“Mitt Romney held up the waiters and waitresses serving donors at a fundraising event Monday night as examples of people who aren’t doing well under President Obama.
Addressing 300 contributors who paid $2,500, $10,000 or $50,000 to hear him speak in Jackson, Miss., Romney acknowledged that the people in the room were well-off compared to many Americans. It was the middle class that had been let down by Obama, Romney said, and he pointed to the wait staff serving finger foods as an example.
“It’s tough being middle class in America right now,” Romney said. “The waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room and offer us refreshments, they’re not having a good year. The people of the middle class of America are really struggling. And they’re struggling I think in a way because they’re surprised because when they voted for Barack Obama … he promised them that things were going to get a heck a lot of better. He promised hope and change and they’re still waiting.”
Let’s overlook the condescension in Romney’s description and instead focus on what the GOP nominee and his party propose to do for “the waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room,” serving his contributors drinks and food at Jackson’s River Hills country club.
More than 30 percent of Mississippi residents live in poverty. Some 650,000, including no doubt some of those waiters ferrying drinks and food, feed themselves and their children in part on food stamps, which Republicans want to slash drastically. The House Agriculture Committee just approved a measure cutting food stamps by $16.5 billion over 10 years. Among other things, the change would force some 300,000 children out of the free-lunch program at school.
One in five people in Mississippi — again including much of that wait staff, I’d suspect — have no health insurance. Romney is intent on repealing the only real hope they have of attaining health coverage that citizens of almost every other industrialized country somehow enjoy, and he has offered no plans on how to replace it.
In fact, Romney proposes to make it worse. To help finance his plan to cut individual tax rates by 20 percent, Romney proposes to slash projected Medicaid funding, a step that would significantly increase the number of poorer Mississippi citizens without health insurance.
On the other hand, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, the resultant tax cuts would produce average annual tax savings of $231,971 for the richest 1 percent of Americans, including many of those in Jackson who contributed more than $1.7 million to the Romney cause Monday night. But it will have almost no impact on the take-home pay of those waiters and waitresses.
Births to unwed mothers are a major social and economic problem in Mississippi, where more than half of all births are to single mothers. Romney proposes to address that problem by eliminating Title X family planning funding, producing a savings of $300 million.
Federal support for worker training programs in Mississippi and other states would also be slashed. And if those waiters and waitresses serving Romney’s donors have a particularly bright child waiting for them back home, someone whom the family has high hopes of sending to college, that dream will have less chance of coming true under a President Romney, who proposes funding cutbacks in federal student loans and tuition assistance.
This is the deal that the compassionate Mr. Romney proposes to offer those for whom he expressed such concern Monday night in Jackson. But not to worry.
“We’re accused, by the way — in our party — of being the party of the rich,” Romney told the crowd among the tinkling of glasses. “And it’s an awful moniker, because that’s just not true. We’re the party of people who want to get rich. And we’re also the party of people who want to care to help people from getting poor. We want to help the poor.”
He just has a peculiar way of showing it.
– Jay Bookman