What Poverty Program

All the Republican presidential candidates advocate the same trickle-down policies that produced only 1.08 million jobs during George W. Bush’s presidency. They advocate lower taxes mainly for the wealthy, unregulated markets and less spending. Such policies have not and would not help the poor or the country.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been receiving much criticism for his statement, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” Romney went on to say, “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 the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

One day later, Romney backtracked by saying, “It was a misstatement. I misspoke.” I agree he misspoke when he said that he cares about poor people. The Republican presidential candidates policies demonstrate they have no concern for the poor.

Romney himself has proposed spending cuts that would greatly reduce the safety net for the poor. He meant to say, if it ain’t broke, break it.

Like his other policies, Romney’s tax plan hurts the poor. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center showed that poor families would pay slightly more, around $140, while millionaires would gain more than $145,000 in reduced taxes.

Rick Santorum advocates policies that would “reform welfare to the point that it would offer no welfare at all.” Santorum’s would cut taxes for most Americans, but like Romney’s tax plan, most of the benefits go to the wealthy.

When Newt Gingrich is busy excoriating Romney for his lack of concern, he neglects to mention his own callousness.  Gingrich has said that, “Really poor children … have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works.” He also says that child labor laws are “truly stupid” and poor children should work as janitors in the schools they attend.

Gingrich’s tax plan is even worse that Romney’s in some ways. The rich would gain more than $600,000. Since, Gingrich does not tax capital gains, dividends, or interest income, somebody like Romney could end up paying no income taxes

In addition, the Republican candidates have railed against the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” The ACA, despite it faults, does make health more affordable and available, which of course, helps poor people. (A single-payer system would save more lives, cost less, and make health care affordable for all, but that is another blog entry or editorial.)

Rick Tyler, with the pro Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, illustrated the candidates’ indifference to the poor during an interview on MSNBC. Lawrence O’Donnell asked Tyler, “You say that Republican anti-poverty programs have worked. Please name me the Republican anti-poverty policy that has lifted people out of poverty and tell me how many people were lifted out of poverty by Republican policy?”

Eventually, Tyler’s responded by saying, “Lower taxes, more freedom, less government, and free enterprise. That’s the program.” He was unable to name even one specific program deliberately designed by Republicans to help the poor.

During a slow economy, austerity combined with tax cuts for the wealthy is the wrong approach. We need programs that help the poor instead of programs that hurt the poor and benefit the rich.

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