Mitt Romney is trying to reinvent himself as the anti-poverty and income inequality warrior this country desperately needs. Yes, really.
According to The Huffington Post, he gave a speech to members of the Republican National Committee below decks on the U.S.S. Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier in San Diego. He talked about both equality of opportunity and addressing rising poverty levels, which raises some interesting questions.
The first question, which HuffPo discusses, is why he didn’t bring this up in 2012. Romney said, to this gathering:
It’s a tragedy, a human tragedy, that the middle class in this country by and large doesn’t believe that the future will be better than the past. We haven’t seen rising incomes over decades.
The rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty than ever before under this president.
Of course, he calls out Obama as the reason incomes haven’t risen, instead of looking at the deeper issues, such as the shareholder value theory of business that turned Wall Street into the god of the entire business world (not just the financial sector). That’s more responsible for stagnant incomes than Obama, and even Bush the Lesser, are.
To reinvent himself this way, he’s going to have a hard time shaking off some of the idiotic comments he made during his failed 2012 presidential bid. The 47 percent comment comes to mind.
The Washington Post reports that, of course, Romney says that addressing income inequality and poverty require conservative policies. But what are conservative policies to address these issues?
The Heritage Foundation said, back in 2012, that we can best address poverty by promoting work, marriage, civil society and reining in welfare spending. They want work-based welfare, which the National Institutes of Health say has its limitations. Just working, in our society, does not necessarily lead to self-sufficiency. To address welfare, we have to address lack of opportunity, which conservatives consistently ignore.
Besides, Obama did not get rid of the work requirement for welfare. That’s a myth that, despite getting widely debunked, persists as conservatives try to paint him as the guy who wants everyone addicted to government so he can solidify his power.
At least the Heritage Foundation recognizes that conservatives need credibility. When it comes to talking about poverty and income inequality, credibility is something of which conservatives have very little. Romney, with some of the gaffes he made about poverty during the 2012 election cycle, has even less.
HuffPo makes a good point in that Romney has tried to paint himself as anti-poverty before and failed miserably. He might be sincere now, but the promises he makes will likely align with the failed conservative policies of trickle-down economics, and the idea that the poor are poor because they’re lazy.
A reinvention for Romney? Probably not, unless he starts to buck the traditional conservative mindset about income inequality and poverty.
Featured image via Crooks and Liars