Romney's Safety Net Shift
Among the many strange aspects of Mitt Romney's comments about the poor on CNN's Starting Point this week was his insistence that he intends to "fix" and "repair" the social safety net for low-income families. "If there are people that are falling through the cracks," Romney told reporters a few hours after his initial comments on CNN Wednesday morning, "I want to fix that."
In fact, at the heart of Romney's message throughout the primary has been his determination to retrench the safety net. His core argument against President Obama is that he is stifling the economy, and leading America dangerously away from its historic traditions by attempting to create what Romney calls "an entitlement society" modeled on Europe. "It is clear that he'll like to make us more like Europe, more like a European social welfare state," Romney insisted Monday while campaigning before an elderly audience at The Villages in Florida. Romney delivers some variation on that charge in almost all of his stump speeches and major addresses.
Romney has fleshed out that sentiment with proposals that envision significant reductions in the projected spending trajectory for federal safety net programs. He has been most specific about Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that guarantees health care for the poor (including poor seniors in long-term care.) Romney, reflecting a long-time conservative goal, has said he would end the entitlement to Medicaid and convert it into a block grant program.