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Does Mitt Romney Care About You? An Economic Analysis

"I'm not concerned about the very poor. "

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPgSgycAuqE

This morning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was chatting about which folks he cares about. Let's walk through it.


I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor.

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Are the very poor not Americans? In 2010, thanks to the recession and other economic problems, 46 million Americans lived below the poverty line (about $22,000 for a family of four)—about 15 percent of Americans. One in three Americans are poor or near poor.

We have a safety net there, if it needs repair, I’ll fix it.

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While the United States does have a social safety net—programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare—it it not ample compared to that of other developed countries, or even to the United States in the past. In fact, the broadest measure of social spending shows that since 1979, the United States has seen a 15 percent drop in payments to low-income Americans. Romney hasn't shown much interest in supporting temporary increases in the social safety net—he opposed the 2009 stimulus, which helped lower poverty by providing support to people hit hard by the recession. And, as Matt Yglesias points out, all of Romney's policy proposals point to a desire to shrink the safety net, not repair it.

I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine.

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That part, at least, is true: In the last 20 years, the top 10 percent of American earners captured 85 percent of the increase in average income. Romney's $250 million fortune makes him one of the very rich, and he has benefited mightily from the kind of tax breaks that many economists say drive this inequality.

I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 to 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.

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Actually, if you do the math for Romney, the 10 percent of Americans he doesn't care about because they're wealthy and the 15 percent he doesn't care about because they're impoverished leaves him caring about 75 percent. We'll forgive him for this error, at least, because it does capture the vast and increasing income disparity between the broad mass of Americans and the wealthiest citizens.

Yet Romney's attempt pander to the redoubtable American middle class shows how far behind the economic times he is—the middle class is clearly shrinking as the gap between rich and poor grows ever larger. To reverse that trend, we need more focus on the poorest among us, not less: Shoring up the middle class really means creating opportunities for more people to earn their way into it. That means better social policy matters to everyone—it's no coincidence that when America built a strong middle class, it came with a robust safety net.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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