2012 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney yesterday attempted to flip-flop on his feelings towards the protesters continuing to occupy Wall Street. After initially deriding the protesters as “dangerous,” Romney told a town hall audience in New Hampshire that “I don’t worry about the top one percent. I don’t stay up nights worrying about ‘gee we need to help them.’ I don’t worry about that. They’re doing just fine by themselves.” “I worry about the 99 percent in America,” he added. “So I look at what’s happening on Wall Street and my own view is, boy I understand how those people feel.”
Carrying that theme over to last night’s GOP primary debate, Romney responded to a question on taxes by saying that he’s “not worried about rich people,” and that “if I’m going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that’s the middle class”:
If I’m going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that’s the middle class. I’m not worried about rich people. They are doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net, they’re taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that is why I focused my tax cut right there.
Of course, if this is truly Romney’s belief, he has a funny way of showing it, as his economic plan includes $6.6 trillion in tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the very rich (as well as corporate America). For instance, his plan to eliminate the estate tax only helps the wealthiest Americans who have estates worth more than $5 million. He would also extend all of the Bush tax cuts, even though “in 2010, fully half of the entire benefit from all of the Bush tax cuts flowed to the richest 5 percent of Americans.”
At the same time, Romney has proposed raising taxes on the poorest Americans, and during last night’s debate said that he would oppose extending the current payroll tax cut — which is helping all working Americans, particularly those in the middle-class — because “I don’t like temporary little Band-Aids.” So while he’s paying sufficient lip service to focusing on the middle-class, the actual policies Romney is advocating still adhere to the GOP’s traditional trickle-down model.