Mitt Romney, who has long battled perceptions that his immense wealth renders him out of touch with voters, tried to prove his sympathies with the middle class at a fundraiser in Jackson, Mississippi last night. To an audience that paid $2,500, $10,000 or $50,000 a ticket, Romney pointed out the waitstaff in the room, saying “they’re not having a good year” due to the country’s slow economic recovery:
I know that people in this room are probably doing relatively well, relative to folks across this country. But not everyone in America is doing so well right now, it’s tough being middle class in America right now. The waiters and waitresses that come in and out of this room and offer us refreshments, they’re not having a good year. The people of the middle class of America are really struggling. And they’re struggling I think in a way because they’re surprised because when they voted for Barack Obama…he promised them that things were going to get a heck a lot of better. He promised hope and change and they’re still waiting.
Though he may embrace the middle class rhetorically, his actual policy tells a different story. Romney plans to increase the taxes for half of middle class families with children, while his wealthy fundraiser attendees who make $1 million or more would get an annual tax cut of nearly $150,000. He also wants to make it easier for companies to outsource jobs; by exempting companies from taxes on foreign profits, Romney could send as many as 800,000 jobs overseas.
He also recently flipped his position on raising the minimum wage, saying, “There’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage.” In Mississippi, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the minimum wage for tipped employees is an even lower $2.13. The minimum wage would need be be near $10 today to have the purchasing power that it had in the 1960s.
Just a few months ago, Romney dismissed concern for the struggling middle class as “envy” and “class warfare.” Now he’s trying to change his tune a bit, while still embracing policies that would do no favors for American workers.