Despite having the most virulently anti-immigrant platform in the GOP field, Mitt Romney won Florida’s primary handily last night, even capturing a majority of Hispanic voters. Vanessa Cárdenas, Director of Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes that Romney’s strategy to sway Latino voters has been to deflect criticism from his immigration policies by arguing that his economic plans would benefit Hispanic families.
But in her new report, Cárdenas points out that these policies “are out of step with the interests of the Latino community and in fact would hurt more than help.” For instance, his plan to privatize Social Security would disproportionately hurt Latinos who depend on the program for a large chunk of their income:
Latinos rely on Social Security for more of their retirement income and benefit over a longer period of time than most other population groups because of their longer life spans. Because a large number of Hispanics tend to have lower wages and less pension coverage, over 3/4 of Latinos rely on Social Security for at least half of their income.
Approximately 45 percent rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income, while about 38 percent rely on it for all of their income. Twenty-eight percent of Hispanics under 18 who are poor live below the poverty level. Hispanics 65 years and over were 21.8 percent of those who live below poverty. Without Social Security more Latinos would be harmed across the country. Privatization would dismantle the safety net.
Additionally, Romney has pledged to roll back President Obama’s health care reform law, which would be a crippling blow to the 9 million Hispanics who currently lack health insurance. Romney’s proposal to block grant Medicaid would result in deep cuts to the “program that is at the crux of Latinos’ access to health care” and covers more than one in four Hispanics.
Facing criticism for not being conservative enough on many issues, Romney has consistently tried to outflank many of his opponents on the right when it comes to immigration. Among other things, he has vowed to veto the DREAM Act if he becomes president, which would deny undocumented students the chance to come out of hiding and get a college education or serve in the military. After one GOP debate in November, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom essentially conceded that his candidate’s position was to make immigrants’ lives unbearable to force them to leave the country.