Friday, February 3, 2012

America's Pampered Poor: Why Should MItt Care?

I'd like to explore a term today, just a couple of words which have been bandied about the past couple of days:

Safety net.

On Tuesday evening, basking in his winner-take-all victory at the Florida presidential primary, Governor Mitt Romney informed CNN that his campaign had chosen to focus on America's middle class.

Okay, so far so good.

Then the lug nuts loosened. "I'm not concerned about the very poor," Romney quipped, "because there's a safety net in place for them." he also downplayed his campaign's emphasis on the very rich, citing, again, a safety net which buffers them as well.

The former Massachusetts governor later retracted the comments, stating that he "misspoke."

I'm not really sure what misspeaking is; maybe you can fill me in, Mittens.

Was it a profound misfiring of brain synapses which caused you to mispronounce each of the seven words, "I'm not concerned about the very poor" together? Were you actually trying to say "My yachts can burn without the hairy four?"

Oh, okay. Sorry, man. You were attempting to speak of the four bearded captains of the Romney luxury boat fleet, who bravely protect your seagoing vessels from left wing arsonists. Now I understand.

When you're forced to talk incessantly for months on end, it makes sense that your power of enunciation might suffer. My bad.

Seriously, you don't get a free pass on this one Romney. You may have retracted your statement due to overwhelming public outcry, but it doesn't mean you wouldn't pursue this very philosophy should you be elected commander-in-chief.

Let me get this straight—both extremely rich and extremely poor people have safety nets, but not the middle class.

Naturally, the highly wealthy own a safety net. It's constructed of dead presidents. If the aristocrat loses his grip on the trapeze handle, hundreds of men named Benjamin stand below to catch the falling blueblood and pat him on the tookus as he runs back up the ladder.

I'm not sure any other safety nets need to occupy that big top.

But how about the very poor—to what do these folks have access that my other middle class homies and I don't?

They may qualify for food stamps, but only if they possess less than $2000 in total assets. In 2010, the average American food stamp recipient received $133 per month, or $4.33 per day. Wow. Time to pass the Grey freaking Poupon with that kind of mad paper.

They may be entitled to welfare. Over one-third of our states have an income limit of less than fifty percent of the federal poverty level to qualify. That means a family of four can receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) only if household income is less than $11,175.

Talk about pampered.

Oh, I almost forgot the healthcare safety net—the foremost coups de gras for the poor. Not only do these spoiled serfs enjoy medical attention provided by our nation's overburdened emergency rooms, often free of charge, they also enjoy the benefit of marathon waits and aerobic exercise to return to the shelters after the buses have stopped running for the night.

I can see what Mitt's talking about now, because the list just keeps going.

Let's not forget the critical and often free access to breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, made possible largely by grants through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. What an indulgence.

But since Romney isn't focused on the poverty-stricken women who depend on Planned Parenthood, I'm sure he slept soundly last night...

In his narrow view, those safety nets are self-mending.

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