Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor” Really?

Yesterday morning in a CNN interview Mitt Romney stated, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” To quote him precisely, the CNN story reads in part: “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” he said. “We have a safety net there. If it 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% of Americans right now who are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

His comments need a little analysis. It annoys me enough that I am going to add my two cents not that I very often discuss politics per se on this blog. When a presidential candidate talks about a group – the very poor – and says what he says, people should speak up.

In the same interview, if not to add insult to injury, candidate Romney added that we have a “very ample safety net”, food stamps, and housing vouchers. Later, on his campaign plane while speaking – some call it damage control – to reporters he said that “we can talk about whether it (the safety net) needs to be strengthened or if there are holes in it.”

Someone needs to tell this candidate a few things. 1) The safety net needs mending. 2) The food stamp program is now known as SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 3) Yes, there are housing vouchers but there aren’t enough even to house all our homeless veterans. Mr. Romney, ask a family that has been on a waiting list with their local Housing Authority or Section 8 agency about how long it takes to get a housing voucher.

Last September the Census Bureau released a poverty report in which they reported 46 million people living in poverty in 2010. The number was the largest in the 52 year history of the poverty surveys.

We need candidates who will face the fact that we have income inequality in American. It is not a question if we need to fix the safety net. It’s a question of how we can rebuild and make everyone stronger. We can no longer tolerate a 281% increase in income among the top 1% while the bottom fifth’s income rises only 16% in the last 30 plus years. (Source: Congressional Budget Office. See www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12485 for additional proof.

Please wake up Mr. Romney.

Legal Services To Release Poverty Benchmarks Report – March 22, 2011

Date: Tuesday March 22, 2011
Time: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Place: New Jersey State Museum Auditorium, 205 W. State St, Trenton, NJ

Legal Services of New Jersey invites you to the public release of Poverty Benchmarks 2011: Assessing New Jersey’s Progress in Combating Poverty —the fifth annual report in the Poverty Benchmarks series prepared by LSNJ’s Poverty Research Institute.

Attendees will hear about recent trends revealed by data related to poverty and income inadequacy in New Jersey, as well as implications for state action to address existing and anticipated challenges. The release will feature presentation of report highlights, followed by panel discussions and Q&A. More details about the event, including directions and parking information, will be sent next week. Feel free to share the attached Poverty Benchmarks 2011 flyer with other interested parties.

The Poverty Benchmarks Project is an on-going data collection effort that aims to increase understanding of poverty in New Jersey as a foundation for more effective public response to the reality of poverty and its consequences. This report is the fifth in the annual series and updates key poverty trends and attendant policy implications.

Please RSVP by e-mail: PRI@lsnj.org. For more information contact Zane Kratzer (x8502) or Shivi Prasad (x8218) at (732) 572-9100.

Source: recent email from LSNJ

P.S. LSNJ has since released online Poverty Benchmarks 2011: Assessing New Jersey’s Progress in Combating Poverty. Those interested in reading some of the 172 page report can view it online at http://www.lsnj.org/PDFs/budget/Benchmarks2011.pdf .