The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On Mitt Romney’s saying “I’m not concerned about the very poor”—citing social safety nets and greater concern for the middle class:

This is bad.

It’s not just that the day after a big win in Florida, he spent a whole day on a sound bite that can be taken out of context — and it has been and it will be.

And it’s not just that it strengthens the stereotype of Romney as the patrician who is only aware of the poor …as people who clean the streets and wash his car.

The real problem here is that it shows he doesn’t have a fluency with conservative ideas. Conservatives are not the ones who engage in the war of the classes or in a division of America into classes. Obama and the Democrats will win that kind of argument every day. The moral case for conservative economics is that our policy is going to help everybody, including the poor.

Two examples: school choice, which will help those trapped in the inner cities and tyranny of the teachers’ unions, [so they] will finally have an education, have the skills to get a job. And you lower the marginal rates of taxes so you encourage economic expansion and creation of jobs.

The idea that somehow we consign the poor to the safety net and we patch it — dependency is a liberal idea. It’s not our idea, and Romney is a guy who came late to his new ideology and still can’t speak it very well.

On whether Romney’s remarks betrays heartlessness:

I don’t interpret it [that way]. He wasn’t saying I have no concern at all about poor people. But he spoke about them in terms which implies a kind of static approach to poverty which the conservative idea rejects.

Look, a study of the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis looking at the bottom level, people in the lowest quintile, the lowest 20 percent of earners in 2001, [found that] within six years almost half had risen out of poverty. The conservative idea is that you have the mobility in classes. You don’t write them [the poor] off. You don’t consign them to a hammock that the liberals have constructed in which they stay in dependency. You have dynamic policies that lift them out. That’s something Romney hasn’t been able to grasp.

On the wisdom of Romney’s focusing is concerned on the middle class:

It’s simply a mistake for a Republican to try to outcompete a Democrat on appeasing and pandering to the middle class. He should say we’re going to help everybody. That’s the conservative idea.

On Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s indication Wednesday that the US would end its combat role in Afghanistan as early as mid-2013:

Call me cynical, but I think there is more than a whiff of reelection politics at play here. After all, Obama, when he announced the wind down of the surge — which he himself had ordered a couple of years ago– he decided what [will happen] in September of this year. Which makes no sense on the ground. Our commanders had recommended either before or after because it’s in the middle of the fighting season. You would do it after, say, in December. But he wants to have it done by Election Day….

And now we’re going to have an announcement… that we’ll be no longer in combat after the middle of next year, also a feather in Obama’s cap.

But I would remind you that it’s the Democrats who argued that Afghanistan is the good war, the real war, the central front in the war on terror. It wasn’t the Republicans. They [the Democrats] argued that the Bush administration had not invested enough treasure and blood in Afghanistan. That’s why Obama instituted the surge, tripling the number of troops, doubling the spending. And now all of a sudden he’s decided he’s had enough. He wants out.

But he wants the word out before Election Day so it will help him in his reelection.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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