Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who had previously been avoiding doing any interviews with the media before it started looking like his frontrunner status in the GOP primary race was in jeopardy with Newt Gingrich rising in the polls, sat down with PBS's Charlie Rose and did his best to punt when asked what he thought about the shrinking middle class in America and the income disparity that has so many Americans upset these days.
Rose asked him straight up, twice, if he was concerned about the middle class disappearing and the class divisions we see growing deeper in the United States and in both instances, his response was to basically punt and make arguments about how we'd better not be too hard on that upper 1 percent, to trash unions, pretend that we're "punishing" those at the top if we would like to see them pay their fair share in taxes, and try to claim that if leave our economy to the "free markets" that everyone in society is going to end up being better off.
It really astounds me that after watching what forty years plus of what Reaganonomics have done to us that anyone in American politics could be so tone deaf to the fact that trickle down economics don't work and that without government intervening to make sure we protect American workers, we're going to continue to see America's economy go down the tank other than for the richest among us, like Mitt Romney, but that's exactly what we got from him during this interview.
If this is the best the GOP has to offer for the upcoming presidential election, and if these are the arguments Romney wants to make if he's hoping to be elected president, I actually look forward to watching him trying to repeat his performance with President Obama sitting across a podium from him, rather than Rose lobbing softballs with little follow up.
Romney's got all of his talking points down for the media as long as they allow him to change the subject and not actually answer their questions as he did here. He never really addressed the problem of income disparity other than to pretend that putting more money into the hands of the rich is going to solve it. I sincerely hope he doesn't get the kind of pass he did here if he wins the nomination once the debates start for the general election.
The other candidates may have their problems, but they truly don't have a better representative other than maybe Newt Gingrich of any of them that's more out of touch with the working class and what most average Americans are going through right now than Mitt Romney.
Some rough transcript of the beginning of the interview below the fold.
ROSE: Where do you think America is with respect to these basic economic questions of the divisions between rich and poor and a shrinking middle class?
ROMNEY: Oh, I think this is a time to be bold and the boldness is not trying to change America into some new economic model, never before tested, or into a model that's been tested, then proven false and ineffective. The old Socialist model hasn't worked anywhere in the world. The European model isn't working in Europe. The only model that's ever worked, is the American model of free enterprise where we open for people the ability to achieve whatever they might hope to accomplish in their life.
And by virtue of this idea of free enterprise and opportunity, a merit based society, we find individuals who invent and who create and help lift the entire economy and lift all people.
But the idea this President has of saying government should step in and take from some to give to the others and thereby create economic justice, that will kill this country. That will kill our economy. That will make us prone to poverty.
ROSE: But we've had a progressive income tax for a while here. That is taking from some and giving to others as you know.
ROMNEY: There is a progressivity and a recognition that those at the high end of the income scale will owe more than those at the bottom of course. And we will have a safety net in this country. I'm not suggesting we uh... that the very wealthy get special breaks and get a better deal than anybody else. But I do believe that when you have a government begin to tell companies these are the ones we want to succeed. You need to give money to these companies. And you can't go here unless you're a union company.
ROSE: This would be the Boeing case.
ROMNEY: The Boeing case. You're watching the President bow to the financial interests in his party whether it's the extreme environmentalists or the union movement. Whether it's the public sector unions. The President has taken a course of suggesting that he and Washington know better than free people choosing their own paths in life. And that happens to have failed everywhere it's been tried. […]
ROSE: When you look at this great division that's been talked about, whether it's defined as 99 and 1. Whether it's defined as income inequality. Whether it's defined as some sense that a society that's become unfair. How would you address that? And what priority does that have for you?
Romney's answer in a nutshell to that... keep that evil Federal gubmit out of our lives, empower the entrepreneurs and “risk takers” and don't fall into the trap of becoming Socialists... the horror. He wrapped it up with quoting Margaret Thatcher.
ROMNEY: An old great line by Margaret Thatcher. The problem with Socialism is sooner or later you run out of other people's money.
And of course he got one last shot in on how terrible Socialism has been for Europe and how it hasn't worked, unlike that wonderful trickle-down economics touted by Ronnie RayGun and his buddy Maggie Thatcher that he apparently loves so much.