Monday, February 6, 2012

Safety Nets And Context

His words were taken out of context, Mitt complains. Having deliberately taken Obama's and bent them like Peyronie's Disease and then arguing that if the words come out of a mouth it doesn't matter how they're subsequently edited and distorted, he's upset. But the way I see it, it's when his words are seen exactly in context that his disconnection from reality is made most clear.

We are, of course, talking about this:

"I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. 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."

That's the full quote, the entire context; and it's numbingly off-base. Consider the ways.

First, who knows where he got his numbers. The real ones are these:

Poverty [1]

  • In 2009, 43.6 million people (14.3 percent) were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 8.8 million (11.1% percent) families were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 24.7 million (12.9 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 15.5 million (20.7 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
  • In 2009, 3.4 million (8.9 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty.

Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Security[2]

  • In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children.
  • In 2010, 14.5 percent of households (17.2 million households) were food insecure.
  • In 2010, 5.4 percent of households (6.4 million households) experienced very low food security.
  • In 2010, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20.2 percent compared to 11.7 percent.
  • In 2010, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20.2 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35.1 percent) or single men (25.4 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25.1 percent) and Hispanic households (26.2 percent).
  • In 2009, 8.0 percent of seniors living alone (925,000 households) were food insecure.
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5 percent in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL.[3]

Nine states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average 2008-2010:1

United States 14.6%

Mississippi 19.4%

Texas 18.8%

Arkansas 18.6%

Alabama 17.3%

Georgia 16.9%

Ohio 16.4%

Florida 16.1%

California 15.9%

North Carolina 15.7%

(I tossed in that last group of data thinking it might be of interest to those who believe leaving everything up to the states will solve our problems.)

So from the moment he opened his mouth, he's way off base. But more than that, who except Mitt thinks all of these people have a meaningful safety net? Why is there so much hunger if the nets are working? And when was the last time he wandered the halls of an emergency room? Does he think those people, stacked up and waiting for hours to be seen, are all covered by Medicaid? They aren't. And for those that are, would Mitt be satisfied if that were what his coverage got him? Does he know how many of them will be held responsible for their bill, falling below the level to afford insurance, and above the one that qualifies them for Medicaid? Is he aware of the health-care related bankruptcies that happen in America (not his America, but everyone else's) every day?

How much more ridiculous can a major political pretender be?

But beyond the obvious, here's the real issue: the tax and spending plan Romney advocates, in addition to giving a huge boost in income to those rich people he says don't need help, will in fact, devastate the very safety net he claims he'd "fix." Much as he'd like to, he can't have it both ways.

Romney has fleshed out that sentiment with proposals that envision significant reductions in the projected spending trajectory for federal safety net programs. He has been most specific about Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that guarantees health care for the poor (including poor seniors in long-term care.) Romney, reflecting a long-time conservative goal, has said he would end the entitlement to Medicaid and convert it into a block grant program.

In a November speech to Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party-flavored conservative economic group, Romney said he would limit future federal contributions to that Medicaid block grant to the annual increase in inflation plus one percent. That would mean federal spending on Medicaid would rise by about 3 percent annually, less than half the rate under current law. Romney says that would lower federal spending on Medicaid by $100 billion annually.


As the CBPP noted in an analysis last week, beyond those specific proposals, Romney's basic budget framework also necessitates further reductions in projected spending on federal safety net programs. ...

To meet that goal, the CBPP calculated that Romney would be required to cut all domestic programs by about $500 billion by 2016, a figure the former Massachusetts governor himself has used. In percentage terms, to meet his goal Romney would have to cut all domestic programs by 17 percent by 2016 and 23.5 percent by 2021; if Social Security is exempted, as is likely, the required cuts rise to 24.2 percent by 2016 and 34.5 percent by 2021. If Medicare is exempted (like Ryan, Romney would convert Medicaid into a voucher-like premium support system but not impose the change for anyone older than 55), then the required cuts in other programs increase to 34 percent by 2016 and 50 percent by 2021. And even those cuts assume that Romney's other promise to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget doesn't go into effect by then; with a balanced budget requirement, the required cuts rise even higher.

So, which do you suppose it is? Either Mitt Romney, as he does every day with his stump speech about President Obama, is basing his campaign on yet another deliberate lie, or he has no understanding at all of the very proposals he's made. (It's clear he has no idea about the real status of millions of Americans; and it's probable that, context or not, it really doesn't worry him.) Whichever it is, one can only hope that during the general election there'll be someone, somewhere, in a forum viewed by people to whom facts matter, who'll call him on it.


Frank Drackman said...

"Food Insecurity"?!?!?
what does that even mean?
and have you seen any Po' People's lately? wateva problems they may have, lack of food ain't one of em...
and you left out what % of the Po' have:
1: Plasma TV's
2: Cell Phones
3: Tatoos
4: expensive smoking habit

seriously, have you checked the price of a Carton of Smokes lately? almost enough to get me smokin the Gan-jaw


Cory said...

"How much more ridiculous can a major political pretender be?"- Unfortunately, I think we're going to find this out, suffer it, soon, and for the next nine months!

Frank Drackman said...

Sid, is there some reason your "Safety Net" holders look like Bantu Tribesmen?
its the most racist thing I've seen since Joe Biden's last attempt at an Indian accent...
and I know your a little racially tone-deaf coming from a city that lost it's NBA team to Oklahoma City, still, last thang you want is a bunch of irate Bantu Tribesmen surrounding your Lexus on your jaunt down to the Starbucks(you know you've been)

Frank-from "The City too Busy to Hate*" Drackman

*We would hate you, if we weren't so damn busy

Anonymous said...

Food insecurity is often associated with poverty and obesity (

It isn't that those affected lack food as much as they lack access to AFFORDABLE healthy food and knowledge about nutrition. Unfortunately there are 12 states with obesity (BMI > 30)rates > 30% with Mississippi being the "fatest" state with 34% of the population affected. Of course, along with that statistic comes diabetes and heart disease.
Those of us who are "food secure" may not fully realize the scope of the problem.

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