Regular readers of this blog (both of them) know that it’s all about coming to the defense of the underdog—in this case, the guy running for president who comes out and says he’s “not concerned about the very poor”: Mitt Romney.
Mitt has good reasons not to be concerned! First of all the “very poor” don’t vote. That may be because they can’t afford gas to their polling place, or they’re incarcerated for stealing bread or, as sick and elderly poor, they no longer leave their hovels; or they could just be too busy playing Angry Birds on their iPads, but that seems unlikely.
Let’s take a look at the reason for Mitt’s giddy optimism about the non-plight of the extremely poverty stricken: those “safety nets” that are doing such a swell job for the very poor thrashing in them like indigent mackerels:
- Unemployment Benefits helped keep more than 3 million Americans above the poverty line in 2010! But the GOP both filibustered and voted against extending benefits in 2010, and again refused to pass them in 2011 before being convinced to by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who threatened to cry in public again.
- Social Security has helped keep more than 20 million seniors and disabled Americans out of poverty! But since some Social Security recipients might not die without the average Social Security benefit of just over $1,000 a month, the GOP proposes to “means test” beneficiaries, just like they do with tax breaks. Wait, no they don’t. Disregard.
- Medicaid covers nearly 60 million low income Americans, nearly half of them children! The GOP would also like to see this means tested, or at least “block-granted,” which is complicated but just assume it’s like “cock-blocking,” something else assholes do.
- The Affordable Health Care Act has already helped insure millions of Americans and saved billions on Medicare! But as guardians of the most crucial issue of this election year—protecting Americans’ right to remain uninsured—Romney and the other candidates have promised to repeal “Obamacare” their first day in office, even before jumping up and down in the Lincoln bedroom.
The other tenuous strands in the safety net—Welfare, food stamps, federal subsidies for home heating, funding for health clinics and after school programs—are also targets for elimination, privatization or defunding according to the splintery planks of the GOP platform. After which Romney, presumably, will be “concerned.” Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has come out against safety nets altogether, saying he’d like to see them “replaced with trampolines”—a perfect metaphor for poverty, because just when the very poor think they might be moving up, they’re back down again.
Here’s the thing about the very poor: they’ve been very poor for generations. For the vast majority of Americans, being born into poverty means staying there; it’s passed, father to son and down again, like a genetic disorder…or the same way the wealthy pass along family jewels, but much less shiny. They probably didn’t lose their jobs under Obama’s lackluster leadership because, since they’re mostly elderly, disabled, or without skills, they haven’t had a job since 1979. Their savings haven’t vanished because they’re not invested in the stock market. Also, they have no savings. Their cars haven’t been repossessed because they’re up on blocks, and their mortgages aren’t “underwater” because they couldn’t afford a mortgage in the first place. Or water. Rising food prices just means they eat less, and let’s face it, they can stand to lose a few pounds; but at least soaring utility bills aren’t a problem because they’re stealing electricity from the streetlamp where Uncle Fred electrocuted himself.
In other words, it makes perfect sense for Mitt not to be concerned with these people because he can’t scare them into voting for him. They care less about who’s elected president every four years than the rest of us do about Olympic luging. Because they know that no matter who’s in the White House, they are serially and generationally fucked.