An odd way of showing ‘concern for the poor’

NBC News reported yesterday that Mitt Romney made a “slight tweak to his usual campaign message” during an appearance in South Carolina yesterday.

Traditionally on the stump and in debates, Romney says the poor are “taken care of” by the country’s social safety net. Today he appeared to call for reinforcing that net, in addition to helping the middle class.

“I’m concerned about the poor in this country. We have to make sure the safety net is strong and able to help those who can’t help themselves,” Romney said, before returning to his standard remarks. “I’m not terribly worried about the very wealthiest in our society; they’re doing just fine.”

I can certainly understand why Romney would say something like this. As has become quite clear recently, the Republican frontrunner is a multi-millionaire, who got rich laying people off, and who “likes” being able to fire people. It stands to reason Romney is going to shift gears a bit, express some concern for the poor, and tell voters the wealthy are already “doing just fine.”

The problem, though, comes when we look past what Romney says and focus instead on what he intends to do.

Taxes would fall for the country’s wealthiest and rise for a some of the poorest Americans under the tax plan proposed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, according to an analysis released today by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The reduced government revenue could widen the country’s budget deficit by at least $180 billion, according to the analysis of Romney’s 59-point, 160-page economic plan.

Romney said yesterday he’s “concerned about the poor,” but he has a funny way of showing it. According to the non-partisan TPC analysis, Romney would give the wealthy yet another significant boost by making the Bush-era cuts permanent, reducing the corporate tax rate, and repealing the estate tax. Those with the least, meanwhile, would take it on the chin: Romney would scrap all Obama-era tax breaks, including the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the American Opportunity tax credit for higher education, and the more generous child credit. The changes for those in the bottom 20% would see an annual increase of about $157 a year.

The bottom line: if you’re very wealthy, Romney intends to stuff more money in your pockets. If you’re already struggling, Romney intends to increase your tax burden. It’s just like the Robin Hood story — only in reverse.

Or put another way, the multi-millionaire who’s hiding his tax returns, owns a few mansions (one of which he’s quadrupling in size), and who got rich orchestrating leveraged buyouts and laying off thousands of American workers, has quite a policy agenda in mind for 2013: free rein for Wall Street, taking health coverage away from millions, slashing public investments that benefit working families, more foreclosures, tax increases on those already struggling, and tax cuts for the rich.

Here’s a potential follow-up question for reporters covering Romney on the trail: “Governor, when you say you’re ‘concerned’ about the poor, what do you intend to do for these struggling families, aside from cutting their benefits, raising their taxes, and giving tax breaks to the rich?”