What do the simple folk do
To help them escape when they're blue?
The shepherd who is ailing,
the milkmaid who is glum?
--What Do Simple Folk Do?,
Predictably, everyone prone to hop on the sound byte did, but sound bytes fail to tell the actual story. The actual story is, most contenders for the job of U.S. president are totally out of touch with the common man. We seem to like having our collective heads whipped around by the spinmeisters and being outraged by gaffes, and since we don't demand better, we do not get it.
Romney is certainly not the first candidate to show his disconnection with the voters. Al Gore fumbled when asked for the price of a gallon of milk; George Bush did not know the price of a gallon of gas. Simple, real people know these things, and they know by pennies how much each increases by the week.
But now it's Romney's turn in the barrel.
He said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it." Insensitive statement, to be sure, but it was the follow on which should have merited the outrage. Continued Romney, "I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation."
Now that is a load of baloney, but who has addressed it? This implies and marginalizes a small band of perpetually straggling groundlings -- the 5%? But the rest are worthwhile ... the "heart of America", the 90-95%?
The truth is, 15% of Americans live in poverty (Poverty Rate Rises in America). The rate is higher for children: 22% of all children, or over 1 in 5, live in poverty. But that's not the whole story, either.
Almost half of all Americans live at or near the poverty line (Close to Half of All Americans Live Near Poverty). These are people who are a couple of paychecks or one serious medical event away from destitution. With 49 million Americans lacking medical insurance, the potential for catastrophe is near. Their head is above water, but barely. These are the people who have fallen OUT of the middle class, and are hanging near its bottom margin by a tenuous thread.
Even if you go with a rosier Census Department study in December '11, close to 100 million people, or a third of the U.S. population, live at or near the poverty line. Math is not my forte, but 33 - 50% of us are very poor. Does that mean that Romney does not care about almost half of the country?
Romney's statement may turn out to be one of the more honest utterings of the campaign. He could not possibly feel our pain, or he would not have made such an absurd statement.
He was patently pandering the other ones he "doesn't care about" ("I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine"), because he is in the rich's pocket.