We have to worry about pundits who strain at gnats. Mitt Romney’s actual words to CNN reporters in Florida, words that have brought some eyebrow raising from adversaries, were:
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 America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling. …You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus.
Newt Gingrich and others jumped at the opportunity to criticize. Although most would see the words as being beyond reproach, candidate Romney needed to explain. “No, no, no. You’ve got to take the whole sentence, all right, it’s mostly the same.” “My energy is going to be devoted to helping middle-income people!”
But as a Democrat, I confess to some issues with the leading contender for the Republican nomination. In fact, Mitt would turn many “safety net” components, including Medicaid and food stamps, over to the states. In the past, I have made the observation that turning these programs to the states would lead to inequities and, because of reduced oversight by the media, to a potential for corruption. Romney has already indicated that Medicaid is riddled with corruption, fraud and waste. By passing control to the states, the problem is likely to worsen.
Newt Gingrich may cause more harm to his campaign than good by jumping on perceived speaking gaffes by Romney. When Romney said he would rid himself of poorly functioning health care companies, “fire them,” Romney said, Newt was quick on the trigger. Maybe Newt underestimates the American voter. Maybe Newt would do well to give the man a break!