Romney isn’t worried about the poor. It’s a gaff, yes, but there’s some real substance here. He says he’s not worried about them because they have a safety net, but his economic policy would decimate that safety net. He wants to reduce spending, and he’s focused his reductions almost entirely on social spending. His plan calls for reducing taxes, increasing defense spending, and cutting everything else. Well, everything else is mostly social services. He also says he’ll fix any problems in the safety net. That seems to imply that he doesn’t believe there are any, or at least that he isn’t aware of them if there are. But if the purpose of the safety net is to give people a way out of poverty, we have one of the least effective safety nets in the first world even before his cuts.
And he’s not worried about the rich, despite the fact that his policies target them for huge tax cuts. But if Romney isn’t worried about the rich, why is he giving all of the money he’s cutting out of the social safety net to them? Romney’s call for deep cuts to social services aren’t going to be used to pay down the debt, they’re going to be used to cut taxes. The word redistribution gets used a lot to criticize taxes, but I think it fits clearly here. Romney’s budget plan would literally take money out of social services and give it to the rich as tax breaks.
The people Romney says he’s worried about are the middle class. He wants to focus his efforts on rebuilding and strengthening it, or making sure more people reach middle class and stay there. But how is he going to do that? His budget offers no real clues there. As far as I can tell, he’s leaning heavily on the trickle down effects of his tax cuts to not only counter the effect of his social services cuts, but also do the hard work of strengthening the middle class. I’ve talked in part about why that is particularly wrong now. Besides that though, trickle down economics have been employed heavily by America in the past two decades, and we’ve seen the exact opposite effect. Arguments can be made that they were overwhelmed by other factors, but those arguments do nothing to suggest that this time will be different. Quite the contrary, we have every reason to believe they will fail again.