In light of the “47 percent” remarks and President Obama’s generally polling better on who cares about the middle class, Mitt Romney has been put on the defense on this issue. So in an interview yesterday, he made the case that he indeed was empathetic — by citing Romneycare.
“Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured,” Romney told NBC. ”One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
The obvious problem, of course, is that if there isn’t “anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record,” then Obama wins the empathy argument . . . because his policies involve helping more people get health insurance.
There are a lot of smart arguments for why conservative policies — from trickle-down economics to school choice — could help families climb out of poverty and achieve financial stability. In fact, in an ad out yesterday, Romney made just that kind of argument:
President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them. We shouldn’t measure compassion by how many people are on welfare. We should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good paying job. My plan will create 12 million new jobs over the next four years—helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening the middle class.
So why, when he’s not reading from a script, can’t he make a similar argument? Romney can make the case that he’s personally empathetic by talking about some of the scores of good deeds and favors he’s done over the years. And then he can talk about how he wants to help every American by creating an economic climate where everyone who’s willing to work can move up, and where every child has access to a quality school. But instead, by using a government-aid policy as an example of his empathy, Romney just bolstered the liberal assumption that the only true compassion is spending more money on programs, and that anyone who opposes that, doesn’t genuinely care about poor Americans.