It's been a busy morning with a few personal things, but I've gotten around to reading some news and I have to say it's disappointing to see how people on Facebook and many blogs are treating Mitt Romney over his comments about the "very poor". The full statement is provided here.
What he's clearly saying is that the very poor have a lot of initiatives designed for and directed at them. Poverty is always going to be a problem, but it's a problem that we address. And over the last twenty years, we've tweaked out programs for the very poor by structuring them in a way that makes it less likely for the poor to get trapped in a cycle of poverty through perverse incentives that discourage work. As Romney says - we have a safety net. Romney also notes that he'd fix the safety net where it needs fixing (and there are always fixes to consider).
His point was clearly that he wants to focus on those who aren't very poor or very rich and who therefore have less of a net to catch them when hard times come. That's an eminently reasonable position to take, particularly if you explicitly say you're going to pay attention to any frays in the safety net for the very poor! Most Americans, who are not very poor or very rich, really need two things. Once they have these two things they can do most things for themselves. They need:
1. Dependable access to a solid education, and
2. A job
Romney isn't the best candidate to help them achieve those things, but he's better than most of the other GOP options.
We should be glad that Romney even recognizes (1.) that it's good to have a safety net, (2.) that it's good to fix that safety net, and that (3.) there are things a president can do to help the middle class. I don't know if you could get Ron Paul to say any of those things, and I'm not sure you could get Newt Gingrich to say the first two.