Mitt Romney's 'Very Poor' Comment Should Come as No Surprise

That the GOP frontrunner isn't concerned about the poor is hardly news.

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When I heard Mitt Romney say, "I'm not concerned about the very poor," my first thought was that I hoped newspapers hadn't stopped the presses for this bit of so called news. Romney's disregard for the poor has as little news value as baseball guru Peter Gammons saying that the New York Mets won't win the World Series this year. Now if Romney said that he doesn't care about bankers and billionaires, that would be news.

Then I thought of Michael Kinsley's famous aphorism that a scandal in Washington is when someone accidentally speaks the truth. Did anybody who watched the recent GOP debates really think Mitt or any of the other presidential candidates cared about the poor? I didn't.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The question of whether he actually said it never crossed my mind. Anytime Mitt talks about economic issues, he puts his well heeled foot in his mouth. I predict that his next misstep will be to say, "Warren Buffett's secretary should pay more taxes than her boss."

To be fair to Mitt, we should put his words in context. He said "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it." The problem is that Mitt and the GOP want to rip the safety net wide open, not fix it. He wants to balance the budget on the backs of the poor rather make bankers, billionaires, hedge fund managers, and corporate jet setters pay their fair share of taxes. Mitt's BFFs in the House GOP caucus want to kill Medicare for Americans under 55 and cut Medicaid spending for the poor. There will be less safety net and a lot more poverty if Mitt gets to the White House. Then he won't have to worry about anyone.

[Read Ford O'Connell:  Mitt Romney's 'Very Poor,' Self-Inflicted Wound]

But we really should cut Mitt some slack. He fits the late Ann Richards' description of a member of another GOP dynasty, George H. W. Bush. She said he was born on third and thought he hit a triple. I still don't know why anybody would expect that Romney would care about the very poor. Someone once said, "I don't want to be a rich man in a poor country." Mitt Romney wasn't the person who said it.

  • Read the U.S. News debate: Can Anything Stop Mitt Romney?
  • See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.