVs, cell phones, autos etc. And the fact that almost all have food, those numbers look a whole lot less scary.

  6. Ellen says:

    Are you kidding, Mike? Assuming you’re not, here’s the lede from the story above:


    WASHINGTON – Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

    The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

    “Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

    “The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

  7. Mike Kennedy says:

    No, I’m not kidding, actually. Yes, wages have stagnated and health care costs are a problem but the notion that even millions are on the streets without food or places to live is a complete joke. Yes people are living paycheck to paycheck and are in debt but the fact they are living in poverty by any meaningful definition of the word is again mind blowing.

  8. Ellen says:

    I couldn’t get in; not a subscriber. But I get the print version at work. Thanks. I’ll see if it’s in there.

  9. Jeremy Powers says:

    MIke, what do you consider poverty? Do you think that if someone has a ratty place to sleep and cook their own meals with food stamp food they aren’t poor?

    More accurate estimates show both the working poor and the non-working poor (non-working for whatever reason, retired, incapable of doing a job, lazy) at about 17.5 percent of the population.The US has the highest rate of poverty of any developed country. Ireland is the next closest with about 15 percent. Those goddamn socialist countries in Europe like Denmark and Norway are about 5 percent. Most of that poverty is immiigrant poverty.

    About 45 million households on food stamps. That’s essentially where the “poverty” number of 15 percent comes from (45 million divided by 312 million). But that doesn’t even begin on the really, really poor. The really, really poor don’t have permanent addresses or places to live to even qualify for food stamps. So on top of the 45 million people thare are probably 2 million who are hopelessly homeless.
    There are 20 million kids on free or reduced lunch programs and the rate is going up, even though there really aren’t a lot more resources to pay for it. Most, but not all, of those kids would be included in numbers above.

    I like to look at real numbers instead of percentages. 45 million people – about the population of the whole state of New York receive food stamps. It is absolutely shameful.

    Love the sign I saw:
    “I’m not concerned about the very poor” – Mitt Romney

    “I am” – Jesus Christ

  10. Jeremy:

    Take a look at the WSJ article I posted. Food stamps is a program for which even many in the middle lower class qualify. This is hardly poverty, again, by any meaningful definition. According to the survey published in the Journal about 95 percent of those considered “poor” said neither they nor their kids went hungry.

    Your comparison to Europe, while valid, understates that fact that much of Europe is beyond broke…the same direction we are headed, rapidly. The number 2 million homeless is as unsubstantiated and as fictional as the 3 to 5 million homeless cited under Reagan, which was about as bogus as numbers get.

  11. Jeremy Powers says:

    You realize that the Wall Street Journal is now a Fox publication. What little credibility it had with me disappeared the second Rupert Murdoch bought it. And just like Fox news, if you are getting your information from the Fox Street Journal, you’d be better off if you were completely uninformed.

    The author of that piece has written for several kind of libertarian websites, like the Wisconsin Free Market Think Tank, about how bad public schools are, yada yada. He’s the perfect reporter for the Fox Street Journal – former moderate to liberal who now believes in the evils of a nanny state and the wonders of the free market. Pick your sources better.

    Plus, I never said they were “starving.” I said they were poor and on food stamps. Do people have to look like they came out of a concentration camp before we need to be concerned about them?

    The problems aren’t really all of Europe. The problem is the connection via the Euro with Greece and some of the other second-rate economies that are tied into it. In the long run, now that European universities are lower cost than American ones, I suspect Europe will do just fine. The key to our success since World War II was low-cost college, which made all those entrepreneurs that everyone is so excited about.

    How can you substantiate and unsubstantiatable figure. No one knows how many homeless there are. They aren’t registered somewhere. They don’t get a “homeless license,” which means they probably won’t be able to vote in Minnesota in 2014. HUD determined that there were 650,000 homeless that they knew of in 2009. An additional 1.5 million used some sort of shelter at least once. And those numbers don’t include people who make no effort or have no need for a shelter. Best guess is the one to two million, or doesn’t that sound “truthiness” enough for you.

  12. Mike Kennedy says:

    Oh Jesus Jeremy, come out of your liberal slumber. You cite all your liberal sources like the NYT and you call into question the Journal…talk about picking sources. Your qualifier of “probably” 2 million homeless…probably? Really. Now that’s factual. What kind of sourcing is that? You are wrong on Europe. Who do you think are going to bail out the sick parts of Europe? Yep. The healthy economies. European universities are cheap relative to us. But I believe 50 of the top 100 universities are….here. Regarding your homeless estimates, they are usually made by advocacy groups that, well, tend to overstate he problem to get more funds. No, homeless people are not registered but one of the great journalistic scams of the 1980s was the wild overstating of the homeless, led by one Mitch Snyder.

  13. Mike Kennedy says:


    Mr Kozak, who wrote the piece in the Journal, was a reporter for NPR, New York Sun and ABC News. Not mainstream enough for you?

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