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Kurt A. Gardinier Headshot

Rich Don't Work for Romney

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Willard Mitt Romney is rich. Super rich. Like building-a-car-elevator-in-mansion-number three-rich and scoffing-at-earning-$374,000-in-speaking-fees-rich. And he's super out of touch. He doesn't watch NASCAR, but has "great friends who are NASCAR team owners," and his wife doesn't just drive a Cadillac, she "drives a couple of Cadillacs." And he's mean to dogs.

This combination is not working for Romney, yet most presidents have been rich and largely out of touch. So why is rich not working for Romney? It's simple. He doesn't seem to care about average working class Americans, the 99%. He cares about his people, the 1%, and the aspiring one-percenters (those disillusioned souls who support the policies of and for the 1% because they think they're headed there).

Mitt Romney is the richest man to run for president on a major party ticket, worth about a quarter billion dollars (not counting the $100 million trust he set aside for his sons), and if elected he would be wealthier than any other president in our nation's history, except one: our first, George Washington, who had a net worth of over a half billion in today's dollars. His salary was a staggering 2 percent of the total U.S. budget in 1789.

Presidents Kennedy and Roosevelt (FDR) also made the top 10 list of the richest U.S. presidents, but there's a stark difference between these men and Romney. These presidents were not spewing words and policies catered to the 1%. They spoke about and for the middle class, the poor and the working poor, and created monumental programs that drastically helped this large portion of our population.

President Kennedy was born into a wealthy, well-connected family, but his policies did not reflect that. His policies were not for the 1%. He spoke about a living wage for all Americans and expanding economic growth to benefit everyone. In August 1960, Kennedy spoke in support of raising the minimum wage:

Conscience and good business sense join in demanding the enactment of this measure. The bill will extend to the lowest paid workers -- to three and one-half million men and women and their families -- a fairer opportunity to share our high standard of living. To pass them by -- to water down the help they need -- or merely assume that prosperity at the top will someday reach them -- shocks the conscience of those who care.

A rich man caring for the lowest paid workers. That's why Kennedy's wealth didn't matter to the American people. He wasn't a wealthy guy running for president calling for tax cuts for the wealthy like Romney is. President Roosevelt came from money and grew up extremely privileged, but again, his wealth didn't hurt him with the American people because he wasn't running to serve the 1%. He was running for the people, the poor and unemployed, and spoke for and enacted fair and sensible programs for them and seemed to genuinely care for them, so his personal wealth was not an issue. He didn't believe that helping the rich in tough economic times was the answer, and made that clear when accepting his party's nomination in July 1932:

There are two ways of viewing the Government's duty in matters affecting economic and social life. The first sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small business man... [A theory that] will never be the theory of the Democratic Party.

A theory that has yet to work, but one that Romney is currently selling.

Presidents Kennedy and Roosevelt were rich, extremely privileged men, and so were many of the presidents who preceded and succeeded them, and this will likely not change, but to lead this great nation you need, at the very least, to care about the average American. And I can't think of one major policy issue that Romney has discussed that would help anyone besides him and his friends and colleagues, and that's why rich isn't working for Romney. He's so out of touch that he can't possibly relate to, speak for, or help average Americans. And he's not even trying to hide it.

Romney has publicly stated that he's "not concerned about the very poor," a seemingly obvious gaffe that the media quickly jumped on. But when you're running for president of a party considered to be unsympathetic to poor people in a time of a recession, and you're the richest man to ever run for the office, fairness is a pretty big deal -- especially when you're calling for tax cuts for the rich.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, under Romney's proposed tax plan the top 1 percent of Americans will save an average of $150,000 in taxes. Under Obama's plan these Americans would pay roughly $83,000 more than they do today. For the top 0.1 percent, Romney's plan would save them about $725,000. Obama's plan would raise their taxes by $450,000. Obama has called this issue of income inequality "the defining issue of our time," while Romney calls it the "politics of envy." A stark ideological difference between the two candidates that you might think would signal a dominant win for Obama, but as of today most polls suggest that the race is within the margin of error. So, I guess it's to be determined whether rich will work for Romney, but my money's on Obama.

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