Fareed Zakaria's Poverty Plea (VIDEO)

02/13/2012 01:52 pm ET

Back on Feb. 1, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made a controversial comment on poverty.

"I'm in this race because I care about Americans," Romney said. "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it."

On Sunday's edition of Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN host Fareed Zakaria revived that comment, emphasizing why Romney and the rest of the country should worry about those most in need.

"Well, it got me thinking: Romney was actually being honest about Americans in general. We don't - none of us - spend much time thinking about the very poor.

But we should, because we have a real problem in this area, an economic, political and moral problem.

By Romney's calculations, if 95% of Americans fall in the middle class, then there must be less than 5% of Americans who qualify as poor.

Well, no."

Zakaria then points to the raw data surrounding the United States' poverty picture. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 17.3 percent of all Americans qualify as poor. Of the 34 nations included in the OECD's data, the U.S. ranks 31st. For comparison's sake, France (8.9 percent) and Germany (7.2 percent) have poverty pictures that fail to match the volume of the U.S. problem.

With those numbers in hand, Zakaria shifted to one area that is ripe for fixing: child poverty.

"Whatever the causes of poverty, when children grow up in desperate circumstances - circumstances that they had no role in creating - studies show that they will be more likely to drop out of high school, be unemployed, use drugs, have children out of wedlock and get ill.

In other words, they will be unproductive members of society and cost taxpayers huge amounts of money over the course of their lives."